The Panel: Hair guards
Thanks to care and repeated applications of sun-protection and aftersun creams, our skin tends to return from holiday in good nick but, sadly, the same can rarely be said for our hair. Sun, sand and chlorine are drying and they can devastate coloured hair, but we don't often think to protect our tresses. Further, the scalp gets seriously overlooked and regularly burned, with balding heads or the strip of scalp that's exposed by a hair parting getting scalded year in, year out.
A richer, restorative shampoo and conditioner will help to save your hair from looking like a bird's nest by a break's end, but, by the same token, sprays and creams containing UV filters will protect both the hair and the scalp. The sun will also work with them to condition, heating up the product -- almost baking the nourishment in.
As a quick guide, our testing showed that the salon brands came out on top, and while they're dear, a little of each product went a long way, containing enough for more than a single holiday. Think of them as multi-trip insurance for your head.
Aveda Sun Care After-Sun Hair Masque, €24.50, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16; selected spas and salons nationwide
Tamanu, neroli and coconut oils, along with vitamin E and morikue protein, among other riches, combine to create a rich conditioning masque that's not too heavy. It does not demand that hair is towel dried, just damp, and it only needs two minutes to work, making it effective without the faff. "I used it as my regular daily conditioner on a recent holiday and I came home seriously glossy," said a panellist with long, highlighted hair.
Kerastase Bain Apres-Soleil, €19, salons nationwide, for stockist information, tel: (01) 604-5935
Containing vitamin B5, which is supposed to protect the vibrancy of coloured hair, and including ingredients that clear away any residues that might be left behind by the beach or pool, this is a good all-rounder of a holiday shampoo. "It smells nice and it left my hair super soft," said a thick-haired panellist with a tendency to holiday frizz. "I only wash my hair daily when I'm on holiday, but this didn't overstrip or exhaust it."
Best Sun Spray
L'Oreal Solar Sublime Advanced Protection Conditioning Spray, €12.05, salons nationwide
Sprayed onto dry or damp hair, this protects from salt water and sun damage, thanks to Mexoryl SO, an ingredient which is also in sun protection for skin. It dries to a sheeny but not slippery finish and has a light scent of exotic fruit. "By far the nicest of the protection sprays," said a limp-haired panellist. "I hate ones that stay greasy or have shimmer. I barely made a dent in the bottle over the week."
Best Sun Cream
Redken Color Extend Sun Waterwear, €23, salons nationwide
A slippery cream that goes on much like a conditioner and then dries to a rock-hard wet look. Specifically designed to protect colour, it's also a barrier for the scalp. "Brilliant, once you get past having hard hair, which looks like you just got out of the sea," said a curly-haired panellist. "Not one for the city break, but it really preserved my hair at the beach."
Nexxus Phyto Organics Sea Swell Ocean Air Texture Mist, €14.95, salons nationwide, for stockists tel: (045) 856-490
Marine minerals and seaweed extract add to the thickening, texturising effect of this spray, which can either be used with heat-styling tools for a smooth finish, or applied and left to dry naturally for a beachy-headed, matt mane. A natural UV filter and aloe and camomile help to boost condition. "It gave me the sort of hair I thought was unattainable," said a blonde, fine-haired panellist, "Gives loads of volume and a texture I associate with brunettes."
Pictured, from left: Aveda Sun Care After-Sun Hair Masque; L'Oreal Solar Sublime Advanced Protection Conditioning Spray; Kerastase Bain Apres-Soleil; Nexxus Phyto Organics Sea Swell Ocean Air Texture Mist; Redken Color Extend Sun Waterwear
Sunday Indo Life Magazine