6 Hair-Saving Tips for Summer, Straight from a Superstar Colorist

 Photo:  @Melotones

Photo: @Melotones

Warm weather and travel are tempting you out of the city, but is your hair ready for non-stop fun in the sun? According to CK Karkhanis, colorist extraordinaire at Alex Chases Salon in Union Square, all the things you love about vacation—sunbathing! swimming pools!—wreak havoc on your hair color. Luckily, there are some simple solutions to minimize that damage. Below, CK shares six expert tips on maintaining your hair color during the summer.

1. "The less you shampoo, the better."

Everyone feels gross and wants to shower after a long flight, but every time you wash your hair, you're washing more of the dye out. "Even if it’s a color-protectant shampoo, you’re scrubbing the dyes out of your hair," she says. As an alternative to a traditional wash, CK suggests using dry shampoo, or even rinsing your hair with only water. But there's an exception...

A post shared by CK Karkhanis (@ckcolorpro) on

2. Always shampoo immediately after swimming

"If you’re in the pool, keep your hair out of the water, or shampoo it right away," CK suggests.  (The same rules apply to swimming in the ocean.) Of course, there are times you can't avoid submerging your head, like when you're swimming laps or diving. In those cases, preventative maintenance can go a long way in saving your hair. Look for pre-swim conditioners or oils to treat your hair before you swim. And while we're talking about preventative care, don't pull on a swim cap or scuba mask over wet hair. "If your hair is really fine, over time it can break your hair," she says. If you're going to dive, pull on your scuba mask over dry hair, and add your swim cap over the mask strap.

3. You might need more than one shampoo.

Different shampoos serve different purposes, which means you may need multiple types to keep your color looking fresh this summer. "The Oribe [Cleanse Clarifying Shampoo] acts as a clarifying agent, which is good after chlorine. It’s basically to demineralize your hair. Those shampoos are pretty drying as well because they’re stripping your hair. You don’t want to use that too often. I would alternate between that and a moisturizing shampoo," CK says. When you’re in the sun, your hair is going to need moisture, so think about adding a moisturizing conditioner or keratin treatment to your haircare routine. You can find tons of different products at Sephora. Just look for one that says "moisturizing" or "conditioning."

 Photo via  CKColorPro

Photo via CKColorPro

4. Don't be a slave to the ponytail.

Long-haired folks: CK wants you to mix things up. "When you pull your hair into a ponytail, the  sun exposure to the top of your head can oxidize your color. It’s not that the ends got darker, it’s that the top got lighter," she says. "I saw this all the time with the women in the Hamptons when I was in New York." (CK used to work at the world-famous Sally Hershberger Salon in Manhattan.)  Her advice? You need to equalize the amount of sun exposure all your hair gets. Try alternating between pulling your hair up, leaving it down, and braiding it. And if you do opt for a ponytail, wear a hat. Even though the tail of your ponytail will get light, that will look more natural.

5. Treat your scalp like the rest of your skin

Guess what: your scalp can get a sunburn. CK says you should treat your scalp as an extension of your skin. "Hair is dead when it comes out of your head, but your scalp is not," she explains. (A lot of hairstylists are even being taught to look for weird spots on their clients' scalps.)

Since slathering sunscreen on your head isn't really an option, choose haircare products that have SPF. If you're recovering from a burnt scalp, consider a treatment like Oribe's Serene Scalp Soothing Leave-On Treatment. (It’s basically a leave-in conditioner for your scalp; the brand recommends it for relieving dry scalp symptoms like dandruff.) And remember: nothing protects your scalp or color more than wearing a hat.

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6. Refresh with a gloss

Sure, you should make an effort to protect your hair from sun and chlorine damage, but it doesn't make sense to forego all summer frivolities just to protect your highlights. "The truth is it’s about managing expectations," CK says.

To extend the life of your color between regular appointments, CK recommends seeing your colorist for a gloss. Glosses come in permanent and non-permanent (known as demi-permanent) varieties. A gloss can help create shine, and—depending on the formulation—make color darker or brighter, or neutralize tones. So if you're off to Thailand for two weeks next month, and Vegas a week after that, you can freshen up your color (and save a few bucks) by scheduling a gloss in between rather than a standard color appointment.

For dye-hard color enthusiasts, summer is prime time for experimenting with brighter blondes and bolder hues, but maintaining those shades requires extra effort. Follow these six tips, and you can extend the life of your hair color investment.

Want CK to work her magic on your hair? You can book an appointment with her here.