Asking a beauty professional—whether it’s a celebrity hairstylist, makeup artist, or Instagram influencer (hi, 2018)—for advice is always a safe bet. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find there are plenty of other women out there who are legitimate authorities in their own right. In our new column, Unlikely Experts, they’ll give real reviews and recommendations. Whether it’s surfers on the best conditioners, bikers on the best cleansers, or ballerinas on the best foot creams, it’s fair to say these women know best.
Diana Vreeland, a woman with one of the most covetable careers in modern history once admitted, “I’m really only envious of one thing, and that is a surfer. I think it’s the most beautiful thing.” She’s not alone. Of all of the professional fringe benefits available today, surfers have some of the best. Travel; the tranquilizing effects of suspending yourself on a sea-meets-sky horizon; the body-toning results of what amounts to hours of aquatic sprint intervals. Moreover, the equation of salt water plus sun that rounds out most vacation checklists has truly mythic effects on hair. Venus, the original standard of beauty who was born from the sea, is most famously depicted nose-riding a shell in contrapposto, her hair an unruly tangle of waves emphasized by sun-bleached highlights. “People buy salt water spray for their hair—I just go surfing,” says pro surfer Kassia Meador, who, after 22 years in the water, has a fondness for the “epic texture and bounce” and “sweet summer highlights” that accompany her life’s calling.
That being said, maintaining the sweet spot between ocean-sprayed waves and salt-wrecked knots requires thoughtful care. “The salt can be detrimental to your hair, causing it to dry out and making your ends break if you’re not exercising proper maintenance,” says Bahamian surfer Karina Petroni. Which is how surfers have become some of the most studied experts in the art of conditioner. “Just like sunscreen, you need to coat your hair with something to keep it from frying,” says longboarding champion Kelia Moniz. “I’m a freak about putting product in my hair before and after I surf.”