As we move into spring and summer — our favorite seasons for fun outdoor activities — we face challenges with our curly hair that are unique to the climate and activities.
There’s no denying that the change in seasons can be tough on our hair care routines. Products and processes that were working so well suddenly seem to have the opposite effect. Often, at the heart of these issues is a change in the environmental moisture content (humidity). High humidity is especially harsh on curly hair.
The reason for its susceptibility to humidity fluctuations lies in the physical structure of curly hair. Straight hair, undamaged by environmental or treatment factors, has a protective outer layer of cuticle scales that overlap and lie fairly flat against one another. Curly hair, even in very good condition, is much more porous because those cuticle scales do not always lie flat. This porosity allows more water to migrate out of curly hair into the environment in dry weather (not good), and also allows more moisture from the environment to migrate into the cortex of the hair strands in humid weather (also not good).
Read on for tips and ingredient recommendations>>>
Absorption of water into the hair from the environment works to disrupt hydrogen bonds between adjacent hairs, which can diminish curl clumping and definition and lead to flyaway hair and a frizzy appearance. This absorption of moisture can also cause the hair shaft to swell and ruffle up the cuticles a bit, which can lead to tangling, an unpleasant overall texture, and more frizz. Hair strands swollen with water, and with ruffled cuticles because of water absorption, are also more delicate, and can more easily be damaged or broken.
The process also occurs to a greater extent if the hair needs hydration. For this reason, it is very important to maintain hair in the best condition possible at all times, but especially in warm and humid weather. In warm, wet weather, keep your hair very well-moisturized and use a good leave-in conditioner, but try to avoid using products that include humectants (glycerin) in their ingredients, as these can aggravate problems with humidity-induced frizz. Styling gels seem to perform better in this type of weather than mousse. The polymer styling agents in gels form a nice protective film around the hair, which helps maintain the style throughout the day.
Curly hair tips for lovely summer locks:
- Trim hair regularly
- Avoid using thermal drying and styling techniques
- Gently finger comb or use a wide-toothed comb on wet hair that is saturated with conditioner
- Be selective about chemical treatments on the hair — minimize the frequency of such processes
- Avoid frequent exposure to direct sunlight — wear a hat or use a leave-in product containing sunscreens for the hair
- Use generous amounts of moisturizing products, both in the shower and as leave-in treatments. (This reduces diffusion of moisture into and out of the hair)
- Consider using a low-viscosity, easily spreadable hair gel as your primary styling agent for the summer