The Surprising Ways Summer is Damaging Your Skin—and What to Do About It

Summer used to feel so pure. Picnic dinners, ice cream every night, and campfires by the beach. But in 2023, things look a little different. Sorry to bring (back) up the bad news, but climate change isn’t just the catalyst for our apocalyptic Instagram posts. Thanks to the early summer’s troubling AQI (Air Quality Index), we’re all scrambling for our masks once again. And our skin doesn’t like it either. Apologies to be the bearer of bad news, but as things worsen, many of us are seeking anti-pollution skincare to help combat side effects like premature signs of wrinkles, dark spots, and yes—so much more.

With these distressing details, it’s no wonder anti-pollution skincare is having a moment. As more brands declare themselves “anti-pollutant” and many buzzy beauty products claim to protect the skin from “chemical stressors,” you may wonder: what does any of that mean? Our skin gets exposed to many potentially harmful chemicals, toxins, and irritants every time we step outside. From the sun’s ultraviolet rays to man-made chemicals, our skin is faced with an onslaught of harmful agents all the time. For answers on the best anti-pollution skincare, we went to the experts.

Featured image from by Riley Reed.

Anti-Pollution Skincare: What an Esthetician Wants You to Know

Now that it’s summer, most of us are spending as much time as we can outdoors. Though it comes with benefits (vitamin D! serotonin!), our outside time can bring on hidden side effects as well. Just as we slather on our sunscreen before stepping outside, we need to become more mindful of our anti-pollution skincare rituals.

Anti-pollution skincare addresses oxidative stress with antioxidants and other free-radical fighting ingredients. Ingredients that target pollution can come with a range of abilities. Some actively fight pollutants, some reverse current signs of damage, and some help strengthen your skin barrier to prevent further damage. An ideal anti-pollution skincare routine would accomplish all of these functions.

To determine what to look for in anti-pollution skincare, I spoke to Erica Choi, Superegg founder and Licensed Esthetician. Below, she breaks down how pollution can affect the skin and shares the best anti-pollution skincare tips available. Read on for your ultimate anti-pollution skincare kit.

Image by Belathée Photography

What is pollution?

Pollution refers to harmful substances entering the environment. While higher pollution levels are often found in big cities due to their population densities and industrial activities, pollution exists in various environments. It is not limited to urban areas and can be influenced by factors such as industrial emissions, vehicle traffic, agricultural practices, and natural phenomena. Therefore, pollution is a concern that can affect different regions and is not just confined to big cities.

How does pollution affect your skin?

Pollution affects the skin in multiple ways. It contains free radicals that harm skin cells and accelerate the breakdown of collagen and elastin, leading to premature aging signs like wrinkles, skin discoloration, and loss of elasticity. Some pollutants stimulate melanin production, causing dark spots and uneven skin tone. Pollution can also clog pores and contribute to the development of skin imperfections.

Additionally, pollution weakens the skin’s protective barrier, making it easier for harmful substances to enter. This penetration causes irritation, redness, and increased sensitivity. Over time, chronic inflammation disrupts the skin barrier, resulting in dryness, eczema, and acne.

How to Protect Your Skin From Pollution

Wear SPF every day. UV rays from the sun can intensify the harmful effects of pollution on the skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily to shield your skin from UV radiation and pollution. Reapply often.

Cleanse effectively. It’s crucial to cleanse your skin at the end of the day to remove pollutants, dirt, and impurities that accumulate on the skin. Choose a gentle cleanser like our Gentle Elements Cleansing Foam, which effectively removes debris without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

Use antioxidant-rich skincare. Antioxidants play a crucial role in defending the skin against the harmful effects of pollution. Incorporate skincare products with antioxidants into your routine.

Moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier. Keeping the skin hydrated and maintaining a healthy skin barrier is essential for resilience against pollutants. Use a moisturizer to nourish and strengthen your barrier, which will help defend itself against harmful substances.

Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Anti-Pollution Ingredients

I wholeheartedly embrace the potency of antioxidants! These ingredients are essential for counteracting free radicals and diminishing oxidative stress, resulting in a radiant and resilient complexion. I particularly adore the benefits of vitamins C, B, and E, as well as green tea extract (with a special mention to EGCG), astaxanthin, snow mushroom, and various ferments. These ingredients work together to defend against environmental damage, ensuring skin remains nourished and protected.

