If your Pinterest board is filled with global destinations that have elements of both adventure and relaxation, an Icelandic vacation might be in your future. If not for the picturesque scenery of volcanos, geysers, and glaciers (what Instagram dreams are made of), then, at least, for the tranquil hot springs of the Blue Lagoon.
But before you jump on a one-way flight, or into the actual water, you need to know about a beauty-hazard that could make your hair a matted, tangled mess — or worse, actually cause it to break off.
It all comes down to silica, the active ingredient in the geothermal seawater that gives it its pretty blue colour and makes for a skin-softening mud mask. But, it's not all good news — at least for hair. Scandinavian-based hairstylist Nicci Welsh warns that when your hair absorbs the minerals in the water, it often becomes dry, tangled, and difficult to manage. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner adds: “Similar to the way that hard water may be damaging to hair, minerals such as calcium and magnesium in hot springs can lead to dryness of the hair."
Recent visitors know this firsthand. "I have naturally straight and tangle-free hair, but after a few hours in the Blue Lagoon, my hair was like a matted rats' nest," says Bekah Zacharias, a data management coordinator in Washington D.C. "I had to wash and condition at least six times before I could get a brush to go through my hair again. Even after that, my hair was so dry that it took a while to go back to normal."
On top of that, those with chemically coloured hair should take even more caution in the Lagoon, since the mineral water can completely strip out the hair colour, says Welsh.
But you can still enjoy a swim without the embarrassment of wearing a shower cap on your head. Welsh advises completely wetting your hair and slathering it with leave-in conditioner before you get into the water. (Many hot springs locations provide conditioner.) "Hair that is already wet will absorb less of the water when you are in the spring," she explains. When you get out, she suggests washing your hair a few times with a clarifying shampoo to make sure all the minerals are rinsed out, then applying a deep conditioning treatment mask, like Oribe's Signature Moisture Mask (Welsh is an ambassador for the brand).
But, not everyone hates the drying effects of the silica-infused water. Refinery29 senior fashion writer Connie Wang (featured above) actually preferred what it did for her hair. “My hair is in-between curly and straight, textured and smooth, and I spend most of the time trying to get it to pick a side," she says. "A dip in the Blue Lagoon actually gave me my version of dream hair. It was voluminous, but the curls were still defined — and since I don't really brush it or put it in tight ponytails, the breakage was minimal.”
Our verdict: Those with coarse, textured, fine, dry, damaged, or colour-treated hair should follow the pro's prescribed protection tips. If you're craving texture, proceed with caution (or maybe just try picking up a salt spray or shampoo instead of dunking your head). As tempting as that perfect Blue Lagoon floating photo might be, it's just not worth it for the 'gram.