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Tress destress

Although it can't burn in the same way that your skin can, exposure to UV radiation can cause quite severe damage to your hair. The sun damages the melanin in hair which causes hair to turn lighter. It also breaks down the keratin proteins in hair, which reduces its elasticity and leaves it more susceptible to damage.

In addition, depleted levels of keratin mean that hair loses strength and shine, so your hair will feel brittle and look dull along its whole length.

The salt in seawater is similarly bad for hair, stripping it of moisture. And before the greasy-of-root among you start leaping around the place, punching the air with your fists and shouting "wohoo!" thinking this sounds like good news for your oily locks, remember that your mid-lengths and ends will be similarly affected.

Avoiding saltwater exposure by swimming in pools isn't necessarily the solution, though: chlorine can wreak havoc on blonde and highlighted hair.

THE GREEN-HAIRED MONSTER

Keeping your hair out of chlorinated water altogether or wearing a swimming cap are the only surefire ways to prevent artificially lightened hair from acquiring that dreaded green hue. Taking a shower before and after your dip will help to keep Hulk hair at bay, as will slathering on a leave-in conditioner before you hit the pool.

What to do if the unthinkable does happen? Well, there's a surprising -- and delicious -- answer to that problem. Tomato ketchup (yes, really!) will neutralise those unwanted green hues. Apply to hair, work through with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb, and leave on for 10 minutes before shampooing it out. In severe cases, a repeat red-sauce treatment may be necessary to get rid of all the green.

IT’S A COVER UP

Without question, the simplest way to protect your hair -- and head -- from the sun is to cover them up. If you're up for something a little bit different, why not channel your inner Carrie and emulate her desert SATC2 look with a chic headscarf or mini turban?

Otherwise, you can always don a hat -- just be sure that it's made of a closely woven material to keep those UV rays at bay. While trendy, many of the straw trilby or cowboy-style offerings that are piled high in the shops at the moment are inclined to be full of artfully placed holes, and as a result are not going to cut the proverbial mustard.

For maximum brownie points, choose a style which features a wide brim: it will offer your forehead, face, ears, and the back of your neck protection, as well as keeping the sun off your hair.

TYING UP LOOSE ENDS

If headgear's not your thing and your locks are long enough, put them up in a bun — either a messy, casual number or an immaculately groomed chignon, whichever you prefer (or can manage). Minimising the amount of hair that's exposed to the sun in this way will at least help to protect the ends. You can further help hair by generously spritzing on a product which contains a UV filter, but don't apply this until after you've tied your hair up.

Oh, and if you usually wear a parting in your hair, now's the time to ditch it if you can. Although it is possible to apply sunscreen to the scalp that your parting leaves exposed, it's fiddly and can leave roots looking greasy. Instead, pull long hair back as you tie it up, or use hair grips to clip back a section from the front of hair to cover the parting.

Shorter styles could just be pushed back with a hairband or slicked back using your suncare hair product of choice.

OUT, DAMNED SALT!

Even if you're not blonde, saturate your hair with freshwater (either from the tap or shower, or a bottle if you're out and about) or coat it with some leave-in conditioner before taking a dip in the pool or the sea. Both strategies will help to lock out chlorine and drying saltwater. Be sure to rinse hair in freshwater again immediately after your swim.

REPAIR, RESTORE, REJUVENATE

If your hair does get fried and takes on an uncanny resemblance to Worzel Gummidge's strawtastic barnet, lots of TLC will be required to restore it to its former glory. Use a gentle shampoo formulated for damaged hair and pair it with a nourishing mask. Follow with a leave-in conditioning treatment for the intensive moisture infusion that parched strands so desperately require.

Avoid traumatising stressed-out tresses any further by limiting, or eliminating, your use of hot styling tools. Allow hair to air-dry naturally, step away from the straighteners, and don't touch the curling tongs!

Book yourself in for a trim to get rid of any badly damaged or split ends. Losing a little length for the overall condition of your hair is no sacrifice. Take a deep breath, and remember that hair grows more quickly during the summer, so you'll be back to your old length in no time.


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