How to take care of natural and afro hair during the summer

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As the summer months approach, those of us with curly, kinky, frizzy, and afro hair — from a looser Type 3A curl to a tighter 4C curl — face the same conundrum: how to keep your hair healthy and hydrated when it’s hot and humid.

“Frizzy hair is extremely sensitive to humidity and dry environments and with the summer months it faces issues such as falling flat, looking dull and getting a bit frizzy,” says Sam McKnight, hairstylist and founder of Hair by Sam McKnight, at POPSUGAR. .

The reason for this is scientific, because hotter, heavier temperatures actually alter hair follicles (as they do with any hair texture). “At the molecular level, moisture in the air swells and disrupts the cuticle (the outer layer of a hair strand) which would typically result in smooth, shiny locks,” McKnight said. “Dry heat, on the other hand, draws moisture out of the hair and reduces its ability to retain it, resulting in dull, frizzy and dry hair. This is also why you may notice your curls or coils becoming less springy during the summer months. “The reason we can experience a loss of definition is that humidity wreaks havoc with hair texture by lifting the cuticle,” said textured hair specialist Errol Douglas, MBE.

Without a strong, reinforced cuticle, hair is also less likely to withstand environmental stress and, as a result, becomes dry and brittle. “A lack of humidity can also be caused by UV rays, which dry out the hair and take away the color; while the lack of volume is because when we sweat more, the sweat dampens the hair, making it look greasy and flat,” Douglas added. To keep natural hair textures hydrated, strong, and shiny during the summer months, we asked Douglas, McKnight, and other industry-leading hair experts to share their tips and tricks. tricks.

Protect your frizzy and curly hair

“It’s all about prevention and protection — like you would your skin, cover and protect your hair in the sun,” McKnight said. “UV rays oxidize melanin particles in the hair shaft cortex, causing discoloration; they also damage the cuticle and cortex, leading to dry, brittle and dull hair and thus promoting breakage over time. »

“The number one way to protect your hair in the summer is to wear protective hairstyles like cornrows, braids or double-strand twists, which will help minimize frizz and keep curly/frizzy hair nourished,” the hairstylist recommended. Dionne Smith.

If you prefer to wear your buckles and springs naturally, it’s important to have the right accessories and products on hand. “On hot days, cover your hair with a floppy sun hat or scarf to minimize the harmful effects of the sun,” Smith said, while Douglas recommended combining a leave-in conditioner with a heat protectant and spreading it around. in the hair. “It’s a great way to add conditioning properties to rehydrate your hair while protecting it from heat,” he says.

Keep your natural hair hydrated

Just because it’s hot and humid doesn’t mean you have to stop moisturizing your hair. “Natural hair needs moisture at the best of times, and especially in the warmer months, to protect it from the damaging effects of the sun,” Smith said. Additionally, McKnight says, “Well-hydrated hair will prevent excessive moisture absorption in humid climates and vice versa – in dry climates it will lose less moisture. “All the hairdressers we spoke to stressed the importance of continuing to use products with high levels of hydration and anti-frizz properties, such as hair butters and hair creams, throughout the summer,” to ensure that your hair receives a healthy dose of moisture on a regular basis. “said Smith.

Leave-in conditioners are a particularly useful product to use and have on hand during the summer months. “Protect your curls and coils by applying a lightweight leave-in conditioner that you can spray directly on to keep parched hair nourished — Cantu Coil Calm Detangler ($5) is a great option for this,” Smith says; or, as Douglas mentioned above, you can mix it with a heat protectant when you’re outside in the scorching sun.

Protect your natural hair when swimming

“These days, you can buy products that you can apply before swimming to protect your hair from chlorine, like the Philip Kingsley Swimcap Mask ($30),” Smith said. “This product filters the sun’s rays and offers water resistance and protection against drying out caused by chlorine and salt water. When you go swimming this summer, also be sure to wear a swimming cap before diving in and follow up with a shampoo after swimming. and conditioner to remove all chemicals from your hair and minimize the risk of damage. »

How to moisturize frizzy hair

“If there are ingredients you should avoid in products, avoid mineral oil and petroleum,” Charlotte Mensah, hairstylist and founder of Hair Lounge in London, told POPSUGAR. “These ingredients can cause an imbalance in oil levels, coating your hair and scalp so effectively that it chokes them. Instead, look for products that are paraben-free and also contain UV filters, vitamins, and antioxidants to protect your hair from the sun’s UV rays, which can damage your hair’s protein structure. »

The same goes for silicones, according to Douglas. “Most products use silicones to help smooth out frizz by leaving a hydrophobic coating on the surface of the hair. But most silicones have a high molecular weight and can feel heavy,” he said. “That means it’s going to feel dirty faster and cause you to wash and style your hair more frequently, which in turn causes more hair damage and frizz.” Instead, look for products that contain oils and butters, such as castor and jojoba oils and shea butter.

You can prevent hair shrinkage

When trying to avoid shrinkage, Mensah recommends setting your hair. “Roller, straws, and perm rods are all methods you can use to stretch your creases, and you can either air-dry or sit under a hooded dryer for straighter results,” a she declared.

How often should natural hair be washed in the summer?

One of the best ways to keep your hair in good condition during the hot summer months is to not over wash it. “For those with curly hair, over-washing can cause dryness, chafing and damage, which makes hair even more fragile,” Mensah said. “Curly hair is naturally more delicate than straight hair, so you’ll also want to minimize constant brushing to avoid causing unnecessary damage. »

Smith suggests trying to wash your hair every seven to 10 days. “Your hair needs hydration and will benefit greatly from a deep cleanse followed by treatment to restore the hair’s natural balance. In fact, you can also keep a bottle of spritz water handy and spray it directly on your hair regularly. base,” she said.

Detangle your natural hair while it’s damp

This is advice you should keep in mind throughout the year. “Textured hair is more prone to breakage due to its coils and curls, which tangle more easily, leading to breakage when combing and/or brushing,” McKnight said. “Internal fractures can occur when the hair is not twisted or stretched, resulting in brittle strands. Try not to brush textured hair when dry, but comb/brush it when wet with a wide tooth comb or detangling brush and be gentle. Afro picks and combs with wide and long teeth work great. »

Take care of your scalp

“Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp,” Douglas said. “A healthy scalp has clean, open pores with good blood circulation. It is essential that the hair follicles and the scalp are clean and clear and that the microbiome is in harmony with a good bacterial balance. » Depending on the health of your scalp, introducing a scalp treatment into your washing routine every 7-10 days will help reduce product buildup.

Make treatments for your natural hair a priority

Whether you’re hitting the salon for a treatment or prefer to DIY at home, hairstylist Luke Hersheson recommends getting deep hydrating or restorative hair treatments once a month. “You want to focus on moisturizing the hair, so it’s important to use masks and oils, like coconut oil, that penetrate the hair shaft for long-lasting results,” he said. -he declares. “Everyone has a different starting point when it comes to their hair, but a general rule in the salon is to go for steam treatments and deep conditioning treatments. You want to focus on moisture and hydration to improve volume and definition. »

Keep reading to find out which products these experts swear by to take care of curly, kinky, frizzy and afro hair textures during the summer months.

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