Surf Hair Care
If you spend hours in the surf you are going to need to look after your surf hair
I’ve just cut a good 4 inches off my long, sun-kissed, naturally-highlighted surf hair.
Tasseled, surfer girl locks that I had been growing for years. Surf hair that had formed part of my identity. Hair that was in such bad condition that it had to go. Can you relate?
If you have surf hair, you know the REAL surf hair: UV beached, sun-fried, split ends, hasn’t been cut for months, wavey like ocean swells, and dry like the Gobi Desert, then you need to read this article! Because the thing is, to maintain beautiful hair as a surfer girl you need to put a bit of effort in. I think that goes for all chemically treated hair but especially true if you have the extra impact of the elements drying out your lucious locks (or you are a blonde!).
When I was 14 years old, I literally just had to cut off all my ends because I was just a frizzball from the sun, like I absolutely killed my hair. So from that day on, I had leave-in conditioner stuck to me 24/7. Before and after every surf, I just layer on conditioner and hydrate as much as I can.
— Laura Enever, World Tour surfer & charger of big waves, interview with Harpers Bazaar
Coconut oil your hair before you surf
Before you go for a surf, take a teaspoon of coconut oil and rub it from the midlength to the ends. Coconut oil is the richest natural source of medium chain fatty acids. The vitamins and natural fats will nourish the hair and penetrate it deeper and faster than most conditioners. So every session you have with an oil in your hair, you will be getting a deep conditioning treatment as well a providing a barrier between the salt water and your hair. Win-win.
I use Moroccan oil religiously. I think it just works so incredibly and kind of coats my hair before I go in the water so the salt doesn’t absorb into it.
— Pro surfer Courtney Conlogue, interview with Harpers Bazaar
— Sally Fitzgibbon, World Tour surfer in an interview with Youthful Habits
Leave-in conditioner after you surf
Get moisture straight back into your hair as it dries naturally with leave-in conditioner. It appears It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in conditioner is in the beauty kit of EVERY pro surfer.
6x World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (who is basically the queen), mentioned in an interview that is a beauty item she can’t live without and Tatiana Weston-Webb states it is the surfer-girl staple … as do Kealia Moniz and Bruna Schmitz below. Time to invest I think!
Isabella Nicholls loves Sun Bum 3 in 1 spray leave-in conditioner (as do I, it smells amazing). If there is one thing you do for your surf hair from this whole list, it should be leave-in conditioner!
If you’re not using It’s a 10 Leave-In Conditioner on your hair at all times, you need to. Every beach girl carries this to hydrate and protect strands from sun and salt damage.
— Kelia Moniz, 2x world longboard champion in an interview with Teen Vogue
I believe It’s a 10 Leave-In Conditioner is possibly the most magical thing ever invented. It surprisingly works even better with salt-kissed strands from the ocean, but it’s my savior for restoring my hair when I get out of the water, too.
— Bruna Schmitz, Roxy ambassador and pro surfer in an interview with Teen Vouge
Hair treatments are a must
You don’t get those luscious locks without either exceptional genes or an excellent deep conditioning hair treatment! Sadly, I don’t have the genes so I do treatments. As do many other surfer girls. Oribe does a great selection of deep conditioning treatments. Kerastase also do an extensive selection of hair masques for all different hair types.
Since my hair is exposed to salt water, sun, and wind all day long, it’s priority for me to take care of my hair afterward. I start off by immediately rinsing it with coconut water to get rid of any dryness. Then, I treat it to a creamy mask like Kerastase Masque Chroma Riche, which is a great leave-in treatment to restore shine.
— Big wave surfer & Red Bull athlete Maya Gabeira in an interview with Teen Vogue
Wash the salt out immediately
In cooking, salt is used to dehydrate food and suck moisture out of it. That is exactly what the salt water does to your hair. As soon as you come out the surf, rinse all the salt out and rinse with fresh water.
I started seeing damage done to my hair at a very young age from all of the sun I was getting, so I started trying to leave it down while surfing to prevent breakage. Then, in the evenings after washing it, I added extra moisture.
— Roxy pro surfer, Monyca Eleogram interviewed in Refinery 29 article Professional surfer girl beauty tips
Braid your hair or leave it down when surfing
Braiding your hair will help keep the oil or hair mask in your hair and protect it from the sun. Leaving it down or having that braid will also stop it from breaking and any damage that a hair band will do as you get tossed around underwater.
I’ve been told it’s actually better for your hair to have it down or in a braid because it won’t tear your hair as much.
— Pro surfer Courtney Conlogue, interview with Harpers Bazaar
Don’t over shampoo
I’m definitely guilty of this. Two surfs a-day shouldn’t equal two shampoos a day. You’ll be stripping all the natural oils from your hair. Instead, rinse with fresh water and add conditioner. Many surfer girls advise doing this.
My hair gets robbed by the sun and salt, so [I use] Paul Mitchell Conditioner to try to put moisture back into my hair. Then, Lubriderm face-and-body lotion. Throw my hair in a bun, and I’m good to go!
— Holly Obermeyer, pro surfer interviewed in Refinery 29 article Professional surfer girl beauty tips
Invest in a Tangle Teaser hairbrush
Don’t cause more breakage to your surf hair than you have to. Using cheap brushes can break your hair and this will take years to recover from. Tangle teaser has pretty much-revolutionised hair brushes. You’ll never look back.
Header image was taken by the incredible Morgan Maassen – see more of his photography in our interview with him, or his films of the stunning and stylish Stephanie Gilmore.
More tips for surfer girls:
Surf Hair, Do Care: How to get beach blonde surfer hair
Best Surf Sunscreen – Full review & breakdown of top brands
How to lighten hair naturally without bleach and get surfer highlights
For Her Eyes Only – Surf tips for girls. Because all these things will happen to you!
The Do’s and Don’ts of Surf Bikinis
Surf packing list – What to pack for your next surf trip
Surfer Girl Style – Top 10 surf fashion staples
Best Surf Bikinis – Review of top active swimwear brands + discount codes
Have you got any tips for surf hair care? Any products or routines that have been a lifesaver? Let us know in the comments below!