The daily splashing in the pool at our household is a sure sign that we're in the heat of high summer. The pool keeps the kids cool and happy, and happy kids make for a happy mom. The only thing unhappy about the swimming season is my daughter's hair. Her long locks suffer from dryness and mega-tangles. Brushing it out is a long and tearful affair. My daughter is tired of it and so am I. I'm anxious for ideas on a trouble-free haircut and perhaps some products to help her hair make it through the season. "Shorter hair is going to be easier to maintain on a daily basis because you just put a little product in it and go," explained Fantastic Sams stylist Ryndie McMillon. "But with shorter hair, you are going to end up getting more frequent haircuts. The neckline and hairline start to get a little shaggy so you have to keep the maintenance up on it. But though it takes a little more haircut maintenance to keep a short style, it takes a little more styling daily maintenance to have long hair. But if you have a pair of trimmers and somebody at home that can keep the haircut trimmed up, you are much better off going with a short haircut for ease of styling.
"Ten-year-olds, most of the time, end up with a longer haircut because their parents don't know anything else to do, and they like a little girl with long hair. And unless the parent is keeping up with brushing the hair, making sure that it looks nice, it's going to fray, and look nasty. So I suggest going with a little short pixie or a short neckline bob, which always looks cute on a little girl; it's very cool and versatile for the summer. A short pixie is like a Peter Pan cut, but for a girl, it's real textured, soft on the edges. It is a scissor cut; you are going to point-cut it. It has a lot of texture -- a lot more feminine then a boy's cut would be.
"A neckline bob is a slight undercut; it's all one length and then a slight undercut. Basically what it means is that it will have small layers underneath the haircut."
What happens to the hair in the summer?
"The sun bleaches hair out," she explained. "It strips all the melanin and strips all the carotene. If you have blonde hair and are swimming a lot, always fill your hair with water or conditioner before you go into the pool. That will keep you from ending up with green hair, because your hair will absorb all that fresh water. If you jump right into the chlorine pool with dry hair, your hair absorbs all the chemicals and chlorine."
Other tips from McMillon: "Don't wash the hair every day; that'll frizz it and fry it out more. Brush it and use spray-in detangler. Rinse it after you get out of the pool, but shampoo and condition it only every three days or so."
For over-the-counter recommendations, "I like L'Oréal Kids Tangle Tamer [$4.49 for nine ounces at Vons]. For salon products, we sell a Fantastic Sams Leave-In Conditioner [$8 for 12 ounces], and you can't go wrong with Paul Mitchell's Detangler [$4.18 for 8.5 ounces at Fantastic Sams]."
Brenda Orcutt at Kids Hair Salon in Grossmont Center has been cutting kids' hair for 13 years. "The haircut sort of depends on how often the kids are in the pool and whether or not their hair is fine," she offered. "One of the simplest haircuts is the short bob. If the hair is finer, then a short bob works well because it's a very easy haircut to maintain. If the hair is coarser and thicker, then sometimes it's not quite as easy to maintain. Some girls go for an old-fashioned wedge -- think Dorothy Hamill. It's carefree and easy -- a swing haircut. Pretty much shake your head and go. Not a lot of maintenance on that at all.
"The sun does create a problem," says Orcutt, "but it's not as bad as wind whipping through hair, which pulls moisture out of hair, or chlorine, which damages hair, and saltwater, which dries hair out. Those things are
bigger culprits than the sun."
When it comes to swimming, removing the chlorine from the hair is key, says Orcutt. "Most professional product lines carry a shampoo that will remove chlorine from the hair, but you need to start using the shampoo at the beginning of swimming season and use it all through to prevent the hair from getting chlorine into it. If you start using the shampoo halfway through the season, it will only slowly remove the chlorine. If there's chlorine in the hair, it'll get brittle and tangle a lot, and when wet, it feels sort of slimy." The saleslady at Empire Beauty Supply pointed out Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three ($6.88 for 8.5 ounces). "I have heard good things about this shampoo for removing chlorine," she offered. "My favorite lightweight spray for detangling is the Catwalk Fast-Fixx [$9.88 for eight ounces]."