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It’s beachy wave and curl season! Here are some curly hair care tips for keeping your curls looking great during the hot, humid summer months.

Water, Water Everywhere

Sea water and salt spray turn waves to curls and curls to tighter, springier ones. You can buy a sea spray leave-in for $20—or go to the beach and make seawater work for you. Landlocked? Make a salt spray with this recipe from John Masters, owner of John Masters Organics: Dissolve 1 tablespoon sea salt in 8 ounces warm water; add 10 drops lavender oil, shake well, and spritz onto wet or dry hair.

To protect hair from chlorine and give it a pre-pool treat, soak it with tap water before a swim, then slather on conditioner or a little oil. Hair saturated with clean water won’t soak up as much chlorinated pool water. Use a swim cap for extra protection, and never leave chlorinated water in your hair. Sea water should be rinsed out too, as salt can cause dryness over time. Use an oil spray to protect hair from its dehydrating effects.

Need more hydration? If you hair feels and looks dry, use conditioners that contain saccharides and fruit sugars as well as oil-based emulsifiers and softeners like behentrimonium methosulfate. Aloe vera, honey, agave, lactamide MEA, Hydroxypropyltrimonium honey, and simple fruit juices or extracts are all moisture-attracting ingredients. Indulge at least once a week in a deep conditioning treatment. Many good ones don’t require more than 5-10 minutes to work.

Hydrate Inside and Out

Iced coffee and tea, mixed drinks, beer or wine are refreshing but also dehydrating. For every non-water beverage, drink a cool glass of water. Add lemon or cucumber slices for a refreshing taste.

Seal In Moisture

A good part of summer curly hair care is to seal in moisture once you've hydrated your hair. These glazy, syrupy gels are great for minimizing frizz, helping hair retain moisture and enhancing curl patterns—Curl Junkie Curls in a Bottle, Just Great Curls from Canada’s Hair and Skin Essentials, Devacurl AnGel, Ouidad Climate Control, or a moisturizing flaxseed-based gel like Botticelli Botanicals. Continuing the sugary trend, Kinky-Curly Curling Custard and Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic contain moisture-attracting ingredients to help keep dry hair hydrated. Apply gels over your leave-in conditioner to seal in moisture. Leave-ins that contain protein are marvelous for smoothing curls and discouraging frizz.

Nature’s Heat Cap

Use the sun’s warmth to help hair soak up conditioners. After swimming, apply a deep conditioner to protect your hair. Smooth in conditioner or a moisturizer before piling into a bun or twisting, and let the sun shine in!

If your skin can get sunburned, so can your hair. Products like shea butter and sesame oil have natural UV filtering properties. And while many hair products claim to protect hair from the sun, unless they have a SPF rating or contain a known sunscreen ingredient, these could be just marketing claims. If you plan to be out in the sun for more than an hour, the best curly hair care tip is to wear a stylish hat or scarf.

Cool Products

Refrigerate conditioners and stylers for a refreshing wash and wear. It will encourage your cuticle to close and your scalp will love you for giving it a cool shot on a hot day. Use products with a pH that’s more on the acidic side to help cuticles stay closed.

Don’t Sweat It

During the summer months, you may wash your hair more frequently to remove sweat and refresh the scalp. But sweaty doesn’t always mean dirty. A condition wash, or even a thorough water rinse can be enough to rid hair of sweat and impurities before you style. But make sure your hair is clean— build up is one of the main causes of frizz.

Keep It Fresh

No time to rinse after a workout? A fragrant emollient product helps freshen the hair and keep it from drying out between washes. Aquage Illuminating Gellade smoothed over hair adds shine and a protective barrier. For tighter curls, Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia or Karen's Body Beautiful Hair Nectar applied to dry hair can rehydrate even the most parched tresses. Spritz a little water first to help it absorb.

Low Maintenance, High Style

Warm weather is the perfect time to add a colorful flower or sleek accessory to your hair. Check out Goody’s spectacular and low-priced headbands. They more than hold their own against the higher priced designer versions. Or bun hair up in a flash with the revolutionary Goody Spin Pin or a Flexi8.

Fragile When Wet

Binding wet hair into a tight pony is a curly hair care no-no, and can cause split ends in the middle of the hair shaft. Instead, slick wet hair back with conditioner and a little oil or gel. Let it dry loose or use a headband to keep hair off the face. In summer’s hot weather, air drying is quicker than ever, so enjoy your wash and go’s.

Be a Twirly Girl

Or a coily one! Twirls, coils, buns, and twists can enhance texture, emphasize curl and minimize frizz. To twirl or coil the hair, apply styler to clean, conditioned hair, then twirl small sections of hair around fingers. For best results, dry completely under a hood dryer. To loosen and fluff, rub a little pomade or style paste on your hands and gently scrunch hair close to the roots.

Put summer’s hot weather to work pampering your curly tresses. Be at one with Mother Nature, don’t fight the curl, remember to hydrate, and relax and enjoy a laid back summer.

Karen Mcintosh (Suburbanbushbabe in CurlTalk) is grateful to the straight hair gods who ignored her. Share your views with Karen in CurlTalk or her blog

0 Comments
A small correction for #4: hair care products cannot actually have a SPF rating, at least not legally, because there's no way to measure SPF for hair. SPF is, in most countries, a regulated term, and in order to use it, a company has to be able to demonstrate that a product will keep skin from getting sunburned for that many times longer than unprotected skin (i.e. SPF 15 = 15 times longer, etc.). Hair can definitely become sun-damaged over time, but it doesn't show any such obvious and immediate result as a sunburn, so there's no way of measuring SPF for hair. It may be that some sunscreen ingredients do provide some sun protection for hair, but at present there's insufficient research to prove this, due to the difficulties in measuring it. So really, pretty much all claims of specific hair care products providing sun protection are wishful thinking at best, and deceptive marketing at worst. Claiming a specific SPF rating for a hair product is definitely deceptive, and may be illegal in countries where it's a regulated term. There's probably no harm in using hair products that contain ingredients known to protect skin from sun, and it's possible they may help, but it's really not known for certain at this point. The only guaranteed-effective way of protecting your hair from the sun is covering it with a hat or scarf.

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