Beach Hair Care through the Sun & Surf

It doesn’t take long in Cabarete to realise you spend most of the time with your hair wet. Dipping in and out of the ocean and pool is something I always look forward to on vacation. But, it’s only when I get here that I remember how hard the sun, salt and chlorine is on my poor hair.

There’s no denying that bleached salty surfer hair is a strong look. But it comes with its downsides. Dried out ends, colour damage and, of course, those salty tangles of doom.

Here are some tips and hacks to keep your locks looking luscious, no matter what the adventure.

Sun, Sun, Sun

Just like your skin, your hair deserves some SPF attention.

Sunscreen for your hair? I hear you cry.

It might sound ridiculous, but, yes.

The same UV rays you shield your skin from can wreak havoc on your hair. Especially if it’s coloured or already damaged.

Pop an SPF spray in your suitcase for your hair and scalp (don’t forget, that’s skin too!). They’ll thank you for it.

Warning: Short but important Chemistry lecture coming right up.

Be careful to scan the ingredient list on your sunscreen. Some chemicals in sunscreen are killing or bleaching coral, and disrupting the ocean’s ecology. To preserve our beautiful ocean, we need to be alert to this potential danger and be responsible travellers.

Make sure your sunscreen does not contain these common chemicals:

  • Oxybenzone (sometimes written as Benzophenone-3, or BP-3)
  • Butylparaben
  • Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate)
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC)

These chemicals have been shown to harm coral, even in really tiny concentrations, like one drop in six and a half Olympic swimming pools!

Oxybenzone in particular is super common, found in over 3500 sunscreen brands worldwide.

An estimated 6,000 – 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen wash off swimmers into the coral reef environments every year. That’s not even counting the amount that washes into the ocean from our water waste systems.

Eco-warriors, it’s your time to shine!

marine life in the dominican republic

Salt of the Earth. Or Ocean.

As you may have noticed, overexposure to salty water dries out your hair, causing it to clump and break.

The salt in the ocean draws water out of your hair by osmosis. (Yes, that water-moving process from high school science class is back to haunt you.)

In the sun, you’re dealing with water evaporating from your wet hair, too, which makes the drying effect even worse. Woe is me.

Coloured hair has it the worst. The salt can give it a weird, hard texture, and make it a nightmare to brush out.

The solution: moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!

There are a host of creams and conditioning masks out there that carry all sorts of claims to rehydrate your lamentable crusty beach hair.

You can pick one up at the store, or whip up a home remedy.

Lots of surfer chicks (and dudes) swear by coconut oil. You can apply it before you go out as a defensive shield, or after for damage control.

Natural ingredients like honey and buttermilk can do wonders to quench dry strands.

In Cabarete, a local remedy for dry ocean hair is to wait for an avocado to get ripe. I mean really, really ripe. And then crush it straight on top of your head. Smoosh it around and work it down the length of your hair. Leave it on as long as you can stand it, and then rinse it off in the shower.

Maybe use one of those hair-trappers in the plughole to catch the chunks.

Talk about an avocado smash!

If that sounds like a bit much, try mashing half an avocado up with a few tablespoons of olive oil, two eggs and some water. A hydrating guacamole to satisfy the locks!

Aside from adding some much-needed moisture back in, be sure to rinse your hair thoroughly with water after going in the sea. It helps.

Just Keep Swimming…

As a blonde who loves to swim, I’ve always had to deal with the dreaded green swimmer’s tinge.

I learnt, however, that it’s not actually the chlorine that turns your hair green. Well, not directly.

The real culprit is metals in the water, like copper, that are oxidised by the chlorine. They stick to your hair, which apparently is very porous, and edge you towards Grinch territory. Think more Lady of Liberty than Ariel.

The best way to prevent green hair is to soak your locks in the shower before you head to the pool.

Imagine your hair is like a sponge. If you pre-soak it with fresh water, it has less room to take in pool water. The water works like a protective coat against the metallic pool water.

So, make good use of those poolside showers!

For green hair, check your kitchen for a remedy. Try a rinse with baking soda, lemon juice, coke, or ketchup to get your colour back to normal.

If all else fails, you can always fall back on the good old-fashioned swim cap to put some proper distance between you and the water. Don’t laugh, there are some cute ones out there!

Sharing is Caring!

Let us know in the comments if you have any beach hair care secrets up your sleeve. Share the love.

Oh, and don’t forget to use a brush that’s gentle on the tangles. Wide-toothed combs are great, as are Tangle Teezers. Some beach babes also opt for the elegant plait to keep those bird’s nests under control.

The best thing is to try out different things and see what works for you and your hair. With your beach hair care routine down, you can focus on having a wild time on your adventure vacation!