Caring for camp curls.

The end of the school year signals the beginning of summer camp season for kids. But those weeks of fun in the sun can also mean sweltering heat, high humidity, pesky bugs and cramped quarters.

Ah, the frizz of it all!

“They’re out there in the elements, and they want their hair to be easy to manage and look good,” says Inga Tritt, founder of The Original Little Sprout hair and skin care line for children.

The key is to keep it simple and fun with the right products and styling tips for the great outdoors. “I hesitate to ask a child to do too many steps for their hair because it may feel overwhelming, and then they won’t get anything done,” warns Cozy Friedman, owner of New York’s Cozy’s Cuts for Kids.

The first step, even before you think about packing, is a getting a great curly cut that can last through the first weeks of the steamy summer.

“Boys get a much shorter haircut – like almost a buzz on the sides and then maybe finger length on the top- so they don’t get hot,” says Kenneth Blain, owner of Kids Super Salon in Huntersville, N.C., who suggests leaving enough length for ponytails on girls.

Now, it’s time to pack. Curl experts share the essentials of a camp survival kit to ensure your tykes can easily transition their tresses for a busy summer.

Essential #1: CLEANSER

If your curly is headed to sleep-away camp, consider packing products with multiple uses.

“What’s great to bring to camp are 2-in-1 shampoos because they are both a shampoo and a conditioner,” says Friedman, whose So Cozy product line includes So Cozy Tropical Fruit 2-in-1 Shampoo.

Tritt also suggests The Original Little Sprout Two in One Baby Hair & Body Wash.

“You can use it all over if the child’s skin is dry or sensitive, if they’re prone to eczema and if they have curly or dry hair,” she says.

Curl guru Lorraine Massey, founder of Devachan Salon in New York and the DevaCurl product line, suggests sending young curlies to camp with her No-Poo.

“No-Poo will absolutely help with their tangles, since they’re in and out of chlorine and lakes,” Massey says. “It can also be used as a body cleanse to keep it simple.”

There are also shampoos specifically created for swimmers.

“They should use a swimmers’ shampoo every night when they bathe because it really does take out the chemicals and makes a tremendous difference,” Friedman says.

Risa Barash, founder of Fairy Tales hair care for children, recommends a clarifying shampoo that contains fruit enzymes and citrus extracts to help remove the chlorine, sea salt and minerals, such as Fairy Tales Lifeguard Clarifying Shampoo.


Aside from chlorine, another challenge for kids at camp is head lice and other pesky critters. Curl experts suggest trying a natural solution to help blast the bugs, including So Cozy’s BOO! lice repel line and Fairy Tales’ Rosemary Repel haircare products.

“Kids may be on nature walks, and the Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Leave-In Conditioning Spray will help repel lice and insects,” Blain says.

Barash recommends shampooing every few days with the Rosemary Repel Shampoo and using the spray— which contains citronella, rosemary, tea tree oil and lemongrass— every morning on the hair and on the body as a bug spray.

Friedman’s BOO! line includes a shampoo, conditioner and leave-in spray, containing tea tree, rosemary and lavender oils.

“Lice is a big deal in the summer and it can spread so quickly in camps because they’re sharing so much equipment,” Friedman says. “With our Boo! leave-in conditioner spray, you can spray it on the child’s hair before they get on the camp bus or before you drop them off.”

You should also remind young curlies not to share hats or hooded sweatshirts, and always use their own towels and blankets, suggests Friedman. “A little education goes a long way,” she says.

For more tips, check out our CurlyKids article on lice.

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