Summer Hair Care Tips for Afro-Textured & Curly Hair
Voluminous, bold and beautiful, curly hair truly is an asset worth showing off. However, this notoriously high-maintenance hair type can become positively unruly come summer. Whilst the air may be feeling heavy with moisture, curly or afro-textured hair can become dry, flat and frizzy in the midst of a heatwave. Luckily, you can enjoy healthy, frizz-free hair all summer long with our curly hair care tips. For straight or wavy-haired ladies, our 10 tips for banishing frizz will help to keep your locks smooth and shiny too.
Why does curly hair dry out in summer?
Curly hair is particularly prone to drying out, regardless of the season. The natural oils produced by the scalp can’t travel down the hair shaft as easily as they do on straight hair; these natural oils moisturise the hair that’s furthest from the roots, keeping the lengths and tips hydrated. Hot weather poses a greater risk to the hair though, so proper maintenance is essential during summer (particularly if you’ve got curly hair).
Overexposure to the sun can actually threaten the structural integrity of the hair. The sun’s UV rays are known to break down protein, and given that between 80-90% of human hair is made up of protein (with the remainder being made up of moisture), it’s not surprising that summer can wreak havoc on our tresses. As these proteins are broken down, the outermost part of the hair shaft (the cuticle) weakens – causing the hair strands to become more porous. Porosity affects how much moisture your hair retains; hair that’s too porous will readily gain and lose water to the air around it, which leads to frizz in humid weather.
Protect your hair from the sun
Just like your skin, your hair and scalp need protecting from the sun’s harmful UV rays. In fact, a recent study revealed it to be the most common cause of hair damage during summer. Shield your hair from the sun when you’re out and about by doing the following:
- Cover your hair with a hat or headscarf. A silk scarf has the added benefit of maintaining hair health and moisture (as does sleeping on a silk pillowcase). Unlike cotton – which also absorbs moisture – silk doesn’t cause friction, so there’s less chance of breakage. What we’re saying is: live your best life and feel free to splurge on some silk scarves (and maybe a few silk pillowcases while you’re at it!).
- Use a UV protection spray on your hair. SPF sprays are a bit like sunblock for the hair and scalp, preventing damage and offering protection from the sun’s UV rays. As such, curly-haired ladies shouldn’t be without a leave-in SPF spray come summer (although all hair types are going to benefit from a spritz of the stuff).
Deep-condition your hair
Hydration is the key to killer curls and healthy hair in hot weather, and locking in moisture is critical if you want to prevent breakage and banish frizz.
Over the summer months, treat your curls with a deep conditioner to hydrate, nourish and strengthen it. If you’re going on holiday, don’t forget to pack a deep conditioning treatment too; a protein-rich treatment will prevent your hair from becoming damaged by the sun, salt and chlorine that its likely to encounter whilst you’re away. Investing in a salon-quality treatment ahead of your departure will help to protect your hair too.
In high heat and humidity, use an anti-humectant (or moisture blocking) product to keep frizz at bay. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to be using something that prevents moisture from reaching your curls, you actually need to seal moisture within the hair itself, so that it doesn’t lose (or draw) water from the atmosphere. Be wary of applying too much though; excessive use will only dry your hair out (especially in low-level humidity). Shea butter, coconut oil and olive oil are natural anti-humectants that you can apply if the dew point is higher than normal.
Seal the ends of your hair
Sealing the hair after shampooing, when it’s wet or after you’ve applied a water-based product will trap moisture within the hair shaft – leaving it properly hydrated. You can seal hair with a serum, a vegetable oil (like coconut, olive or argan oil) or a natural butter (such as shea or cocoa butter).
Vegetable oils are especially good for sealing cuticle layers; they’re also known to penetrate the hair shaft and support its inner structure. Applying a natural oil to the hair seals and protects it from the damaging effects of everyday styling, chemical treatments and the environment.
During summer, sealing the tips of your hair will help to prevent breakage; you shouldn’t need to apply oil to your roots, since the scalp produces sebum naturally. Too much oil can leave your hair looking greasy too, so don’t slather it on with wild abandon; a little goes a long way – especially if regularly applied.
Stave off the shampoo
How regularly people need to wash their hair usually depends on their hair type and texture; generally speaking, curly hair doesn’t need washing nearly so much as fine, straight hair, because the sebum (or natural oils) tend to stay near the roots – as we mentioned before, this is also why curly hair can become dry.
The damaging effects of over-shampooing are well-documented, and in fact those with curly hair usually don’t need to wash it more than once a week (or less in some cases). You should always use a sulfate-free shampoo, since the key ingredient in most traditional shampoos (sodium lauryl sulfate) is way too harsh on most curls.
Co-washing (which skips out shampooing altogether) is an effective way to keep curly hair both cleansed and hydrated. Co-wash formulas are made with just water and cleanser (or conditioner), and they allow you to refresh the hair without drying it out.
Limit blow-drying (and turn down the heat!)
Using too much heat on your hair alters the proteins that give curls their spiral shape, which makes them appear limp over time. Limit blow-drying to twice a week at the most – better yet, avoid blow-drying altogether! Using a wide-toothed comb, gently run a daily leave-in product through the hair and let it air-dry naturally to achieve perfectly defined curls with plenty of bounce.
If you do need to use your hair dryer (because turning up with wet hair just isn’t the way to impress your new boss/date/mother-in-law), you should always mist over the hair with a heat protection spray first and then dry with a diffuser.