As someone who’s been bottle blonde more times than she can count and isn’t 100% sure what her natural hair colour actually is, I know the struggle that comes with trying to keep your locks long and luscious. It’s hard enough at home with an army of stylists and Boots at your fingertips, let alone when you’re on the road with just a backpack full to keep you going. I’ve come up with a few MacGyver hacks to prevent those dreaded split ends and banish brassiness!
Before I start, let me explain a little bit about the structure of your hair. Your hair strands are made of keratin, and are essentially dead- which is why it doesn’t hurt when you cut your hair! The hair has an inner layer called a cortex, and an outer visible layer called the cuticle. The hair cuticle’s condition is largely what affects the appearance of your hair and how healthy it looks. The hair cuticle is made up of overlapping cells, which all face the same way. These minimise the movement of water out of the cortex, which is vital for healthy moisturised hair. When they all lie flat, the hair shaft will look shiny and lustrous, However in hair which is in poor condition, they can lift up, drying your hair out and making it look dull and frizzy. In damaged hair where the cuticle is lifted, the hair is more porous and loses moisture more easily- bleaching your hair, salt water, and heat will all have this effect on your hair. That’s why it’s really important to introduce as much moisture as you can to keep your hair in tip-top condition.
1. Before you go
Unless you can start off with your hair in tip-top condition, you’re really just playing catch up to the damage that has already been done. That’s why I recommend booking a trim as close as you possibly can to you departure date- I think I had mine done the day before I flew. This maximises your pennies and keeps your style looking fresh for as long as possible into your trip. If you bleach your hair and are going for longer than the time period you usually leave between haircuts- ask for feathered roots, which means they blend the bleach into your roots with a slightly uneven edge, to smudge the line between light and dark. This will make your regrowth look less harsh and a lot more natural. You can also have a few foils around your face to give a nice sun-kissed natural look.
Braids are your friend while you’re on holiday. They look really intricate and impressive (I always get a lot of compliments on mine!) but they are so quick and easy to do. My favourite is the Dutch braid (see below for tutorial) and bonus when you take them out you get lovely beachy waves. While your braids are in, I like to run some deep conditioner or coconut oil through the ends to give your hair some extra love. Braids are also great for those days when you can’t be bothered/are too hungover to wash your hair, as the extra oil actually helps to tame flyaways and as a bonus is really conditioning for your hair.
However be careful when doing very tight braids, especially around the front of your hair by your face. Too much tension can cause those baby hairs to break and your hairline to recede ever so slightly! For this reason I recommend switching between the Dutch braid and the French braid, as the French one is a much looser and more relaxed style.
3. Gently does it
Your hair is fragile believe it or not so the way that you brush it is super important. Always start from the ends, and tease out tangles little by little. If you find yourself tugging your hair, take a smaller section and work the knots out of that piece first. You can also smooth some serum through it (my favourite is Trevor Sorbie Colour Enhance) and try again if you’re still having trouble. It may be quicker to just drag a brush through it, but it’s only going to lead to damage and breakage in the long run- not good if you’re trying to grow it! Furthermore, only brush your hair when it’s dry. Your hair is much more elastic when it’s wet, and brushing it can lead to more breakage than it would if you left it to dry first.
4. Washing your hair
Many people I know wash their hair every day, and tell me that it gets greasy if they don’t. You actually produce oil naturally from your scalp, and it’s part of your body’s way of conditioning your hair and keeping it nice and soft. However, the shampoo that we use contains sulfates as the foaming agent, and these strip your hair of oils- they have to right, as that’s why we wash our hair- to get rid of oiliness! However, when you take the oils from your hair, your scalp goes into overdrive trying to produce more to combat the dryness that it feels. That’s why the more you wash your hair, the oilier it will be. I know this because I used to be one of those people who washed their hair every day, and it made my hair feel really dry and fluffy immediately after I’d washed it, and foul and greasy within 24 hours. The only way out of this cycle is to gradually reduce how often you wash your hair. Yes it feels horrible at first, but this is where the Dutch braids I talked about earlier come in. I’ve managed to go from washing my hair every day, to just once a week- and it feels so much healthier and softer because of it. It also saves me countless hours in washing and blow drying my hair. I’d like to say I’ve been more productive in that time, but I’ve still mostly spent it mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. Oh well.
