20 . April . 2020 BY Dr. Sharmishtha Deshpande

Summer & lockdown – this season, this year, is turning out to be quite an experience. We are about midway & more through April, experiencing an unprecedented lockdown and the sun meantime is beating down hard! Temperatures are soaring and you can feel the heat waves. And the COVID situation has made it all a tad harder, ain’t it?

Summer is usually about vacations, pools, beaches, shopping, ice creams, cool fizzy drinks and golas! But not this time around. This time it is about staying safe at home! Long story that… Let’s chat about your hair for today!

Now, while you are not stepping out and exposing your hair to the hot sun as much as past summers, the weather condition still does affect your hair! Your hair that is otherwise shiny and soft, may feel frizzy, dry and unmanageable now! The hot weather zaps your hair of moisture. The drier your hair, the frizzier it gets. If you are someone with coloured hair, you may notice that it is looking faded and bleached…

As with all down-sides, there is always a silver lining to look to! You are at least not directly exposed to the harsh sun and UV rays since you are locked up indoors. So, you have to tackle with one less concern! And…thanks to the quarantine, you can indulge in some self-care & hair love this summer! And when the lockdown lifts, be ready to step out with great hair! Here is a quick summer hair care guide, with some handy tips and solid hair advice.

But before we get on with the advice, let’s understand what exactly happens to your hair & scalp in hot, humid weather.

Summer-time hair concerns
To understand what happens to your hair when surrounded by heat and humidity, it is important to understand hair’s anatomy and its composition. Do read our blog on this topic while at it!

Heat & humidity on hair bonds
Hair is far more complex than it appears on the surface. It is composed of multiple layers, chemical bonds and proteins. Hydrogen bonds give flexibility, tenacity or elasticity to your hair. Salt bonds are responsible for the strength and elasticity of hair. The cysteine bond is also known as the disulphide bond or the sulphur bond and is perhaps the most important of all. The disulphide bonds are very strong and hold the hair fibre together. The sugar bonds are responsible for maintaining the moisture content of hair.

Now, come summer, the heat & humidity affects these bonds in your hair – predominantly the hydrogen bonds and your salt bonds, to a certain extent. The higher the humidity, the more these bonds are prone to breakage. The hot weather tends to strip moisture from your hair shaft, making it dry as well.

Sweat threat!
The other concern is excessive sweating. Sweating is a natural process, as you know and is even essential. However, when it is not cleaned out, your scalp can become prone to infection, and your hair – greasy…and smelly!

If your hair has become really sweaty (perhaps after a workout, or just thanks to the weather), and you aren’t going to be washing it just yet, be sure that you air-dry it properly before tying it up. Else, your hair & scalp are going to be really smelly. Not to mention, your scalp can become a hotbed for microbes to flourish and breed!

If you are someone who normally sweats a lot, you better routinely wash your hair – more frequent than others. If you don’t wash as much as needed in this case, the sweat can clog the pores on your scalp leading to scalp infections and dandruff.

Excessive sweating in this weather can also make your hair super greasy and oily. Which basically means that you need to keep up with that hair wash routine.

Why does sweat create so much of a concern? ‘Cos it contains lactic acid. If you don’t wash and maintain scalp hygiene, you are putting your hair in danger. Sweat can dehydrate your strands, as strange as that may sound, and block the pores, as mentioned above. This means that your hair follicles can’t breathe easy and there is a hindrance to hair growth. In a severe case, this can even lead to hair loss.

UV rays
Though not applicable right now with the lockdown, it may be noted that, when you are exposed to the harsh UV rays of the sun, without protection, it can cause hair damage. It can also cause scalp irritation. When your head is unprotected, these rays can weaken the hair roots, and thereby affect your hair’s growth cycle. UV rays are known to lead to hair shaft’s structural impairment. Hair proteins, especially keratin as well as pigments are degraded and lose their ability to function rightly. Further, UV rays are known to have a bleaching effect on your hair. So, if you have freshly coloured your hair, you will notice the colour fading sooner than usual.

