Tips for Maintaining Your Hair in the Tropics

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Woman in bikini on tropical beach with hibiscus flower in hair
Image: © Maridav

The heat and humidity of the tropics can create all sorts of hair-related problems. Frizzy hair and split ends are common as the humidity combined with extended exposure to excessive levels of UV rays makes hair more prone to becoming dry and brittle.

At the same time, the scalp is more prone to oiliness in this climate, resulting in hair fungus and itchy scalp. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with tolerating a messy mane. There are things you can do to keep your hair healthy and manageable regardless of the weather or humidity levels.

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The first step is to invest in the right hair products. Everybody’s hair is different in terms of texture, dryness, or oiliness. Moreover, everybody’s hair reacts differently to the tropical heat and humidity. Before you buy any haircare products, you must first determine your hair type so you’re using the right cleaning and styling products for your hair type.

Is your hair dry or oily? Does your hair tend to get limp or frizzy in humid weather? Do you spend a lot of time outdoors during the day and is your hair exposed to UV rays for long periods of time? Is dandruff a problem you struggle with?

Bottles of hair care products on a shelf
Image: Engin Akyurt

Certain shampoos, conditioners, and other hair styling products are formulated for certain hair types and some products are formulated for resolving specific issues such as taming frizzy hair. With the wrong products for your hair type, no matter how much time you spend caring or styling your hair, you’ll never get the results you’re hoping for.

Investing in hair care products formulated for your hair type is the first priority to getting silky smooth hair that looks great and is more manageable. After that, follow the steps below to keep your hair looking good and healthy:

Shampoo Regularly

Shampooing regularly with the right type of shampoo will help to remove excess greasiness, dirt and pollutants without drying out your hair or scalp. Be careful not to overdo it though. Over-washing your hair and excessive use of shampoo will eventually damage your hair. Also, avoid using a shampoo that contains harsh chemicals such as paraben or sodium lauryl sulphate that are known to strip the hair of its natural oils.

Always Use Conditioner

Using a conditioner is a must after shampooing. This is for all hair types. Hair strands are made up of a cuticle layer that protects the delicate inner layers. Time, the weather, and other factors can wear down the cuticle layer and loosen the bonds that hold the cuticle cells together, causing the hair to look unruly or limp.

Back view of a woman shampooing hair in an outdoor shower.
Image: © brizmaker

Hair conditioners contain oils, humectants, and fatty alcohols, all of which work together to coat the strands of hair and hold the cuticle cells tightly against each other. This makes the hair feel softer, smoother, and more manageable. Remember, it doesn’t help to rub conditioner into your scalp. Conditioner only helps your hair strands, not your scalp.

It only takes a few minutes to condition hair after shampooing but what a difference it makes!

Pamper Your Hair

Once in a while spend a few minutes more to apply a conditioning mask. To do this, coat your hair with a generous amount of conditioner. Wrap a warm towel around your head and leave for about six to eight minutes before rinsing your hair in warm water. You’ll find your hair feels so much softer and smoother after this deep conditioning treatment.

If you spend long hours away from home and your hair tends to get frizzy towards the end of the day, try using a leave-in conditioner. This is a type of conditioner that you apply after towel-drying your hair after a shower.

Back view of a woman combing in conditioner to her hair.
Image: © piprod

You apply the conditioner, comb it through your hair using a wide-toothed comb, and let your hair dry naturally. The leave-in conditioner keeps your hair coated throughout the day, so it stays more manageable for a longer time.

Dry the Right Way

It feels so good to rub your hair and scalp vigorously with a towel after a shower, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that vigorous towel-rub can make your hair more prone to breakage. Wet hair is delicate. When you rub wet hair vigorously and in all directions, it creates static and also damages the hair follicles. The result is hair that looks frizzy and also breaks easily.

The right way to dry your hair to dab from the roots up to the hair end with a dry towel. Dabbing your hair gently in one direction reduces static and minimizes follicle damage. If you have long hair that keeps dripping excess water while you’re dabbing at the roots, hold the ends between the folds of the towel for a few minutes to let the towel soak up the excess water.

Avoid using hot tools on your hair. Many hair styling tools like blow dryers, curling tools, and flat irons, which use heat, suck away the moisture from hair strands, leaving it dry, brittle, and frizzy. Styling your hair with a hot tool can also make hair more prone to breaking.

Woman using a hair curler brush on her hair.
Image: © Alexandra Morosanu

Try and minimize using heated styling tools on a daily basis. Keep them only for a select few special occasions. For other times, keep it simple and stick to styling your hair naturally. If you’ve been using a hair dryer or flat iron regularly, stop for a couple of weeks and see the difference it makes to your hair health.

Additional Measures

If your hair is extremely frizzy, you may need more than the above haircare measures to keep your hair looking sleek and shiny.

Anti-frizz hair serums contain keratin and nourishing carrier oils such as argan oil, castor oil, and jojoba oil, all of which work wonderfully to strengthen the bonds in your hair cells. This prevents breakage and tames the excessive frizz.

Applying hair moisturizer at least once a week can also help to tame very frizzy hair. Hair moisturizers are formulated to hydrate and nourish your hair, minimizing dry split ends and reducing frizziness.

Schedule Monthly Treatments

Do you use a lot of hair styling products such as gels, hair sprays, hair serums, pomades, and hair mists regularly? A simple, rushed shower does not wash these products away completely from the hair strands. While a small amount of residue may not make a difference, eventually it builds up. The built-up residue together with the humidity can cause your hair to look dull, limp, and lifeless.

View of woman in a mirror combing her hair.
Image: © Josep Suria

If you do use hair styling products regularly, the best way to reduce the build-up is by deep cleaning your hair at least once a month. It’s easy to deep cleanse your hair at home but be prepared to spend some time. Exactly how long it takes will depend on the length of your hair.

To do a deep cleanse, dry massage your scalp for a few minutes to dislodge the buildup of residue, excess skin cells, and dandruff. Then run a soft brush through your scalp and hair to remove the dislodged debris. If you have dry hair, follow this up with a warm oil massage. Leave the oil on for at least half an hour before washing it off with warm water. Skip the oil massage if you have oily hair.

After a Beach Day

Your hair requires a lot of TLC after a day at the beach – there’s no ignoring this. In fact, there are things you should do even before you head out to the beach. The sun, sand, and seawater all combine to severely damage your hair, making it frizzy, brittle, and more prone to breaking.

Wearing a sunscreen for hair and scalp is just as important as wearing sunscreen on the rest of your body. A good sunscreen will form a shield around your hair, protecting it from the intense UV rays and reducing their damaging action on your hair. This preventive step can make the world of a difference to the health of your hair at the end of an enjoyable day at the beach.  Just like sunscreen for the skin, you need to re-apply the hair sunscreen every 2 – 3 hours.

Tanned woman at beach with frizzled hair.
Image: Mark Rojo

Wearing a hat will also protect your scalp and hair from sun damage. When you get home, no matter how tired you are, avoid the temptation of getting into bed without washing your hair. Your hair, which is dry and brittle from a day at the beach, will be more prone to breaking when it comes in contact with your pillow.

It’s really important to stand under a warm shower and wash off the sand, seawater, and sunscreen from your hair before going to bed. Follow this up with a good conditioner to restore hair health. When you wake up and your hair doesn’t show any signs of sun-damage, you’ll be glad you took the time to pamper it after getting home.

Don’t let the tropical heat and humidity control how your hair looks. With a little time, persistence, and the right haircare products, you can get your hair looking great all day long, no matter what the weather conditions.

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