We love summer holidays – the tan, the cocktails, the culture – but is it ruining our hair? Hair care brand Philip Kingsley investigates…
New research commissioned by Philip Kingsley reveals that the three things people love most about summer holidays: sun, sea and swimming, are by far the most damaging for the health and appearance of the hair.
The research questioned over 2,000 women in the UK and found that the top three things reported to cause the most damage to hair when on holiday are:
- Sunshine (26%)
- Chlorine from swimming pools (25%)
- Sea salt water (18%)
While the effects of prolonged or excessive sun exposure for skin is well-known and adequate protection is sought, the same cannot be said for the hair and scalp. These are almost always left entirely unprotected against the summer elements, despite visible damage. For example, almost two-thirds (66%) of women admit that the sun causes a ‘huge to quite a lot’ of damage to the health of hair and scalp, with the most damaging visible effects reported being:
- Excessive dryness (19%)
- Frizz and split ends (17%)
- Colour fading (13%)
- Change in hair colour caused by chlorine (7%)
- Dry scalp (7%)
Some of the effects of holiday sunshine can be seen almost immediately, with over a quarter (26%) of women admitting that they have experienced sunburn on their scalps. However, most women report that the long-term adverse effects only reveal themselves at their worst either towards the end of their holiday (44%) or immediately upon arrival at home (40%).
Worryingly, when faced with the fact that “hair can burn just like the skin”, a staggering two-thirds (68%) of women said they were previously not aware of this. Such lack of awareness further adds to the figures of those experiencing hair and scalp damage from prolonged sun exposure.
For women who revealed they were previously aware of the effects of summer sunshine, great lengths are taken to protect their hair from sun damage. For instance, many opt to wear a hat on holiday despite it being uncomfortable (41%), others choose to remain indoors (11%), while some change their desired hairstyle to something more practical e.g. a bun instead of free-flowing hair (10%) to prevent exposure to the sun.
But it isn’t just the sun that can contribute to the adverse effects of holidaying. Chlorine can really dry out the hair and is especially detrimental to coloured, blonde hair, particularly as over a quarter (26%) of women admit that they go swimming every day that they spend on holiday.
Yet despite having directly experienced damage caused by sun exposure, chlorine and sea water, more than three-quarters (76%) of women still forget to take sun-protective haircare products with them on holiday.
Summer hair trends could also be a factor in hair health taking a dive during the summer. The research found that ‘beachy waves’ were the hottest summer look by far, voted for by almost half (48%) of British women. Yet, the desire for the effortless undone nature of the look, as sported by the likes of Alexa Chung and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, may be one of the biggest contributors to the adverse health of summer hair due to the increase use of hot styling tools and dehydrating salt sprays.
Of the women who attempted to recreate the look with salt spray, the majority (66%) admitted that they disliked how ‘crispy’ and ‘dry’ it made their hair look and feel. However, in a bid to achieve their dream look, they proceeded regardless.
This ties in with the finding that posting ‘holiday envy’ photographs on social media is essential, with women rating having good hair (36%), as even more important than flawless make-up (22%) and shiny, white teeth (27%).
Anabel Kingsley, Trichologist at Philip Kingsley comments: “Summer holidays may be one of the greatest times of the year but sadly, they can be one of the most stressful periods for the hair. Colouring and highlighting hair, as well as increased use of hot styling tools without adequate protection, can create a perfect storm of sorts for your strands when coupled with prolonged sun exposure, salt water, chlorine and humidity – all of which can exacerbate damage.
“Excessive dryness of the hair, sunburn and flaking of the scalp, split ends, colour-fade and even colour-change (when chlorine turns blonde hair green) are part of the ‘Five Signs of Summer Hair Damage’. Instead of being left with the frustration and expense of rectifying this damage post-summer, it’s much better to use preventative measures. I advise women to shield their hair and scalp from summer damage in a similar way to how they protect their skin. i.e. use protective sun-care products containing UV filters and moisturizing agents.
“For those who like to share their holiday snaps on social media, the desire for sporting tousled, beachy waves can be another major contributor to hair damage. The combination of hot styling tools and dehydrating salt sprays used to achieve the look can really add to general wear-and-tear. Thankfully, there are alternatives that can help you to create the look minus the crunch!”