Potent antioxidants to look for in anti-pollution skin care include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Retinol (vitamin A)
  • Vitamin E
  • Niacinamide
  • Resveratrol
  • CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10)
  • Polyphenols
  • Flavonoids
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Astaxanthin
  • Glutathione

Every product is curated with care by our editors and we’ll always give an honest opinion, whether gifted or purchased ourselves. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Image by Michelle Nash

At a glance: A pre-, pro-, and post-biotic cleanser that gently lifts away impurities and pollution to protect and repair your skin barrier.

Key Ingredients: Apple Amino Acids, Hyaluronic Acid, Lactic Acid, Prebiotics, Probiotics, Postbiotics

At a glance: A barrier-protecting cleanser to balance skin and soothe irritation or breakouts.

Key Ingredients: Lecithin, MicroSilver BG™

At a glance: A do-it-all facial spray that soothes irritated skin and has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

Key Ingredients: Hypochlorous Acid

At a glance: A daily powder exfoliant that fights pollutants and detoxifies skin.

Key Ingredients: Fruit Enzymes, AHAs, Activated Charcoal, Niacinamide, Red Algae, Tara Fruit Extract

At a glance: A revitalizing and protective serum that harnesses the power of antioxidants and other nourishing ingredients to shield your skin and brighten your complexion.

Key Ingredients: Vitamins B, C, E, F, K, Niacinamide, Licorice Root, Sea Moss, Hyaluronic Acid, Tremella Mushroom

Image by Belathée Photography

At a glance: A reparative serum that fades dark spots and soothes irritation.

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Amber Algae, Papaya and Pineapple Enzymes

At a glance: A lightweight serum packed with antioxidants to shield against outdoor pollution and blue light.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamins A, C, E, Cocoa Seeds, Exopolysaccharide

At a glance: An exfoliating and nourishing overnight serum to build your barrier and detox your skin.

Key Ingredients: AHAs, Phytic acid, Fruit enzymes, Spirulina, Seaweed

At a glance: A makeup-artist-approved moisturizer nicknamed the “a push-up bra in a jar” for instantly revitalizing your skin.

Key Ingredients: Peptides, Rosehip Oil, Rose Water, Aloe Vera, Vitamins A, C, and E

At a glance: Formulated with ingredients from the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, this detoxing mask provides a natural glow.

Key Ingredients: Blue Lagoon Microalgae, Blue Lagoon Silica

At a glance: This SPF creates a shield for your skin to protect against the sun and pollution.

Key Ingredients: Vitamin A, E and Aloe

At a glance: A setting spray-meets-mist that protects skin from every angle.

Key Ingredients: Marine Actives, Tara Extract

At a glance: Lightweight bronzing drops that double as an anti-pollution serum.

Key Ingredients: Cocoa Extract, Peptides

These Secretly Damaging Habits Are Causing Your Dry Summer Hair

There’s a theory that everything wanes at the midpoint. (It’s one that I’ve personally proven again and again.) Take, for example, the afternoon slump—that dreaded midpoint in the workday when our morning coffee has worn off and we’re ready for a nap. And though we start the new year off ready to tackle all of our goals, July comes and it’s time to re-motivate ourselves and get back on track. Alongside our energy and intentions, dry hair in the summer is a sad inevitability of the season.

The first few weeks of summer see us sporting new styles, enjoying our sun-lightened strands, and posting #nofilter selfies with our effortless beachy waves. But the beauty seems to fade halfway through the summer. While you’ve been living it up, your hair has been soaking it up: sun, sweat, seawater, chlorine, and unfortunately, wildfire smoke. Our locks take on a lot, explaining why so many of us suffer from dry hair in the summer.

We’re diving deep to understanding the root causes behind it and the steps we can take to treat it—and stop dry summer hair in its tracks.

Featured image by Teal Thomsen.

Image by Michelle Nash

Like having dry or oily skin, some people are more prone to drier stands in general. But no matter your hair’s texture or porosity, summer is the great equalizer. Many of the common causes of damage and dryness come together in the summer to weigh down your hair. But good news: the faster you get ahead of it, the less damage there is to undo.

With proper, preventative hair care, you can enjoy your summer while also enjoying your healthiest hair. Read on to discover why you get dry hair in summer—and what to do to prevent it.

