Algae-tinged hair was a rite of passage growing up in the suburbs...
Algae-tinged hair was a rite of passage growing up in the suburbs...
Algae-tinged hair was a rite of passage growing up in the suburbs...
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My name is Heidi Zumbrun and I’m an adventure lifestyle photographer with an emphasis on surfing and beach culture (  I’ve spent my life in the water - starting with competitive swimming and dealing with chlorine to surfing and surf photography with constant exposure to salt water. Guess what that means? Never-ending battles with my hair! What started out as natural blonde hair turned into green hair at the pool every summer and now, constant frizz and damage to my bleached blonde hair from the ocean.

As a child, I lived in the suburbs and when I wasn’t at swim practice at the pool, I was in our backyard playing Marco Polo for hours on end. My mom tried everything to keep my hair blonde. Algae-tinged hair was a rite of passage growing up in the suburbs and showed that you were having the best summer, especially if you were on the swim team since it proved you were practicing the most. But around the teenage years, vanity took over and I realized algae-green did not look good on me. I made sure to try anything to avoid this not-so-attractive shade.  

Vinegar, Sun In, bathing caps... there just didn’t seem to be products that helped, so a greenish tint was just my signature hair color until I got to college and decided that dying my hair every other color during art school was one way to combat the problem. We bleached our hair at home to save money since we were starving art students, turning our hair an awful yellow (because we didn’t know how to tone properly). To combat that big mistake, we added Manic Panic bright color dyes to help. Conditioner? Prewash? Nourishing shampoo? Nope, none of that. Just thrash your hair and cut it when it got too damaged - not the perfect equation and always leading to a short pixie cut and never the long hair I imagined for myself being such a California girl. 

Flash forward to now and I’m back in the water (saltwater this time) surfing and photographing surfing, but finally with long blonde hair. I love the beauty of water & I love the calming feeling you get from being in it but this lifestyle makes it hard not to sacrifice the condition of your hair at the same time.

I'm very lucky to say that my job allows me to travel and shoot in other countries, but it often entails that I camp out in obscure locations and am usually unable to rinse my hair properly after a long day of shooting surfing or in a helmet while riding motorcycles, which dries my hair out and causes it to break. From white water rafting/kayaking photography to surf photography, I've constantly been in the sun and surf for years now, which may have sacrificed my hair a bit, but this is a small price to pay for an exciting career.

Growing my hair to its current length meant lots of ponytails and barrettes until my bangs grew out. I really had to take care of my hair during this time especially since it hair went from black to bleached blonde. I try to tie it in a knot instead of a rubber band to avoid breakage and I use Oi oil or coconut oil to keep the frizz down from the salt water. 

Rinsing right when I get out of the ocean is a must and I only wash my hair once a week if possible. I never blow dry and I never use hot irons. Being introduced to products like the AQUIS Water Defense PreWash has been a dream. For the days that I can’t rinse off in between shoots and surf sessions, I rely on it and follow with the Leave-In Conditioner to soften the damage of the ocean until I can get home to shampoo. I’ve noticed my hair is less frizzy and super soft with less brittle ends. Dream come true. Oh, and one more battle with bleached hair? It NEVER dries unless I wrap it up in the AQUIS turban to speed it up. Quick, dry and healthy. It’s a win-win. 

What I’ve learned throughout the years, as in my life in and out of the water, is that your hair reflects your overall health and I like to keep my body and hair as healthy as I can - with clean living and lots of healthy nourishment.

by Heidi Zumbrun 

Photo credits in order of appearance: 

  1. Cover image by Jacqueline Davey
  2. Michael Beck for @unstuckwoman project
  3. photo by my Mom
  4. Heathyr Smyth
  5. Sirena Hartley Caruso
  6. photographer unknown
  7. Jacqueline Davey
  8. Rochelle Mazzola
  9. Zoe Nissman 
  10. Scott Presti
  11. Michael Beck for the @unstuckwoman project
  12. Michael Beck for the @unstuckwoman project