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"When women are busy and active in the summer, they often forget to take care of their hair," says Sam Villa, design training consultant for Redken. The result, come September: dry, damaged locks that lack luster. To nurse your hair back to health, try these strategies:
1. Start with a trim. Sun and chlorine can sap your hair's natural oils, which under normal circumstances keep it protected and supple. This results in split ends and frizziness. A trim of half an inch makes hair look better instantly.
2. Rehydrate daily. In place of your regular conditioner, look for a product that's made for after-sun use, like John Frieda's Kelp Help ($6.50). These hydrating hair balms are often richer and more healing than traditional conditioners. Apply conditioner after you shampoo. "Rinse it out like conditioner if your hair is relatively healthy. Or, if hair is very damaged, don't rinse and use as a leave-in," says Villa.
3. Use the right shampoo. Shampoos made to wash out chlorine are great for days when you're actually swimming. But if you already have chlorine damage, those shampoos don't do much good. Instead, use a hydrating type like Biolage's Hydrating Shampoo ($13.49), which adds moisture while it cleans.
4. Wash only when necessary. "There's nothing better for your hair than its own natural oils," says Villa. But shampooing every day washes those oils away and doesn't give them time to work their way down the hair shaft, nourishing as they go. Try to go at least a day between shampoos -- two to three if your hair can handle it.
5. Brush away! Another way to let your hair's natural oils repair damaged strands: regular brushing. "It distributes the natural oils and encourages shine. I recommend my clients brush their hair every evening using a boar bristle brush," says Villa.
6. Look for signs of serious dehydration. "If your hair won't hold a style no matter what you do to it, it's very dehydrated from the summer," says Villa. To remedy, avoid drying styling products such as gels containing alcohol, and maximum-hold hairsprays.
7. Step up the hair nourishment in your diet. According to Villa, good fats, such as omega-3s, and B vitamins actually help hair grow strong, shiny, and full of body. Try adding salmon, tuna, nuts, and seeds to your diet (just a small serving a day should do it).
8. Use cool air to dry. The heat from your blowdryer will damage hair just as the sun does. While you're nursing your hair back to health, switch to the cool setting.
9. Lay off the hot tools. Heated metal styling tools, such as flat irons and curling irons, can make summer damage even worse. The good news is that textured styles are back in vogue, says Villa, so you can safely give your tools a rest and still look chic for the fall.
10. Try a salon treatment. While at-home hair masks can be somewhat healing, a professional moisturizing treatment can repair damaged locks and impart shine more effectively. What's more, they're quick and relatively inexpensive.