Sun and Pollution Exposure

With all the great sunscreens available, it’s easier than ever to remember to slather on some SPF before you go outside. With your face and body shielded from the sun, your hair deserves the same treatment.

That’s right, your hair takes the hit from UV rays, too. Plus, with exposure to free radicals, pollution also breaks down your strands. Misting your hair with an SPF or a UV-blocking spray can help protect against sun damage.

Every product is curated with care by our editors and we’ll always give an honest opinion, whether gifted or purchased ourselves. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Supergoop! Proof Mineral Part Powder SPF 35

Supergoop! has an SPF for every occasion. This invisible powder SPF will save your scalp from any sunburn without drying it out.

  • At a glance: A powder-based mineral SPF for your scalp
  • Key Ingredients: Zinc oxide 24.7%, ceramides

Rahua Hydration Detangler + UV Barrier

This versatile styling spray enriches your hair with vitamins—thanks to its nutrient-rich, fatty oil blend—while fortifying it against UV rays and breakage.

  • At a glance: An oil-based detangling and styling spray that protects from UV rays
  • Key Ingredients: Morete oil, rahua oil, sacha inchi oil

Sun Bum Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30

This super lightweight mist creates a shield around your hair to protect your strands and scalp from sun damage. Made with fast-drying sunflower seed oil, it doesn’t weigh hair down. The mist even resists sweat and water for up to 80 minutes.

  • At a glance: Sunflower seed-oil-based SPF hair mist
  • Key Ingredients: Sunflower seed oil
Image by Michelle Nash

Heat Damage

We all know we can get damage from overusing heated styling products, which is why we recommend letting your hair air dry in the summer as much as possible. But did you know you can also get heat damage from spending too much time in high temperatures?

Apart from the beach, I’m looking for as many fun summer activities as possible to do inside with the AC on. But summer isn’t summer unless you spend it outdoors, whether you’re taking a dip, enjoying nature, or sunbathing. So make sure you use a heat protector before braving the heat!

Kérastase Soleil Huile Sirene Hair Oil Mist

This hydrating mist combines nourishing oils with thirst-quenching coconut water to reduce hair breakage and protect from heat, UV rays, and oxidative stress.

  • At a glance: A nourishing and protective hair mist and heat-protecting spray
  • Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, coconut water, UV filter

Oribe Invisible Defense Universal Protection Spray

Protect your hair against dryness, color fading, and frizz while preventing it from thermal damage up to 450 F. It also blocks UV rays and pollution and adds lightweight moisture.

  • At a glance: A detoxifying heat-protecting spray
  • Key Ingredients: Collagen, niacinamide, biotin

Amika The Shield Anti-Humidity Spray

Humidity and heat damage? Name a worse combo. This styling spray fights both, shielding up to 450 F and keeping frizz at bay for up to 24 hours.

  • At a glance: A style-extending spray combating heat and humidity
  • Key Ingredients: UV filters, hydrolyzed keratin
Image by Michelle Nash


It’s no secret that chlorine is bad for your hair. But turning your hair green from too much pool time isn’t even the worst of it. Chlorine is a chemical. It strips the natural oils from your hair, making it weaker and drier and even causing split ends. But you don’t have to sacrifice pool days for healthy hair. Just add a couple of hair essentials to your pool bag. And make sure to rinse as soon as possible.

Philip Kingsley Swimcap Chlorine Hair Protection Water Resistant Mask

This water-resistant hair mask acts as a swim cap to repel water and protect your hair. The blend of oils and elastic locks in natural moisture while keeping water out.

  • At a glance: A water-resistant hair mask that deep conditions and protects hair from chlorine
  • Key Ingredients: Hydrolyzed elastin, castor oil, olive oil

Malibu C Swimmers Wellness Remedy

Made for all of us who love swimming, this water-activated powder is strong enough to rinse the chlorine and copper from your hair and gentle enough to use often without stripping your strands.

  • At a glance: A powder-based detox rinse to reverse pool damage
  • Key Ingredients: Vitamin C complex

Bread Beauty Supply Mud Mask

If you’ve ever made a DIY mud mask for your face or hair, you know it can work wonders. But it can be messy and complicated to mix up on your own. This mud mask takes the tedium out of detoxing your hair from root to tip. It features a bevy of oils and nutrients to replenish and rest. Prepare for sparkling, strong strands after you rinse.

