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READER QUESTION: Now that summer is around the corner, what can I do to prepare my hair now for the hot weather and long weekends at the pool?
Ahhhh, the joys of summer. Memorial Day will be here any minute and I can’t wait for the official start to summer. In the meantime, here are ten tips that will whip your strands into the best shape possible before the official start of summer.
1. Don’t fight nature. Don’t waste your summer prepping for twist-outs and roller sets. If it’s warm and sticky where you are, your efforts will be futile and your twist-out will very quickly become a fro-out. That’s not necessarily bad unless you weren’t expecting to rock one style and end up with another. Instead, opt for a wash-n-gos and other styles that work with your texture.
2. Try more frequent co-washing, not only to rid your scalp of sweat and chlorine from a morning aquatic workout, but also because it feels good! You can co-wash, shake and go and let your mane air dry in the wind.
3. Try protective styling to keep your hair off of your face and neck. I love high messy buns as well as side buns. Rock a funky headband and some cute earrings and you’re chic and ready to go!
4. Invest in hats… lots of hats. Curly hair can be unpredictable, especially in humid conditions and hats are a great accessory. I love summer beanies, but sunhats and caps work too. They have the added benefit of keeping your tresses protected from the elements (wind, sea, sun, etc.).
5. Chill on the heat styling. Instead work with your hair texture and try wash-n-gos, twists, braids and other protective styles.
6. To better understand your curls in the summer, get acquainted with dew points and how it relates to humidity.
7. Hydrate inside and out! You’re supposed to drink your body’s weigh in water (in oz) everyday. Also, water your hair! It’s nature’s perfect moisturizer.
8. I’ve tried many a product that claimed to de-frizz or weather proof my hair. The only ones that work fairly well — which means my hair shrunk to my chin rather than my ears — contain silicones (amodimethicone) and polymers (PVP/VA Copolymer) in the first five ingredients. These ingredients help to create a barrier on your strands, locking moisture from your conditioner in and moisture from the atmosphere out. Ingredients like glycerin swell my highly porous strands and cause immediate reversion, so I avoid it like the plague in high dew point/humidity conditions.
9. Refrigerate your conditioner and leave-in. Crazy, right? Nope! Not only will it feel good going on, it will keep you cool in the hot summer months.
10. Nicole Harmon, a wise cosmetic chemist from Hair Liberty once told me, “Products that contain hydrolyzed protein temporarily patch up some of the cuticle holes in porous hair. If African American hair doesn’t get additional protein regularly, it will frizz out very quickly no matter what you do.” As a result, I now regularly use products that contain hydrolyzed proteins and do find that my humidity fighting products do a better job. Good luck and have an umbrella drink for me!
Nikki Walton, founder of CurlyNikki.com, is a successful psychotherapist and creator of the most credible online source about natural hair care, maintenance and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. She's the author of the book Better Than Good Hair.