There is one thing every girl who surfs has in common. I mean, besides all the requisite health and physical benefits – one of the downsides is, we all have hair problems. Just think of putting a fine strand of silk in salt water and then letting it bake in the sun, then wetting it again, then letting it dry…then repeat this for hours, sometimes weeks in a row (ah, if we’re lucky). And not to say we don’t have great hygiene, I mean, we’re soaking clean (depending on the water quality of course) for a good few hours a day. But maybe we don’t get all the salt water out, and it stays in our hair ’til we wash it that night…or we surf again and once we’ve rinsed off again we have maxed out on water for the day so we avoid the house shower and instead put our last bit of energy into getting a barbecue going…and then we don’t wash it in the morning ’cause…we gotta go surf! This uncontrollable behavior just adds to the problem. After collecting tips from hairdressers and other surfin’ wahines, I have compiled a list of the best-kept secret hair tips for the girl in the curl…
1) Wet your hair before you go out into the water. (This tip was gifted to us by Gwen at Paul Marie Salon in Hilo – check ‘em out, they give good head…of hair…) Hair, when dry, acts like a sponge, absorbing water into it. Having it absorb regular water first will prevent it from absorbing the salt. And you may question the ability of hair to absorb large amounts of anything. But any long-haired girl who surfs can attest to the weight that is added to her head as her neck is being annoyingly tugged back. Just to emphasize its absorbency, NASA studies have indicated that hair may be a very useful tool in cleaning up oil spills. Future fem scientist Marguerite Blignaut, at the Kentucky Junior Academy of Science, followed it up with her own study and concluded: “Hair absorbs the oil which means the oil collects under the surfaces of the hair fibers. I used human hair in mesh bags and floated them on 10w40 oil-water mixtures. After two days I removed the bags and let them dry. An increase of mass indicated the amount of oil absorbed. I found that human hair does remove oil from the water surface and that straight dark brown hair seemed to be the most efficient.” Thanks Marge, good to know. Does this mean they’re using hair to clean up Exxon disasters? Doubtful. It more likely explains why it’s so hard to get the oil off of the poor birds. And it becomes clear that, whatever your hair absorbs while it’s out in the ocean, likes to hang out in the fibers.
2) Put conditioner in your hair too. I know, this seems silly, since it would surely rinse out in the waves, right? Well, there are a few factors involved. It nicely coats your hair and keeps it protected from absorbing other things. Some conditioners even have UV blockers. You put sunscreen on your face and sure, in the end much of it comes off (sorry sea turtles) but it keeps you protected while it lasts. With my thick hair, it holds it in, and I usually notice it’s still in my hair when I’m rinsing off at the shower. My not-natural favorite to use for this is Bumble and Bumble’s Deep Conditioner; more natural is Burt’s Bee’s Avo Deep Conditioner and almost all-natural-fave is the Phyto line (for leave-in use Phytodefrisant!). My hair prefers when I mix it up a bit, despite scientific claims to the contrary. Oh well, according to their “calculations” those scientists still don’t believe women “bloat” before their period. I’ll also vary my hair-coating tactics on occasion with things like jojoba oil (this is actually a wax so it’s more safe in that regard), argan oil, kukui nut oil, and balms with a combo of oils and nut butters. These are best for the thick/frizzy-haired types.
3) Braid your hair. Many surfer girls opt to keep it short and carefree, but if this is not you, and if your hair is long enough, braid it! This will protect the more exposed and fly-away parts of the hair from getting too much sun and drying out. Tighter braids will seemingly keep it from absorbing so much water and also hold that conditioner in. And hey, maybe even keep it out of your face while going for that huge airdrop take-off.
4) Diet and stress affect your hair – no lie! Veggies are essential but vegetarians/vegans should make sure to supplement with some hemp or rice protein! BioSil by Jarrow Formulas is biologically active silicon that is essential for bone maintenance, joint function, and collagen production; meaning it’s great for your skin and hair too! Flax seed oil keeps it flaxen. Vitamin B’s and B-12 sublingually (or if you’re in Hawaii eating a banana or Australia eating your vegemite!) is highly advised for everything from stress to breakdown of carbs to glucose and fats and proteins for the nervous system and even hair quality. I also like the Emer’gen-C packs with the Bs and C when taken pre-surf. Bonus is they seem to offer added protection (at least keeps my throat from getting sore and belly from churning) when surfin’ after a rain or near river mouth bacteria or at a spot where they like to spray herbicides/pesticides all around the beach park. Yum! Chemical exposure, medications, alcohol consumption, smoking, caffeine, and lack of sleep also affect your hair. Basic theory: do whatever keeps you healthy, happy, strong. Lucky most of us surfer chicks do just that!
5) Don’t over-shampoo. Many water girls use conditioner as their “shampoo” – myself included. But you should shampoo once a weak to clean build-up and start anew. Try to avoid the overly harsh ‘n’ toxic WalMart-kine hair care (Pantene, Suave, Clairol…etc.). The other thing is investing in a few great conditioners and varying them. Once a week, do the heavy-duty therapy. The best deep conditioner I’ve found recently is Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil Replenishing Pak. One $2 packet lasts four deep treatments. Or you can try free samples from Namasté Laboratories: $1 shipping and handling fee for every two you select http://www.organicrootstimulator.com.
6) Don’t brush your hair while it’s wet. I remember going to the Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles a few years back. The trip ended up forcing our photographer Don Lewis into a hilarious misadventure to Judge Whapner’s People’s Court due to a photo he took of a kid there and us publishing it in our magazine – but that’s another story; he won. Anyway I was awestruck by these huge displays showing before and after microscopic images of the human hair brushed when wet vs. brushed when dry. Suffice to say…don’t brush your hair while it’s wet. Coconut Girl Wireless contributor and my very big-haired surfing cohort Ms. ReefRash sez she won’t be able to get the knots out otherwise. Copy that! If that’s the case with you, use a quality thick-toothed comb or pick, put a little leave-in conditioner first and try to let it dry a little before workin’ on it. Then do so gently and hold the hair so it doesn’t stretch and snap
7) Wear a hat! Protect the hair while protecting the face. Reefrash wears a hat when surfing because she is about as white as a haole girl can get (nah, they can get a little mo’ white). But she knows how to pull off the look (and not everyone can) because…she has no choice. Please beware; she’s working on a full-on mask to cover her face. So if you see her out there…paddle fast and hard and don’t look back!
8) I have no idea what else. I do know that Hawaiian women were traditionally famous for their lovely long brown hair. Was it the coconut water/oil treatments they did after swims? Was it their rich diet that included poi, banana, papaya, lilikoi, coconut, sweet potato, breadfruit, laulau, fish and seafood? Maybe drawing from a gene pool (including those of the Asian races that have mixed here) that is renowned for their beautiful skin and luscious hair doesn’t hurt. Worthwhile thoughts on the matter or product tips are always welcomed! Have a great hair day!
Hey, by the way, this is very important – disclaimer!: No health or medical or dietary supplement advice should ever be considered without the approval of your omnipotent physician. Make sure on your next visit you ask what hair care products he/she uses! All seemingly knowing advice that appears within this article are simply humble opinions to be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, same grain of salt we are protecting your hair from…. meowxo