Now, having spoken of all this, your summer, AND your lockdown time, needn’t necessarily be the season of bad hair days! All your hair needs is some extra TLC. Your hair can look and feel great every day now, and you can flaunt it all you want when you step out afterwards!

Haircare tips for you, this summer!
Oil, Wash & Condition

The most basic hair care mantra – oiling-shampooing-conditioning – you should be doing it more frequently than in any other season, to ensure good hair health this season. Oiling is much needed to nourish and moisturise your hair. Shampooing is a must to ensure hair hygiene, to wash away the grime from sweat & product build-up. Conditioning is a must to smoothen those cuticles and seal the moisture in the hair shaft.

Argan oil, Jaborandi oil and coconut oil can really rescue you during this time. Argan oil is not as greasy as some other natural oils, which means you can use it regularly. A warm argan or coconut oil massage is the best therapy to regain the strength and shine of your hair besides keeping it moist, manageable & hydrated! Do read our blog on oiling benefits to understand this better.

And here’s another tip to feel super refreshed when you wash your hair – add about two-three drops of peppermint oil, if you have it, into your shampoo and wash as usual. This will add that zing to your wash and leave your scalp feeling cool and refreshed! Not to mention, peppermint also helps curb any itchiness you may be feeling on your scalp! And do finish your wash with a nice cold rinse.

Do use a conditioner after every wash. This weather tends to play hard with your cuticles, and the frequent hair wash can hamper them much. Cuticles are meant to be down smooth and pointing down in the same direction like roof tiles. When they are lifted up at random, as you wash your hair and tussle with them, it will lead to tangling, breakage and overall hair damage. Conditioning after every wash helps smoothen these cuticles down, leaving you hair manageable and healthy.

Washing your hair the right way can make such a huge difference to its well being!

Avoid styling
Stay away from styling as much as possible this season. Once you are done with washing and conditioning, comb your hair with a wide-toothed wooden comb, gently. Do NOT comb hair when wet. Avoid blow dryers. We would recommend air drying. Go with natural hairstyles. With this lockdown, this shouldn’t be too difficult to handle! No big parties to go to, right? So yes. This is something you can easily achieve this summer!

While this lockdown is meant to keep everyone safe and away from the CoViD-19 threat, it has also given your hair a golden opportunity to say no to styling tools and thus, yes to great hair! Quarantine has let you pick easy and relaxing hairstyles at home, hasn’t it? You can simply tie a loose pony or keep your hair braided all day to avoid damage or breakage. No need for any tools!

But do remember this for the coming summers too! Your hair goes through enough with the change in weather. Styling with heat equipment and chemicals only strains it further. The additional heat can wreck your hair. Also, use fewer hair products such as hairsprays and gels because they contain tons of chemicals that can cause damage by clogging the follicles mixed with sweat.

Time for a mask!
Summer by itself warrants for deep conditioning. Now with the additional time at home, thanks to the lockdown, you can very well pamper your hair with that hair mask!

Hair masks made of ingredients like Multani mitti, Amla, Brahmi and Shikakai can give your hair the much needed cooling effect! Hair masks, packs, and repair serums are essential for those with severely damaged hair any given day. And even more so during summers. They are deep conditioning treatments that help heal damaged hair and form a protective shield around the shaft.

Here’s a quick summer+lockdown hair mask tip. Whip up a quick mix of lemon juice (2-3 tablespoons) with a couple of spoons of coconut water – Massage it onto your scalp gently. Leave it on for about 15-30 minutes, and rinse your hair off with cold water. This will remove the excess oil, secretions, grime and sweat super efficiently, while gently cleansing your scalp.

One more DIY mask you can try at home now! All you need – one ripened banana, a tablespoon of fenugreek paste, mixed with a tablespoon of honey. Apply as a hair mask and rinse well after 30 minutes!

Do read our blog on the topic to understand how best to use a hair pack or mask, to experience the best results.

