Summer weather is once again upon us, and you’re probably looking forward to soaking up some sun, relaxing on the beach or sipping Mai Tais on a balcony. No matter how you like to enjoy summer, one thing’s for sure: your hair doesn’t appreciate the warm weather as much as you do.

Dry, flaky, brittle, dull, limp … if your hair matches this description, it is definitely crying out for help. These are the classic signs of heat damage. Just like you need to protect your skin with sunscreen before you head outside, you need to give your hair a little TLC to keep it in top condition.

Here’s how you can avoid damaging your hair this summer, and how to treat it if you suspect it’s too late for prevention.

  1. Use sunscreen for your hair. Choose a product specially formulated to protect your hair, not your skin. The best products will block harmful UV rays while also preventing damage from heat. If you plan to spend time in the water, look for formulas that offer chlorine or saltwater protection, especially if you have color treated hair.
  2. Use a heat protectant before you style. If you use hair straighteners and curling irons regularly, this step should already be part of your hair care routine. But if you think occasional heat won’t damage your hair, think again. Always use a heat protectant to give your hair extra moisture while you style. You can also use a heat protectant product before spending a day out in the sun.
  3. The low heat setting is your friend. It’s important to invest in a great hair dryer and other tools so that you can choose between different temperatures depending on the texture of your hair. Fine, thin hair cannot handle the same intensity of heat as thicker hair, for example. Be sure to use the setting that is correct for your hair, and even if you do have thick hair, try the low heat setting and see if you notice a difference.
  4. Just one pass is enough. No matter how careful you are to use heat protectant when styling your hair, if you continuously go over and over the same section of hair with the intention of getting a stronger style, you’re simply causing damage. Just one pass should be enough.
  5. Repair your hair with deep conditioning treatments. Hair masks offer a nourishing and enriching treatment that reaches deeply to the roots of your hair, making not only your existing hair beautiful, but giving a fresh start to the new growth as well. Look for masks specifically designed to treat heat damage. Protein masks are another ideal option.
  6. Wear hats, scarves or other hair coverings outside. Just like you might choose to wear a long-sleeved sun shirt to the pool or beach to protect your skin from sun damage, you can also protect your hair from heat damage from the sun with a physical barrier. This is especially useful if you recently had to apply a moisturizing treatment.

Remember, summer heat damage can affect your hair not only due to the styling tools you use, but also because of the hot summer sun beating down on your scalp. Combine all of the above tips to avoid heat damage in all of its forms this summer and enjoy shiny, healthy, vibrant hair no matter your plans.