The trend may be beachy hair and tousled mermaid strands, but divers know that constant immersion in salty water and chlorine along with sun damage can wreak havoc on your tresses. Instead of shiny, healthy hair, we’re often left with a dry, frizzy mess after just a few dives. But here’s the remedy — eight top tips to help you tame your diver’s mane, leaving your locks lustrous instead of parched and brittle.
Wet your hair pre- and post-dive
“The best thing to do before a dive in the ocean or pool is to wet your hair thoroughly with fresh water,” says Manhattan hairstylist Stacey Ross. “Regular water acts as a barrier between your hair and chlorinated/salt water, reducing the drying effects on your hair’s cuticle. After your dive, rinse off the chlorine and salt immediately with fresh water again.”
Slather on marine-friendly conditioner with UV protection
Before each dive, coat your hair with conditioner that doesn’t harm the marine life around you. This adds yet another barrier preventing chlorine and saltwater damage. I like scuba diver-owned Stream2Sea’s Leave-In Hair Conditioner which also includes UV protectors against sun damage. Scuba Diver Life readers can snag 20 percent off Stream2Sea through January 31 with the “TameYourMane” promo code.
Note: Some people recommend coconut or other oils, however, a study by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science shows that pure oil does not provide adequate UV protection. For example, coconut oil only has an SPF of 1. In addition, some environmental scientists have noted that emulsified products such as conditioner break down faster in a marine environment than pure oil.
Use a weekly mask/deep conditioner
Return moisture to your hair and help protect each strand with a nourishing mask or deep conditioner. An intense weekly treatment can help repair the damage done by salt, sun and chlorine.
Buy a detangler and use it properly
Hair is easily damaged when wet. Buy a special detangling brush or wide-mouth comb made to treat your hair gently. Slowly brush/comb your hair from the bottom, working your way up slowly through any snarls.
Avoid mask and snorkel clip damage
Prevent hair damage from the silicone straps on your mask with a mask-strap cover, and keep your snorkel out of the way of your hair. While some folks may recommend ditching the snorkel entirely, I like to keep mine in my pocket for easy access during rough conditions or long swims at the surface.
Use the right hair accessories
Whether you have long or short hair, our favorites are the Scap neoprene cap and Scuba Do Rag’s Coco Big Oh headband, both created for scuba diving. Both work well for short or long hair and will keep pesky fly aways out of your face (and mask).
Find the best underwater hairstyle for you
You must find what works well for you and your specific hair type. Here are some recommendations:
- Use multiple hair ties, spaced a few inches apart down a low ponytail.
- Keep your hair fully contained under a hood or other large hair covering.
- Try a low ponytail thoroughly wrapped with string or a hair wrap.
- Try braids or French plaits.
- A low pony tail/braid gathered on the side can help avoid entanglement with your first stage.
- Try a bun at the very top of your head.
- Wear your hair loose under a wide headband.
Ease off the heat
Finally, stay away from hot styling tools like blow dryers and straighteners until your hair is back to normal. If that’s not possible, use the cooler settings to reduce the damage. Otherwise, you’ll compound the problem before your hair has a chance to recover from the sun, salt and chlorine.
Coming up from a dive, we may not always look like mermaids, but the tips above will ensure you’ll rock a gorgeous head of hair post shower.