Give yourself that snip
You could try this yourself, or get your lockdown-mate to help you out!
Take small sections of hair and carefully twist them in a gentle downward motion. Any split ends will automatically stick out for you to notice. Carefully snip into the twist with sharp scissors. Don’t cut right through; just cut into the thickness to remove the damaged cuticles and give a natural layered effect. Be careful to cut roughly the same amount from each twist.

How can this make a difference? Split ends (or trichoptilosis) is a common condition that proves to be everyone’s devil, when it comes to summer-time hair! Getting timely trims can be a great way to maintain good hair, more than you’d ever imagine! So don’t worry about being in lockdown, try out our tip to handle those jagged ends.

Maintain a well-balanced diet
In simple words, it is strongly believed that your hair is what you eat. So, the type of food you intake directly or indirectly affects the quality of hair. Balanced meals packed with the right mix of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables rich in water content, is much needed to retain the health of hair in summers. If you can procure, do include paneer, spinach and other greens, along with beetroot, carrots and cucumbers during this season. Seasonal fruits & veggies items can be a great addition to your hair healthy foods as well!

With the present lockdown, be frugal yet wise with your food intake. Basic Indian meals by themselves are packed with the goodness of all those nutrients your body and hair needs! Fancy recipes and diets aren’t exactly needed!! Dal, roti, rice, fresh vegetables cooked with the right amount of oil, ghee, consumed along with curd – is as wholesome as it gets! If you have stock of almonds, dates, walnuts and raisins – a handful of these can be ideal in-between snacks.

Dairy, yoghurt, beans, soybeans, palak, paneer, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, Kabuli chana and almonds are great sources of proteins. Dairy, yeast, nuts, tofu and beans are good sources of calcium. Dark green leafy vegetables, dates, figs and jaggery are good sources of iron. Legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans, nuts, whole grains, seeds and dairy – all contain substantial amounts of zinc. Most of these can be found around you easily and you can whip up recipes around them as easily too.

Water for hair!
You must have heard ‘summer dehydration stories’ from your family, friends, peers, or colleagues. This is nothing but the effects of lack of adequate water intake, especially in a season when the sun’s high on our heads! While you think dehydration only affects the body, let us clarify that it equally affects your hair.

During summers, you tend to lose too many minerals through sweat and this causes dehydration, which in general affects your whole body, making your skin & hair dry and lifeless. A minimum of 3-4 litres of water is a must, for your body and hair to remain hydrated and full of moisture. Also include lemon water, buttermilk and coconut water in your diet to regain the lost minerals. Eat fruits with high water content such as muskmelon, watermelon, cucumbers and tomatoes to supply the needed nutrients to your system.

Cover UP if you step out!
Now, given the present scenario, it is best to NOT step out unless it is an emergency or for an essential purpose. But if you do step out, ensure that your head is covered with a scarf or a cap. It could be a simple head wrap. A cotton fabric tied loosely lets the air pass through the scalp and not make your hair dry due to the hot breeze. You can also use a hair sunscreen if you foresee being out in the sun for long.

While you may be feeling ‘stuck’ at home, we urge you to see the positives! You are ‘safe at home’! Use this time well. Use it on yourself. While you may be missing your routine hustle, this could very well be your time of healing – your mind’s, your body’s and your hair’s! Get working on these tips we have shared today. Give your hair the care it needs, especially when you are now in a position to focus and give it! It’s time to fall in love with your hair again!

Eat healthy. Stay healthy. Maintain hygiene. Immunity will be addressed.

Don’t forget though! Hygiene = Health = Hair = Happiness! And, our expert trichologists are just a call or click away to help you achieve these 4Hs!

With that, we sign off! Stay home and stay safe! This too shall pass and you can look forward to flaunting awesome hair when you step out next, on the other side of COVID lockdown!
Catch up on our blogs on hair care, hair trivia, hair loss, and solutions! You can also check our social media pages to collect bits & pieces of knowledge about hair on a daily basis!
Till then, #StayInStaySafe!

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