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It’s July and summer’s in full swing! Summer, for me, means being outdoors. This year I’ve been riding my bike more then ever, and the beautiful weather we’re enjoying in the Northeast feels like nature begging me to come outside.

The time I’ve spent on a bike and under the sun make me realize that (gasp!) there are a few things that are more important than hair.

Let me explain. I’m talking about our health, and specifically the way that hats and helmets can help keep us protected. Whether the culprit is sun or concrete, hats and helmets keep us safe in the summer months.

The other day, after a minor bike accident, I asked my father why people put such an emphasis on wearing helmets. After all, if I fall off my bike my hands and knees are the most likely to hit the ground, not my head.

“A head injury can kill you,” he said, “And no one ever died of a broken wrist.” I would know, I’ve had two.

I know a helmet isn’t very conducive to frizz-free curls. Between cycling in the summer and downhill skiing in the winter I wear a helmet quite a bit. When I’m teaching skiing, “helmet head” is one of my more frequent hairstyles.

Unlike our straight haired peers, once our hair gets messy, no brush can detangle it. But while helmets may squash our hairdos, they protect something that’s much more important — our heads. Last year 67,000 people went to the emergency room with head injuries sustained while riding a bike, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.

While I think my curly hair is a reflection of my lively personality, I know that personality might not be the same if I sustained a serious head injury.

While a helmet protects your brain, a hat can actually protect your hair. I noticed how hot my dark hair gets when I’m out in the sun — especially on the crown. Thinking that this can’t be good, I did some research. Dr. John Gray from the P&G Hair Care Research Center writes that ultraviolet light weakens the protein our hair is made of, called keratin. The sun actually breaks down hair at a molecular level! Harsh sunlight also sucks moisture from your hair’s cuticle as well as from your scalp. While there are hair products out there that contain low amounts of SPF, I prefer to pull on a cute summer hat or my Red Socks baseball cap.

In most of my columns I write about tips and tricks for keeping your hair looking its best. I this column, however, I hope I’ve convinced you that you can get the most enjoyment from your fabulous curls if you protect them, along with your head!

Stay Curly,

Julia

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