  • At a glance: A nutrient-infused clay mask to detox and strengthen your hair
  • Key Ingredients: Kaolin, bentonite, rhassoul clay, quartz
Image by Belathée Photography

Salt Water

Like chlorine, salt water can strip your hair and dry out your scalp. It’s crucial to always rinse after a dip, even if you can’t do it right away. Making sure to scrub your scalp is important to prevent salty build-up that can cause dryness and dandruff.

Leonor Greyl Huile de Leonor Greyl Shampoo Treatment

This pre-wash shampoo treatment locks in healthy oils so you can rinse out all the bad without stripping away the good stuff. The result is softer, stronger hair with every rinse.

  • At a glance: A nourishing pre-shampoo oil
  • Key Ingredients: Jojoba oil, coconut oil, sesame seed oil, sunflower seed oil

Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum

Detox your scalp with this powerful serum. Its blend of AHAs and BHAs sweeps away build-up on and under the surface of your scalp, while rose clay removes impurities and niacinamide strengthens and promotes growth. Just rinse and repeat.

  • At a glance: A rinse-off scalp serum to clear away buildup
  • Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, niacinamide, rose clay

Nuele Dry Shampoo

If you can’t rinse your hair immediately after a dip, try a powder-based dry shampoo. This refreshing formula leaves no residue and deeply cleans your strands. Bonus: it provides lightweight volume while aloe prevents dryness.

  • At a glance: A clean, non-aerosol dry shampoo
  • Key Ingredients: Bentonite clay, rice starch, aloe
Image by Belathée Photography


Summer is the best time to embrace your natural hair color. Which is to say: you should probably avoid over-coloring this time of year. Heat and sun exposure are known to fade salon-treated and natural color. But color-treated hair already goes through so much, making it more prone to breakage and dryness. Try products that make your color last longer before heading to the salon in the fall. Or if you like the sun-lightened highlights in your hair, some products can enhance those while helping heal the breakage.

Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask

Made in different shades, this color-enhancing mask deeply nourishes your hair and enriches your hair color. Its vitamin and antioxidant-rich ingredients minimize porosity, hydrate your strands, reverse oxidation, and evenly distribute hair color to preserve natural and salon coloring.

  • At a glance: A color-enhancing hair mask
  • Key Ingredients: Almond butter, buriti oil, apricot oil

Briogeo’s Color Me Brilliant Mushroom + Bamboo Color Protect Shampoo

Using natural ingredients, this shampoo keeps your color vibrant to extend the time between color treatments, giving you more luscious, radiant locks.

  • At a glance: A color-protecting shampoo
  • Key Ingredients: Mushroom, bamboo

Sachajuan Color Protect Conditioner

Meet the perfect summer conditioner to protect your hair color from UV damage. It’s made with Sachajuan’s signature softening Ocean Silk Technology and fortified with UV-fighting antioxidants.

  • At a glance: A softening, clearing, and color-protecting conditioner
  • Key Ingredients: Castor oil, lactic acid
Image by Michelle Nash

Not Switching Out Your Products

What works in the winter might not work in the summer. Your hair changes with the seasons, so your routine should, too. Using the wrong products can compound the damage to your hair. And failing to add the right ones to your routine is a missed opportunity for simple preventative measures. In the summer, look for lightweight, clearing formulas that keep your hair strong and shiny with minimal effort.

RANAVAT Glossing Hair Masque

This Ayurvedic hair care brand uses natural ingredients and traditional South Asian remedies to keep hair of all textures glossy and soft. This reparative mask revives and refreshes damaged hair in five minutes. And it’s clinically proven to make hair stronger and shinier.

  • At a glance: A replenishing five-minute hair mask
  • Key Ingredients: Transparent henna, hyaluronic acid, moringa seed oils

NUORI Shield Conditioner

Soothe your scalp and soften your strands with this lightweight conditioner. Its blend of natural ingredients shields your hair and scalp from environmental damage while detangling, softening, and strengthening your hair’s natural barrier.

  • At a glance: A nourishing and protective universal conditioner
  • Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, aloe vera, shea butter, jojoba oil

R+Co SUN CATCHER Power C Boosting Leave-In Conditioner

A leave-in conditioner is one of my favorite products to keep my hair healthy on the go—and this one is built for summer. It mends environmental damage with skin-favorite ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. It also styles and seals for frizz-free, healthy hair.

  • At a glance: A protective leave-in conditioner and styling treatment
  • Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, collagen