School's out and holiday season is here, which means gin and tonics on the balcony while the kids are in bed, sun-soaked strolls across packed beaches and ice lollies aplenty. Woohoo. Sand, sea and (hopefully) sun, nothing better, eh? Except of course, where our hair is concerned. Surfy beach hair is all well and good in principle, but often matted, gritty and decidedly unsexy in practice. So, since no-one fancies frazzled hair, a little TLC is in order. Here are the best products to deliver soft, silky hair with a little colour protection thrown in, too.
Best if you're out in the sun all day: Bumble & Bumble Invisible Oil Primer
Of course most of us know that we need to protect our hair when using our straighteners or blow dryer (even if lots of us don't), but many of us don't take steps to shield our hair in the sun, which can cause it to dry out and colour to fade. Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer is brilliant for remedying this, and is a doddle to use. Spritz it all over wet hair before blow-drying, or on dry hair before you head out in the sun. It protects against heat and UV damage and also has argan and coconut oil to make it feel generally softer, smoother and less fluffy.
Best if you've gone swimming: Philip Kingsley Swimcap
Originally created for the US Olympic synchronised swim team, Philip Kingsley's Swimcap is a hair prep applied to damp hair before you hit the pool. It does an excellent job at preventing natural and colour-treated hair from going green in chlorine, and also protects against UV rays and drying salt-water, leaving hair extra soft.
BEST if you've got dried out ends: Dove REGENERATE NOURISHMENT Serum-In-Oil
I've been swimming regularly this summer, and was sporting some pretty knackered ends after repeatedly soaking my hair, blasting it with a hair-dryer and then tonging it to within an inch of its life. The best thing I've found to restore silkiness, is Dove's Regenerate Nourishment Serum-in-Oil which contains a deeply conditioning complex made from keratin (the protein found in hair). Consider it intensive therapy for very dry ends.
BEST If you've just had your hair coloured: SCHWARZKOPF COLOUR SEALER CONDITIONER
Specifically created for preserving coloured hair, Schwarzkopf's Colour Sealer Conditioner contains a technology called Omegaplex. It protects colour by strengthening the tiny bonds within each hair fibre, reinforcing it's structure to prevent breakage and colour fade. Plus, it leaves hair deliciously soft. Great stuff for extending your hair's colour at home or on hols. For blondes, expert hair colourist Jo Hansford recommends using shampoos and conditioners that contain violet pigments to "brighten and help maintain colour". I've heard great things about Pro:Voke's Touch of Silver Brightening Shampoo.
BEST if you've been on the beach: Mane 'N Tail Detangler
Gritty salt and lapping water are a lethal combination for knots, which is why you'll often find hair a pain to brush after a day on the beach. Chlorine also dries hair out making it trickier to comb. Salvation comes in the form of Mane n' Tail's magic detangler, which coats each strand with nourishing horse chestnut and clover extract to encourage slip. Instead of dragging, it helps your brush glide through hair, no problem. The Pool's Mel has been using it on both her and her kids.