How to ditch frizz and keep curly hair happy all summer long


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Photo: Getty/ Nyimas Laula

For girls with curls, summertime can be a frizzy affair. Just one step into the balmy, thick air and spirals can instantly grow in all directions. So when the great outdoors call with healthy barbecues, stargazing adventures, or—let’s be honest—just your morning stroll to the subway platform, it pays to set up your ringlets to stand up to steamy temps.

“Summer can be a very deceiving season when it comes to our hair-care routine because we may feel inclined to push off a cut or trim and maybe even use fewer hot tools,” says Ursula Stephen, a superstar hairstylist who’s impressive clientele includes Rihanna, Kerry Washington, and Rita Ora. “These things are great, but activities like sweating, swimming, and spending extended periods of time in the sun that can take a toll on our strands.” Below, she and hairstylist Ashley Rubell share every summer tip you need to make it through the hottest months, bounce in tact.

curly hair summer
Photo: Stocksy/Karma Images

Before taking a dip in the pool or ocean: Spray in leave-in conditioner and frizz-preventing spray

While a crystal blue pool might look good enough to dive right in, Rubell says to take a beat to care for your hair first (and slather on some sunblock while you’re at it). She recommends taking a two-pronged approach to pre-habbing before executing the perfect cannonball. First, spritz in a leave-in conditioner spray: “It’s a lightweight moisturizer that really locks your curls together and prevents your hair from getting puffy,” explains Rubell, adding that her favorite is Wella Elements Leave In Conditioner ($12).  To protect your hair against harmful UV rays and other free radicals, she recommends misting it with yet another layer of Davines OI all in one milk ($40).

If you don’t have any fancy shmancy products on hand though, Stephen says a nice glob of coconut oil will also create a protective layer over the hair to keep damage from salts and chlorine at a minimum. And instead of going full-mermaid and letting your lengths spool out behind your as you swim, she recommends tying it up in a bun, braid, or pony to keep the tangles and knots to a minimum.

After toweling off: Skip the hairbrush and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

“If you have coarser density—meaning your strands are a bit thicker and maybe don’t tangle as easily as finer hair would—I would avoid using a hairbrush,” says Rubell. “You can comb through lightly with your fingers.” To rid you hair of any excess water, she advises grabbing microfiber towel or jersey t-shirt rather than your beach towel. Then, gently scrunch the water out of your hair, rather than yanking it through a towel. “You want the fibers to absorb the excess water gently without adding any additional damage or frizz,” she explains.

curly hair summer
Photo: Stocksy/Maja Topcagic

While you’re in the shower: Skip the shampoo, rinse, repeat regimen in favor of co-washing

Co-washing or “conditioner-only washing” is exactly what your hair craves throughout the stifling months, according to Stephen. “This is a good and fast way to add moisture to your curls without having to go through a full wash routine,” she says. (Meaning, you spend less time shampooing and more time at the beach). While your normal conditioner will work well (especially if it contains avocado or coconut oil), this hair expert says she swears by Love Beauty & Planet Shea Butter & Sandalwood Purposeful Hydration Gentle Cleansing Conditioner ($7).  More of a mask kind of gal? According to Stephen, stock up on any that feature aloe vera or coconut milk.

For rinsing purposes you might consider installing a shower head that’s designed to remove chlorine, minerals, and metals that could strip your gorgeous ringlets, according Rubell, because those heavy metals can latch onto hair and dry it out even more.

Allll summer long: Hydrate your head *just* like you hydrate your body

“During any time of year, my number one rule for curly hair is hydrate, hydrate, hydrate,” says Rubell. According to the stylist, your skin’s not the only thing that suffers from too much sun: Your spirals are at risk as well. “Especially if you color your hair or have any chemical processes done, the sun’s rays can cause discoloration, frizz, or worsen any brittleness,” she says.

If frizziness creeps in later in the day, Stephen advises carrying a moisturizing spray bottle that’s ready for spritzing should a hair-emergency arise. To create one, “mix one part conditioner two parts water in a spray bottle and shake it up. You can add more water to make the solution even lighter,” she advises.

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