Is your salt spray damaging your Hair?

Ah, shit.

salt bae su.jpg

If you’re like us, you’ve probably *just* purchased another bottle of salt spray, ready to get the summer started with a sexily-tousled wave (or just enough of a texture change-up to make a day-4 messy bun look...intentional).

And like us, you can attest to there being *literally* nothing better than a dip in salty ocean...that warm no-need-for-a-towel air, the things it does to your acne, your soul. Clearly, even the most askew of logic would assume that bringing that HOME forever is the hands-down only thing to do.


I’ve been thinking (and talking to several beauty editors/founders/developers) over the past few years specifically about sea salt and potential damage. For one, I know that sea water can have an incredibly therapeautic effect on the skin (it’s been touted to aid in releaving symptioms of eczema, psoriasis and scalp sensitivities), but the real issue is with the hair follicles themselves. If you have coloured or dry hair (which probably means any of us at some point in life), not rinsing the salt out immediately can cause additional damage, dryness and breakage. "As the sea has high salt content, it is osmotic, meaning that it leaches water out of your hair," says Elizabeth Cunnane Philips, a trichologist based in New York City.

And for me, that’s the clincher - I love the effect of salt-influenced locks. I love going for a swim, reading for three hours, having a nap on a chaise lounge (in my dreams, fyi) and then somehow going to dinner with no consideration of how my hair is going to be managed. The sea does that - it’s so wavy and majestic that everyone just *knows.* It’s mother nature, after all. Isn’t there nothing more luxurious than doing nothing at all?

Now, though salty strands can cause dehydration and breakage, I’ve noticed many brands going around the issue by infusing hydrating ingredients into their products to bookend the salinity. The original salt spray by Bumble and Bumble does this with something called a “beach protective blend,” using coconut fruit extract, algae extract, vitamins, minerals and amino acids to “guard against the drying effects of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.” Now, this is no way states that coconut oil is a great sunscreen alternative (I for some reason can’t get the visual of basting myself like a turkey out of my head), but it DOES help in blocking an estimated 20 percent of the sun's damaging rays, while still allowing for UV penetration. In short? It’s a great moisturizing barrier to add to a salt spray, but is it a sunscreen I’d rely on? Heck no.

Haircare brand Verb combines sea salt with sunflower seed extract and quinoa protein for a nourishing boost a la Bumble, DryBar and Herbivore (all approved by Su’s tribe of haircare professionals, though not tested by us), the last of which uses aloe water as the hydrating hero. Jen Atkin’s Oaui, however, formulated a wave spray that nixes the salt altogether, focusing instead on a hydrolized rice protein and keratin situation that impressively holds up all day.

So, our status on salt spray? Make sure to live by the rule of balance, as in, add salt, wash out said salt and then moisturize the f@!#k out of those strands. It’s the best of both worlds, and we’ll never tell you not to be a mermaid.