If you are reading this article, it is because you, like me, love the sea! Diving, kitesurfing, wakeboarding, sailing, snorkeling, swimming, you name it. I can stay in the water forever. My hair, not so much… It is obvious to all of us that our hair requires specialist care when it comes to water sports.
Our hair structure consists of two main parts: the hair root (bulb) inside the scalp and the hair fiber that is exposed to external elements. The hair fiber itself comprises an inner core and an ‘outer’ protective layer made up of scale-like structures. This protective layer is known as the cuticle, and its primary role is to shield the inner core from external factors. These external factors can include exposure to water for extended periods.
In healthy and strong-looking hair, the hair fiber core is hydrophobic, meaning that it does not take on too much water too quickly. When damaged by sun, heat, or chemical substances, this cuticle layer becomes less firm and porous, allowing the influx of damaging substances into the core – water and salt being two of these. When saturated with water, the core swells, and the cuticle scales cannot expand and are forced to stand up. Thus the cuticle layer becomes more porous and starts losing the structure and, as a result, the elasticity.
Preventing Saltwater Damage
What is the best hair care product to protect from saltwater damage? Taking into account the science above, hair oil is definitely at the top of the list.
Hair oil is capable of entering the hair’s inner core, restoring that hydrophobic (water-repelling) property while providing nutrients and, at the same time, coating the outer cuticle layer of the hair fiber. As a general rule, saturated and monosaturated oils have the ability to penetrate into the hair because of their compact molecular structure.
Polyunsaturated oils, in fact, do not penetrate into the hair because of a more open and spread-out structure. Thus, we depend on their fatty acids and triglyceride composition. Hair oils will penetrate or coat in different ways, leaving our hair well-nourished or greasy and heavy.
You need to achieve the right balance of the oil blend for optimal hair protection in salt water. The best natural oils are those rich in various components like vitamins and polyphenols. These substances are key for providing the optimal nutrients to repair the damaged hairs’ outer structure, bringing back elasticity, shine, and volume.
Understanding the science behind hair care and choosing the right product is important. So is rinsing your hair with fresh water immediately after each water activity. Remember to reapply the product between sessions and consider braiding long hair to prevent tangling.
When I started my diving career, I was advised to saturate my hair with conditioner prior to entering the water. The hair seemed to have a certain degree of protection, but I was feeling guilty for leaving the substance in the ocean as it would wash out very easily. From that point, I started the search for a natural product that would remain on my hair. I have tried numerous oils, but it wasn’t until I teamed up with the Doctor and the laboratory professionals that we created Li Lé Blue Watersports Hair Care, a natural formulation for effective hair protection. Dermatologically tested and reef-friendly certified.
I deeply love the sea. I am grateful for every opportunity I get to spend time in and on the water: diving, swimming, or just chilling on my paddleboard. Doing all that whilst protecting my hair without harming the beautiful aquatic ecosystems that I love so much – that is the one true luxury I allow myself to indulge in!
Copyright Fotos: Blue Ocean Stories S.L.