Protect Hair from Heat & Humidity & Sun Damage in the Tropics

frizzy hair
••• Enjoy the beach instead of worrying about your hair!. Getty.

What's a woman to do when she's bound for a place with high temperatures and choking humidity? How can she prepare and protect her hair from sun and moisture so that her color looks real and the texture is glossy throughout the trip?

Colorist Stephen Sanna and co-owner Michel Obadia of New York City's Pierre Michel Beauty Salon offer their professional advice.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Start 6 Months Before Your Trip

Here's How:

  1. Go to a professional. For an occasion as important as a destination wedding, honeymoon, or major vacation, make an appointment with a hair professional. If you regularly manage color and styling on your own, a professional can correct mistakes, bring you up to speed on a current, flattering style for your face, and suggest the right treatment products.


  2. Erect a moisture barrier. The key to protecting hair from hot, humid weather is to create a barrier that moisture cannot penetrate. Deep conditioning and anti-frizz products are essential. A professional can recommend specific ones that will work best with your type of hair.


  3. Investigate new products. The New York salon helps its customers protect their hair with RepHair products by Pierre Michel. The exclusive line's daily shampoo, conditioner, volumizer for thin hair, and leave-in conditioner for thick hair all contain a unique natural botanical ingredient.


  1. Start frequent deep-conditioning treatments. Dry, chemically treated, and over-processed hair drink in rich moisturizers. Damaged hair can benefit from RepHair Deep Conditioning Masque and RepHair Leave-In Conditioner for thick to coarse hair. After shampooing, hair will look shinier and have extra body. If you're on a budget, alcohol-free Queen Helene Cholesterol Hair Conditioning Cream is available at most drugstores.


  1. Give yourself a natural heat treatment. If you're going to the beach prior to your trip, comb in Queen Helene or apply baby oil or cocoa butter to the hair and massage in. Shampoo afterwards. If you don't want the "wet look," use a sun protector spray such as Phyto Plage Protective Sun Veil. Either way, keep in mind that unprotected hair, like skin, will burn from prolonged sun exposure.


  2. Have fun with color. "People don't color hair simply because they have to," says Sanna, "but because they want to." If you have the time, begin to concentrate on achieving the right hair color six months in advance of your departure date.


  3. Time your tinting. Plan to have the final treatment done two weeks prior to departure. Color does not completely settle into hair until 2-3 shampoos after the procedure. "Your colorist should take your exposure to hot sun into account," says Sanna. "Sun will oxidize hair and can make it lighter than you want. Blondes want to avoid going too light and darker colors need to avoid brassiness. This is something we can compensate for in the salon."


  4. Don't be afraid of damaging hair. If you've never colored your hair before, understand that "products are much gentler now than they used to be," Sanna explains. He uses L'Oreal semi-permanent color. "It doesn't have harsh ammonia or peroxide. And since it closes the hair shaft, it actually makes hair shine more afterwards. People with thin hair reap another benefit," he adds. "The color coats the strands, making hair feel and look thicker."


  1. Get glazed. Ask to have a "glaze" applied after the color is shampooed out. It will make your hair much, much, shinier when blow-dried.


  2. Do it yourself...naturally. Determined to apply color at home? For best results, go no more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural color. Ask if your salon offers a free consultation to determine your true hair color and what shade will complement it. If applying highlights, have a friend help you; there are certain spots only a contortionist can reach.


  3. Blow-dry, rather than air dry, hair. Use a heat-activated styling product designed to maintain the hair's shape. For extra control ask the stylist to hot-iron hair after blow drying, or use a curling iron for a wavy effect. Finish off with a product such as Bain de Terre Anti-Frizz Hair Spray.


  1. Put a beauty team to work for you. The Pierre Michel Salon, for example, has bridal consultants who can provide everything from stylish updos to temporary extensions to perfectly painted toenails.


  2. Remember, the trip isn't just about your hair. It's about relaxing, having fun, and being together. So after you do your best to protect your tresses, forget about it and go enjoy yourself.



  1. Start to prepare by taking steps to building a good, healthy head of hair: Eat well, rest, and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Consider having a scalp treatment and massage.


  2. Remember this simple fact of chemistry: Water and oil don't mix. So use oil-based products to keep moisture away. Also stay away from gels or products with alcohol; they dry the hair.


  3. Plan to leave at least three hours for a salon experience — and use the time to relax.


  4. Men who have some gray and want to color their hair shouldn't try to eliminate it all; that will look unnatural. In the salon, Sanna "paints" away about 30 percent.


  5. If all else fails and your hair's a photographic disaster, take your photos to a designer who can Photoshop in a better 'do for you!

What You Need: