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The closest I have ever come to a Summer House experience was a weekend at a house on Fire Island, and before the ferry had even brought us ashore, my hair was already the wind-battered, salt-ridden texture of a North Atlantic fisherman’s beard. Needless to say, Lauren Wirkus does not have this problem.
Wirkus is a cast member on Summer House, the Bravo reality TV series that began on an episode of Vanderpump Rules, which itself is a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which is a franchise of the original Real Housewives of Orange County, which exists thanks to the popularity of The OC and Desperate Housewives. This is all to say that Summer House has a long and storied history within the past decade of pop culture.
The premise of Summer House is simple: A bunch of late-20- and early-30-something Manhattanites spend their summer weekends at a house in the Hamptons. They drink, they hook up, they fight, they break up, they drink more, they get back together. But there is one aspect of Summer House that is just as compelling to me as any of those things: the impossibility of a single cast member’s hair.
TV hair may be ubiquitous on scripted series, but rarely on a reality show do we see such commitment to the straight-on-top, curly-on-bottom canon. Every Friday night when Lauren arrives at the summer house, her very long, very thick, and very beach-waved hair looks perfect. Her hair looks perfect on Saturday mornings immediately after waking up from a night of partying. Her hair looks perfect sitting in hot tubs, steam swirling up from the water. Her hair looks perfect on boats, around campfires, and scorching in the sun.
Naturally, I needed to find out whether this was witchcraft or just really expensive hair products. And on a recent phone call with Lauren proves, I learned it’s neither! Below is the full interview, in which we discuss her daily routine, where she gets all those swimsuits, and that one time she was a brunette with bangs(!).
Congrats on a great season! You made it!
Thanks so much. It’s fun to watch everything back, but reliving something again can sometimes be difficult. Sometimes you’re just ready to close that chapter.
On a lighter topic, your hair: It’s awesome.
Thank you! I have always been sort of a hair girl and obsessed with hair.
So you wake up, then what happens?
My hair is naturally pretty oily, so sometimes when I work out or style my hair, it gets even more oily. I’ve had to really train my hair so that I don’t have to wash it every day, because obviously washing it every day can be damaging. Living in New York, the water is really hard on your hair, so I am the biggest proponent of dry shampoo. My favorite brand is actually the drugstore brand; it’s called Batiste. I literally live off that. There’s one in every suitcase I travel with, every bag, because it really is such a lifesaver to extend the life of your hair.
If I’m not washing my hair that day, then I’m dry-shampooing and I’m restyling over the hair. What I actually do is I blow it out again, so I re-blow out; even if I’ve sweated, I’m like, “It’s all right, it’s my own sweat, it can go back into my hair.”
I try to go at least two days between washing my hair, so I wash every third day. I use Pureology Hydrate shampoo and conditioner. I find that it’s really hydrating and makes the color not only last but also keeps it really moist and not dry.
I’m not really into so many products — I use a heat protectant from Pureology as well, called Color Fanatic, which also helps to keep your hair bright. I’ll do a mask maybe one day a week, just an intense conditioner basically. When I come out of the shower, I’ll use a wet detangler brush. I live off those wet brushes.
If I’m blow-drying, I usually let it air-dry halfway through and try not to put heat on it right when it’s soaking. So I’ll let it air-dry for, like, 20 minutes, start my makeup, and then put the blow dryer on it. It also helps with speeding up the dry time.
I normally like to wear my hair wavy, so I use a GHD Soft Curl curling iron in the 1 1/4-inch size — I find that that makes the best beach waves. And my trick to having beachy waves is actually to brush out the curls. I let it set, I let it cool, and then I use a brush from root to end. It helps to keeps the curls together so that it’s less piecey and more wavy.
I do try to get a treatment every once in a while — if it’s been two months, I get a mask treatment or something to make it silky and smooth, but I really just rely on trying not to put too much heat on it on a daily basis to keep it healthy.
How do you deal with it when you’re filming in the summer house?
Because we film all weekend and we’re in and out of the heat and the pool, I try to go in on Friday with fresh hair. If I didn’t have time to wake up and blow out my own hair, I’ll get a blowout somewhere, and that way my hair is good for Friday night and Saturday. Depending on if we go to the pool or a party, I can extend that blowout from the night before.
My trick, though, is I try to not actually get it fully wet, because then you’re spending another hour and a half to get it dry again and it can be frustrating. So my trick is to, like, wear a hat or throw it up in a bun or put a cute headband on and get in the pool without getting it physically all the way wet. And when you go in the pool with blonde hair, if you don’t wet it before, you can get green hair. Or I only get the bottom wet because then at least I can wash it quickly. Doing hair is time-consuming, and when I’m filming or out East, I don’t have time to do that. You just don’t have time to do three blowouts in a weekend.
How long have you had your signature hairstyle?
To be honest, since I was little. My [twin] sister and I, when we were little, we would always want to cut our hair short, and my mom would just not allow us. She was like, “No, you’re gonna regret it.” And I have to say, the one time [my sister] Ashley cut her hair, she bobbed it literally so short and in two days she was so upset. So we always took our mom’s advice. Mom knows best, and as much as we want to change it up, [we] just get a trim, because we’re really lucky that we’ve been blessed with thick, long, blonde hair.
Do you have extensions?
Not until recently. I did put some extensions in, but more for fullness. My hair’s really long, so it’s more for fullness over time since I’ve gotten older and am losing hair naturally. But I will say that having extensions while filming is a lifesaver. When hair is not in your head, it actually holds a curl way longer, so I can extend the life of my blowout even longer having some extra added fullness in the back. I can literally go even longer than I normally would because I can just wash the top of my head and these extension pieces aren’t getting oily because they’re not actually attached to your head. I had them in season two, but not in season one.
Did having a twin affect the way you did your hair?
That’s so funny, because it does affect your hair, because you always want to be a little bit different. In college, I went full brunette and cut bangs. I just felt we looked so similar and I wanted to try something different. We do style our hair differently. Ashley has a side part and I have a middle part; that is how people can tell us apart, and we’ve always sort of done that. We both like beachy waves, but she likes more of a tighter curl than I do. When you’re an identical twin, you do little things to be distinguished.
Everybody wants to know about your swimsuits. Where do you get them?
Literally, I answer hundreds of DMs a day on this. My sisters and I have natural breasts and they are rather large, and they are very hard to shop for. When you go shopping for bathing suits and you need an extra-large top but not an extra-large bottom, it’s really hard to find suits that fit. My older sister has a swimwear line called Formes and it’s specifically designed for that, so I love her suits. My second favorite right now is a brand called Monday, which goes up to bigger than a double-D cup. I love Seafolly — it’s an Australian brand — and also PilyQ and Red Carter. I have to go online a lot; when you go into a department store, they don’t really have your size. But the struggle is real when going to find a bathing suit for natural breasts, ’cause mine don’t just sit upright; they have to be forced.
Any plans for this summer?
We’re hopeful that we’ll be filming another season, but either way, I have been summering in the Hamptons for seven years, so I’ll be there. All of my friends who aren’t on the show with me already have their houses set up, so if we’re not filming season 3, which we don’t know yet, then I will definitely still be heading to the Hamptons. For Memorial Day I’m hitting up Ibiza, and then usually I try to plan an end-of-summer trip after Labor Day, so I will definitely be hitting the beach, and it will be fun irregardless.