Your Guide to Fall Hair Repair

Helena Cohen, owner of six-time Best of Boston winner Ardan Medspa + Salon in Wellesley, shares her secrets to reviving those dry and discolored tresses post-summer.

woman with long pretty hair

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Summer is over, and all that remains are your memories—and possibly some crispy sun-damaged hair. Here, Helena Cohen of Ardan Medspa + Salon offers tips for fall recovery.

The Problem

Exposure to chlorine, especially during the summer months, isn’t the only contributing factor to brittle and discolored ends. Hard water, or the water that most of us wash our hair with, is high in minerals including iron, copper, calcium, and magnesium. Minerals like iron and copper can cause hair discoloration, from darkening to the extremes like green or orange tints. Meanwhile, calcium and magnesium, which are responsible for the white buildup in your shower, can create a comparable buildup in your hair that leaves it dehydrated and weighed down.

Both discoloration and mineral buildup not only have unsightly effects, but also prevent the execution of dye jobs. “It’s like building a house on water instead of a good foundation,” says Cohen. “If the foundation is not good, we can’t build on it. We can’t color it.”

The Treatment

Especially if you plan on coloring your hair this season, Cohen recommends a demineralization treatment first. Using an all-organic gel and heating cap, the process releases minerals and chlorine that have been sitting in your locks. This provides a clean slate for coloring techniques such as low lights, highlights, balayage, and ombre.

The treatment reinvigorates hair with shine and volume, and is also suitable for anyone who experiences similar mineral buildup from routine hair washing or discoloration from pool water. For the best results, Cohen says demineralization should be done once every 12 weeks or approximately four times a year.

What to Do at Home

To keep your locks looking luscious, Cohen suggests applying a nourishing product (such as Kérastase’s Elixir Ultime) five minutes before washing. Then, she advises using a regular conditioner or mask with added oil if your hair is dry. Among her favorite healing supplements is Camellia oil, derived from the plant used in all types of tea. According to Cohen, application of these products is essential during fall and winter, when dry apartment heat and cold blustery air wick away essential moisture from your hair.

What to Buy at the Store

As a general rule of thumb, Cohen claims consumers should  avoid using products with high alcohol contents, as they strip the hair of natural oils.

“Use products that help get into the hair, not coat it,” Cohen says. “It’s worth using a very high-end product to get good results.”