Every summer, curlies have a love/hate relationship with the weather.
Warmer temperatures mean sandals, sundresses and trips to the beach. But the hot weather also comes with frizz-inducing humidity, damaging chlorine and color-fading UV rays.
Summer doesn't have to mean out-of-control curls and kinks. There are some steps you can take to keep your hair looking good throughout summer.
Humidity actually can work to your benefit if you know how to take advantage of it. Those who want to wear their curly will have more curl. The biggest challenge is keeping those curls while controlling volume and preventing frizz.
"I think the haircut is the most important thing," says Canadian stylist Jason Kearns, who owns Kearns-Davidson Salon & Skincare Spa in Toronto.
Find a style that works with your natural texture rather than fighting it. If you've been getting regular blowouts, it may be time to get a style that plays up your curls.
"It's so much easier to work with what your hair does naturally," says Keith Register, regional educational director for Toni & Guy.
Make sure you get regular trims: six to eight weeks for short hair and eight to 10 weeks for longer hair. That will help maintain the curls and eliminate frizzy, dry ends.
More than any other time of year, proper maintenance is crucial to keeping your locks looking their best.
"You need to make sure you're using the right shampoos and conditioners," Register says.
Make sure not to shampoo more than once or twice a week, and use a moisturizing shampoo that's low in detergent.
If you swim a lot, make sure to rinse your hair with water before taking a dip, and put a little leave-in conditioner on it. This helps prevent the hair from absorbing the damaging chlorine. If you can bear it, wear a bathing cap. Periodically, use a shampoo designed to remove chlorine and mineral buildup.
"Keep a leave-in conditioner in your beach bag so that you can spray some on immediately after you rinse it out," says Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue, a New York salon specializing in curly hair.
Moisture is essential throughout the summer months. Remember that a wet sponge doesn't absorb water, and humidity is nothing more than moisture in the air.
Deep condition on a weekly basis to restore moisture to sun-parched curls. If you're not currently using a leave-in conditioner, add it to your daily regimen. In addition to locking in moisture, it can be a powerful frizz deterrent. Many contain UV protection as an added bonus.
The proper styling products can make a big difference in the summer, preventing curls from turning into frizz. Defining creams, mousses and gels all are good options during the summer, depending on your hair type. Gels and mousses work best with wavier, finer hair while styling creams and butters are a good option for coarser, kinkier textures. Keep a good frizz definer or pomade in your bag.
Apply styling products when the hair is soaking wet, making sure to coat all of the hair. Christo divides the hair into three sections, and distributes the product first to the back, then to the sides, and finally to the top layer.
"That insures that every hair receives the benefit of the product," Christo says.
Jonathan Torch of Curly Hair Solutions and the Curly Hair Institute in Toronto suggests bending over with your hair hanging down when you apply the styling product. With some "squishing," it helps create more defined ringlets with a deeper "S" formation.
Allow your hair to dry without touching it. You can blot it with a micro-fiber towel, which removes excess moisture without roughing up the cuticle.
"Remember the cardinal rule of curly hair: The more you play with your curls, the bigger your hairstyle expands," says Torch.
When the surface is dry, you can finish by using a blow-dryer with a diffuser. You can always reactivate your curls by wetting your hands and running them through your hair. To keep the curls looking good, finish off by putting a dab of pomade in your hands, rubbing them together and then running them through your hair, from the crown to the ends. If you develop a fuzzy halo throughout the day, repeat the process, focusing on the hairline.
When it comes to color, reds can be more challenging in hot weather because they tend to fade quickly. And remember that the lighter you go, the drier your hair will feel. Use sun protectors when you're outside, whether it be a styling product with UV protection or a hat.
If you find yourself on the losing end of humidity, there are some fun styles that can keep your curls looking good. Christo suggests braids or a fun part, such as diagonal or zig zag. Always keep a barrette, hair pins and fun clips in your purse as a Plan B.
"With a few pins, you can whip it off your neck," Kearns says.
Tips to Care for Your Hair in the Summer
1. At the beginning of the summer, make a trip to the salon to remove split ends. Be religious about trims throughout the summer.
2. Wear a hat or scarf at the beach or pool.
3. If you normally use a blow-dryer or flat iron, give your hair a break during the summer months. Consider letting your hair air dry.
4. Avoid products that contain alcohol or formaldehyde, which can dry out hair.
5. Wash your hair less during the summer months. Instead, wet and condition.
6. If you find yourself without a hat at the beach, comb a little sunscreen through your hair.
7. Deep condition at least once every other week.