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OMG, Salt Does WHAT to Your Hair?

Summer means surf, sand, and the shore – and as great as freshly beached hair can look, it turns out salt is actually really damaging to your mane. We checked in with salt-free champion Jim Markham, the Founder and CEO of ColorProof to find out exactly how salt damages and what to do about it, without compromising our beachy waves.

Salt Exfoliates, Causing Breakage

Salt causes damage because it acts as a natural exfoliant; this means it lifts and roughs up the cuticle, stripping the hair of moisture, nutrients, and even color. “The result is dull, dry, lackluster hair that is weakened and more susceptible to breakage,” explains Jim Markham.

While all hair types and textures are susceptible to salt damage, the more damaged hair is already, the worse it will fair when exposed to salt. “Color-treated hair is particularly vulnerable because the cuticle has already been lifted in order to deposit color,” explains Jim, adding that salt causes further irritation to the hair shaft, inflaming damage and thus stripping out color.

Salt exposure can be cumulative on the hair, causing breakage in the long term as it deteriorates further. Overall, “salt weakens the hair depleting it of strength and elasticity, “ says Jim. Again, because salt is an exfoliant (which is great for the skin on your body – but not so much your tresses) hair is stripped of both moisture and color, leaving it dull and with a lack of vibrancy (sad face emoji).

Opt For Salt-Free Formulas

Avoiding salt isn’t as easy as steering clear of the ocean, as it is a commonly used as a thickening agent in many of your fav products. “Salt is inexpensive and effective at adding viscosity, however, it is also very effective at damaging hair,” says Jim. “We have discovered there are other natural thickeners available that are equal (or better) in performance but are gentle and non-stripping. Consumers can avoid salt by searching out salt-free beauty products. If a product contains sodium chloride on the ingredient listing, skip it,” he continues.

The salt issue doesn’t stop at hair care – skin care formulas often also contain salt – and too much can also cause the same tell-tale drying effect.  “Be wary of your styling products,” notes Jim, who adds that all ColorProof products are 100% salt-free. Unfortunately, your salt quest doesn’t stop there. Salt, and other damaging hard water minerals (including chlorine) can also be found in tap water, which is why it’s a good idea to install a filter on your shower head to reduce exposure to the stripping stuff and avoid any possible further hair damage.

(Image via ColorProof)

Detox Your Mane

If you do head to the beach, make sure to wash your hair ASAP to rinse out any possible salt traces – no matter how good your mane may look. “One of the most effective ways to wash out salt is to use a salt-free, clarifying shampoo, such as ColorProof’s ClearItUpDetox Shampoo: $30. ClearItUp utilizes a proprietary blend of seven sulfate-free, salt-free surfactants to gently cleanse without stripping color. This detox treatment rids hair of salt, hard water minerals, chlorine, build-up, and even some medications, leaving hair fresh, vibrant and protected,” advises Jim. Otherwise, you can live your best beach hair life, just do it sans sodium. 

HERE’s how Gigi Hadid’s stylist creates such sexy beach waves. 

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