When washing your hair, if you can choose a shampoo which is marketed as low in or containing no sulphates. I also really like the LUSH Jason and the Argan Oil shampoo bar as it’s the most moisturising shampoo I’ve ever tried. Also, condition all the way to your roots if you have thick hair! Try to avoid dry shampoo too- I know it’s tempting, but it absorbs oils and makes your scalp dry, taking you back to square one.
5. Deep condition
Obviously you’re already conditioning your hair after you shampoo when you wash it. But once a week or so, I like to either do a deep conditioning masque, or every other day or so I will actually just get a little bit of my hair treatment (Aussie Three Minute miracle- no they aren’t paying me to write this I just love them) and run it through my ends and leave it in. Especially good when you have braids in. This is also really great to do before you go swimming in salt water or a swimming pool filled with chlorine, which are really drying for your hair.
6. Coconut oil
On days where I don’t put deep conditioner in my hair in the mornings, I use coconut oil instead. Thanks to it’s massive surge in popularity this is now unbelievably cheap- but make sure you only buy organic and extra virgin. I paid about £2.50 in Aldi for a huge pot of mine. Coconut oil is incredibly moisturising for your hair, and helps prevent breakage caused by heat and brushing damage. It also gives your hair a lovely shine!
7. Hair sunscreen
This is a little known product, but like your skin your hair can also be damaged by UV rays- we all know that the sun turns us blonder, and this is actually damaging for your hair. The same way we would use suncream on our skin, it’s important to protect our hair from the sun, so this is why I recommend hair sunscreen to prevent your hair becoming dry and brittle. I like this one from Clarins.
8. For blondes (the unnatural kind)
As all those who dye their hair blonde know, it doesn’t take long for brassiness to start creeping in. You can use a silver shampoo (available quite cheaply- I use this one from Provoke) but you may not know that silver shampoo can be quite drying for your hair. Stylists don’t recommend you use it more than twice a week or so at home, so while you’re on holiday with all the other factors like sun, salt water and chlorine also drying your hair, I’d limit your use of it as much as possible and make sure you follow the other tips about conditioning your hair. I also use LUSH Daddy-O solid conditioner which contains violet pigments to help keep those orange tones at bay.
The saying goes ‘you are what you eat’ and that’s especially true when it comes to hair. Your hair is made of proteins, and it’s important that you eat enough of them to ensure healthy hair. Fats are also an important part of your diet- your scalp needs them to ensure adequate oil production for your hair! I like to eat plenty of chicken, eggs and avocados as well as cooking with olive oil to ensure my body gets enough of these. I also take some supplements which aid hair growth. I like to use Omega-3 supplements, which are bodies are unable to produce naturally, as they promote hair growth and add sheen and lustre to my hair. I also take biotin supplements. A deficiency in biotin leads to thinning and breaking of hair, and I find when I take more and hit over the recommended daily allowance for a month or so (30 mcg) my hair grows faster and feels thicker and stronger. I used this to grow out my hair quickly after a regrettable home dye job.
I couldn’t write this whole post without mentioning the effects of heat on your hair. We all know that heat is bad for us. It opens up the hair cuticle, drying out our hair and making it look dull. It will eventually lead to breakage and split ends if you straighten/blow dry your hair too much. For this reason, I pretty much only use straighteners on my whole head once a week and just tidy up the front every day. I also don’t take a hairdryer on holiday as the air temperature usually dries it in no time. At home, use as cool a setting as you can and only aim the hair dryer downwards, in the direction of the hair cuticle. As paradoxical as this sounds, towel drying is also bad for your hair as it roughs up the cuticle and causes tangles. Let your hair air dry- if you stop using heat so often, it allows your hair to take it’s natural shape and you may discover curls you didn’t know that you had.
This may sound like a lot to take in, but it’s stuff I’ve learned over years and just incorporated it bit by bit into my daily routine. I once heard someone say that your hair is the outfit you wear every day, and when you approach it like that it makes sense to take the best care of it that you can. Now I’ve passed on all of my secrets and hair-related wisdom- go forth and enjoy your holiday knowing that you should come home with a healthier, stronger mane than when you left!