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Photograph: Courtesy Shhh (Asaya)/Nicholas Wong

Expert tips on how to protect your hair outdoors

Celebrity hairstylist Marvin Lin shares tips and tricks on how to keep your hair healthy while enjoying Hong Kong’s outdoors
Written by
Tatum Ancheta

Whether it’s hiking the city’s best trails, camping, or exploring Hong Kong’s secluded islands and beaches, exploring the great outdoors has been everyone’s pastime these days. Spending time outside and getting a boost of vitamin D is great for the body and the soul, but it can get a little harmful to your hair. The sun’s harmful UV rays, salt from the beach, dust and dirt from the wind, and other outdoor elements can damage hair just as much as it does our skin. So, it is important to think about ways to maintain your healthy locks and keep your hair protected from the elements. We talked to celebrity hairstylist and Shhh salon creative director, Marvin Lin, to get some expert advice on keeping your hair healthy when heading outdoors. As an outdoor enthusiast herself who usually goes surfing on Repulse Bay and Sai Kung, she shares tried and tested tips on how to care for your hair to avoid frizzy, bad hair days. 

RECOMMENDED: After reading about protecting your hair, hit up this list for expert tips on how to plan your outdoor adventure.  

Follow Lin’s tips for keeping healthy hair when enjoying the outdoors

Photograph: Courtesy Marvin Lin

1) Water activities like kayaking, coasteering, scuba diving, or surfing involve the sun and the sea. What are the things we can do before and after heading out to the sea?

I love heading out to the sea and often go wakeboarding and surfing with my friends (plenty of evidence on my personal Instagram). That means we are constantly exposed to the sun, the sea, and that takes a huge toll on our hair and scalp. Protection and replenishment are essential. And don’t forget the scalp – it is just as important because healthy hair grows from a healthy scalp. But protecting hair and scalp does not simply require the extra step of applying something on your hair before you hit the ocean; it begins with a consistent regimen of using the right products to keep your hair and scalp at their optimal condition. 

2) Hiking, cycling, and rock climbing expose hair under the heat of the sun. How do you prevent frizz, and keep a healthy scalp and hair?

Prolonged exposure under the sun could lead to moisture loss and major damage to our skin. Wearing a hat or cap made from breathable fabrics with anti-UV properties is a great idea. Applying a product that acts as a barrier and protects hair from UV rays without weighing hair down, would keep the frizz at bay and minimise moisture loss. 

3) How to keep hair protected and healthy before and after a swim?

I go swimming a few times a week, and actually some of our salon clients are former swimmers for the Hong Kong team. Sharing some of their advice – swimming cap, the kind that keeps water out, is a must. After the swim, I encourage double cleansing to ensure all the chemicals and impurities from the pool are removed, while the water-oil balance and hair moisture can be restored using our OMG treatments available in

4) How to protect coloured hair from the toils of outdoor activities?

Hair colour fades due to the increased exposure to environmental stresses and that is a natural phenomenon. Many of my clients are quite active outdoors, and in order to maintain their hair colour and condition, I recommend them to do treatments, whether coming to our salon or using our products for treatment at home. 

5) What’s the best summer hair care routine?

In summer we secrete more sweat and sebum due to the more intense heat and humidity, thus the pores can be blocked more easily and the scalp can experience imbalance, not to mention how the hair could become less manageable. A proper hair care routine cannot be without scalp care that addresses the root of the problem (pun intended). Using the right products that effectively repair, fortify, and maintain the hair structure makes a big difference – this is a better way to minimise frizz and moisture loss than piling on hair oils or creams that tend to be too heavy for summer in Hong Kong. The stronger the hair is, the more bouncy, awakened, and youthful it looks. An additional layer of sun protection that nourishes and hydrates with anti-static and anti-pollution functions would be beneficial.

6) What are the perfect summer haircuts or hairstyles that you’d recommend for the hotter weather?

Consider a haircut that is 30 percent shorter than usual, with a contrasted balayage [a highlighting technique that creates a more natural, sun-kissed color] that accentuates hair’s layer and texture, so that hair would look and feel more uplifting and less heavy in humid weather.   

7) What are your tried and tested sun-protection products for hair and scalp?  

Our OMG Backstage blow dry lotion plus Ready to Glow leave-in treatment are my trusted duo against heat, UV, and moisture loss. I use them generously for myself to protect my bluish violet hair. They are formulated to work as a primer that coat and protect the hair shaft with anti-UV, anti-pollution, and anti-static properties, while adding argan plant stem cells, argan oil, collagen and hyaluronic acid to strengthen hair. OMG Backstage is a light milky lotion that can be sprayed all over hair and adds natural volume and bounciness, whereas Ready to Glow is a featherlight gel-to-oil that absorbs right into hair, so hair becomes nourished, shiny, hydrated, and protected without being weighed down.

8) Is the use of a hair dryer, especially during hot summer days, safe for daily use? 

After washing, the hair and scalp is moist, and because the scalp is part of our living skin it is warm as well, so it would become the kind of environment where bacteria would thrive. Drying hair as soon as possible after washing would prevent bacteria build-up. Heat is used for shaping hair, the same way we use a hot iron to de-wrinkle clothes. Usually there are multiple heat settings on the hair dryer – we recommend medium to moderately high heat and power, while keeping a safe distance between the air outlet and the hair and scalp. 

Just as you would not leave the iron on the same spot for too long – that would burn the fabric! –  you need to keep moving the hair dryer in the direction of your hair cuticle, from the roots towards the ends, with the air blasting downwards and outwards. As long as you do this properly, your hair should not become even more frizzy. Using a boar bristle brush would help smooth the hair cuticle and reduce frizz too.

9) Are there other tips you’d like to remind people who enjoy the outdoors?

Take advantage of summer and enjoy it to the fullest! Just remember that washing your hair is in fact an opportunity to improve your hair little by little every time, as long as you are using the right products and in the right way. Do this and you won’t have to worry about damaging your hair when you go outdoors or head to the sea.

Lin recently opened the second branch of her luxe Sheung Wan salon Shhh at premium wellness centre Asaya in Rosewood Hong Kong. The new Asaya branch integrates Shhh salon’s award-winning hair treatments and hair wellness expertise to the centre’s holistic approach to wellness.

“Here guests can take a break from the cityscape and immerse in an array of health and wellness experiences with a variety, quality, and dedication that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere in Hong Kong,” Lin explains. “Coming to our branch in Asaya means you can enjoy all of this, which could be a wonderful experience, whether you just linger for the day or come for a staycation. Whereas our original SHHH salon in Sheung Wan focuses exclusively on hair and scalp and has more of an edgy gallery vibe tucked among the antique shops, art galleries, hipster cafes, and restaurants on Hollywood Road,” she adds.  

Shhh is located at Asaya, 6/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui. For updates and more information, follow Shhh salon on Instagram.   

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