Something wicked comes this way.

Summer, the most blazing season of 'em all.

Be sure to look up.

Not at the sun, silly; at your hair. Is it ready?

If not, you'd better start prepping, primping, conditioning, cutting and shopping for goop, say beauty experts.

Ironically, hair's evolutionary purpose is to prevent heat loss. In the coming days, we won't be able to get it away from us fast enough (ponytail holder, stat!).

Another irony: Fun in the sun can mean misery for the mane. The worst offenders: chlorine, which chokes the hair shaft and can turn tresses literally green; sea water, whose salt and minerals sap natural oils; and massive humidity, responsible for endless frizz fests.

Here's some advice on making sure your hair stays content from Vincent J, owner of Vincent J salon:

– Before going out into the inferno, shampoo and follow with a leave-in conditioner containing heavy duty hydrators like avocado oil or shea butter.

–To counteract the effects of chlorine, apply a mixture of one part distilled white vinegar to 10 parts water while in the shower, then washing out.

– “Don't use the same products you use year-round. Look for protective agents such as silicone in the ingredients,” he says, adding that you should steer clear of brands with alcohol.

–Take a plunge in tap water before swimming. Dry hair soaks up more salt and pool water than already-wet hair.

–Get a trim so you won't have to contend with split ends on top of everything else.

–Put the idea of hair-wrecking highlights on the back burner and head to the supermarket instead:

“Fresh lemons work wonders for blondes looking for the sun-kissed glow,” he says. “It's a tried and true shortcut.” For gals with dirty blond to light brown hair, boil up a pot of chamomile tea and pour it on throughout your day by the shore. For all those brunettes trying for henna-esque highlights, rinse with beet juice after shampooing. To get even darker, brew up some black coffee.

© 2006, The Miami Herald.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.