What To Look For In a Conditioner For Sun-Damaged Hair

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Summertime salt and sun may feel like pure bliss in the moment, but after days, weeks, and months of exposure, your skin and hair can begin to suffer. How these elements affect our skin isn’t much of a secret, but our strands are a different ballgame. Even if we don’t see the consequences right away, our tendrils do get tired.

Why does hair suffer during summer?

According to celebrity hairstylist Stephen Knoll, there are many aspects of summer fun that are, well, not so fun for your strands. “Your ends split and your hair is absorbing UV rays, heat from the sun, sand, and salt from the sea and wind, and chemicals from the pool,” he explains. “There are many adverse exposures, so you always want to protect your hair and rinse it clean.”

In fact, during summer, he says it’s best to rinse hair before going in the pool or sea, as salt and chemicals are better able to penetrate dry hair than damp strands. Additionally, he says that carrying a hydrating hair mist in your summer adventure tote is key. “One way of protecting the hair is by using the Stephen Knoll Hydrating Serum Mist which is a great tool to carry in your beach bag, or when you’re poolside because if you cannot rinse your hair (which is always the best option), you can use it to instantly neutralize all of the harsh elements that are damaging and drying your hair,” he explains.

How to repair sun-damaged hair

While that method works well during the heat of summer, once the season’s warm temps tumble into fall, it’s time to look for ways to rehydrate frazzled summer strands. According to Knoll, one of the best ways to instantly nourish damaged hair is to add a high-quality conditioner to your haircare routine.

“Remember, the hair doesn’t split only at the very end, it continues to split up and along the strand.,” he warns. “That’s why it’s essential to protect and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize your hair!”

With that in mind, he says that some ingredients are particularly helpful when aiming to rehab dry, damaged strands. Namely, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, and safflower oil. “Jojoba oil prevents split ends, rosehip oil rejuvenates the hair follicle, and safflower oil adds moisture,” he says. Another ingredient he recommends? Hydrolyzed silk peptides.

“Hydrolyzed silk peptides are rich in amino acids and supply the hair with protein to maintain its integrity and reinforce weakened hair,” he shares. “It infiltrates the hair shaft so that it is moisturized and strengthened from within. It creates a protective barrier around each hair strand protecting it from further damage.”

Of course, those are just a few hair-repairing ingredients. Others include smoothing argan oil (which also works to help restore elasticity in strands), hydrating coconut oil, and plumping hyaluronic acid. Even still, other deeply hydrating, and highly reparative ingredients exist. But, to uncover them all—and to then find conditioners formulated with them—can be quite the task. To save you from searching, we went ahead and rounded up seven top-rated conditioners to restore your post-summer strands. Check them out, below.

7 best conditioners for sun-damaged hair

sun-damaged hair

Moroccanoil, Hydrating Conditioner — $26.00

Straight, wavy, curly, and coily hair types can greatly benefit from this deeply hydrating, delectably-scented conditioner. It’s formulated with smoothing argan oil, free radical-repelling algae extract, and vitamin A, so it works to rehydrate and protect hair all at once.

sun-damaged hair

Dae, Signature Conditioner — $24.00

We love a deeply-hydrating conditioner but we also adore a divine scent. That’s why this citrus-scented conditioner is so high on our list. Made with strengthening moringa leaf extract, hydrating coconut oil, and antimicrobial false daisy extract, this conditioner moisturized strands, minimizes flakes, and helps repair and prevent split ends.

Amika, Normcore Hydrating Conditioner — $21.00

Beloved by over 12,000 Sephora shoppers, this Amika conditioner is a godsend for all hair types struggling with post-summer dryness. It’s infused with fatty acid-rich sea buckthorn oil, which strengthens and protects hair so intensely that it basically instantly revives strands after each wash. Plus, it smells fab.

sun-damaged hair

Briogeo, Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Super Moisture Conditioner for Dry + Damaged Hair — $39.00

One of my all-time favorite conditioners, Briogeo’s buttery formula is a miracle worker for parched strands (especially if split ends are part of the equation). It’s made with smoothing and hydrating argan oil, nourishing and strengthening algae extract, and panthenol, which works to improve hair’s elasticity and moisture retention. Just keep in mind that a little goes a long way. As someone with long, fine hair, I find that a nickel-sized amount is plenty to work through my mids and ends. (Otherwise, it can weigh strands down a bit thanks to all the hydration it packs.)

Drunk Elephant, Cocomino™ Marula Cream Conditioner — $25.00

Over 16,000 Sephora shoppers agree: This moisturizing marula butter conditioner makes hair shinier, softer, and more manageable with each and every wash. It also has a lovely sweet almond scent that will make your shower smell heavenly. And it’s Drunk Elephant, so you know it’s good.

sun-damaged hair

Oribe, Gold Lust Repair & Restore Conditioner — $52.00

Willing to really invest in your restorative post-summer haircare routine? This luxe, UV protective conditioner from Oribe is worth every penny. Infused with biotin, plant collagen, caffeine, and niacinamide, it strengthens and invigorates strands by sinking deep within them to hydrate hair at the core while warding off further damage in the process.

sun-damaged hair

Stephen Knoll, Daily Mask — $45.00

Stephen Knoll’s Daily Mask comes in three iterations: the Light Texture Daily Mask, Natural Finish Daily Mask, and Smooth Calm Daily Mask. While all of these masks deeply condition the hair, the Light Texture Daily Mask adds volume without weighing the hair down, the Natural Finish Daily Mask leaves strands feeling silky smooth, and the Calm Daily Mask de-frizzes even the most unruly hair. So, while not technically a conditioner, these masks work to replenish sun-damaged strands all the same.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.