Well y'all, I don't know what you're thinkin' but personally, I'm totally trippin' that we're just a few weeks away from it officially being the summer season. As I was looking at my hair the other day, I said to myself, "How about we give you some extra special attention this year, so that I don't have to do any damage control come fall?". Because, even though I actually write on hair care quite a bit, sometimes a sistah doesn't feel like being proactive. I'm getting better at it, though.
Anyway, if you are like me and you don't want to be pissed off on Labor Day because, all you did, all summer long, was wrap your hair up in a scarf or rock a turban, only to discover a dry matted mess weeks later, I've got some things that you can do to prep your hair (and maintain it) for the summer season. Don't worry. Everything here is cheap and easy yet super effective.
Are you ready to get your hair into great summer shape?
Make Some Coconut Milk Shampoo
Something that I recommend you try this season is making your own shampoo. Not only is it (typically) cheaper than commercial brands, but you're able to know exactly what is going into your tresses. A recipe that's very easy to make, consists of only three ingredients. All you need is coconut milk, castile soap and your favorite essential oil(s).
Coconut milk is great because the antibacterial properties in it will help to cleanse your scalp while removing any bacteria that may be on it. Coconut milk is also packed with nutrients like protein (our hair is made up of mostly protein), iron (something that many of us, as Black women, tend to be deficient in) and magnesium (it promotes follicle hair growth) that help to strengthen our hair. As a bonus, coconut milk is mad moisturizing too.
Castile soap removes product build-up without stripping your hair of the natural oils that it needs. Essential oils smell great and come with all sorts of benefits, depending on which one you decide to go with. For a fresh and summery scent, I recommend orange oil. It moisturizes your hair, plus it also can smooth your strands so that they look less frizzy too.
For a simple coconut milk shampoo recipe, check out Wellness Mama's here.
Dust Your Ends
If one of the things that you're committed to this year is length retention, I am totally with you. Because of this, you probably want to keep shears as far away from your head as possible. But if you don't at least dust your ends, not only could you end up with split ends that will only result in long-term hair damage, but you could prevent your natural hair from holding any real shape as well. If you don't trust a professional to trim your hair—again, I feel you because some stylists don't know the difference between cutting and trimming—you can always take matters into your own hands. Literally. Dusting your ends is about taking no more than around ½" (on average) off of the ends of your hair. All you need is a good pair of shears, a video tutorial and a lot of patience.
Apply a Leave-in Conditioner
Hopefully, deep conditioning your locks is already a part of your hair routine. But because the sun can be particularly harsh during the summer season, it's important to apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair too. Not only will it add some extra moisture to your hair, it can also make detangling and styling so much easier in between washes (especially if you'd prefer not to wet your hair every day). If you decide to go the commercial brand route, make sure that the first ingredient on the label is water. Or, if you want, you can make some of your own.
Kinky Curly Yaki totally has your back in this department with the article "14 Homemade Leave-In Conditioner Recipes".
Use a DIY Anti-Frizz Serum
When it comes to my natural hair texture, probably the two top things that get on my nerves about summer is 1) the massive amount of shrinkage that it causes and 2) how frizzy my hair can sometimes become. As far as shrinkage goes, we'll tackle that in the next point. On the frizz tip, something that can help to tame your mane is to create your own anti-frizz hair serum. One of the best recipes I've seen in a hot minute consists of avocado oil (it's extremely moisturizing), argan oil (it nourishes your scalp, fights dandruff and helps to prevent brittle ends) and geranium oil (it's antibacterial, balances the production of serum and helps to keep hair strands smooth). If you apply a little to your hair on a daily basis, you'll notice more curls and less frizz.
For the complete anti-frizz serum recipe, click here.
Define Your Curls with Bentonite Clay and Apple Cider Vinegar
Yeah, I already know. There are definitely a billion hair hacks out here. But if there's one that I promise you is pretty close to mind-blowing, it's the bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar hair mask. The benefits of bentonite clay, frankly, deserves a write-up of its own but some of the main point is it's the kind of clay that draws out toxins, helps to heal psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, removes product build-up on the hair and scalp, conditions and moisturizes and definitely brings the best out of your natural curl definition. Know what else it does? It helps to elongate your hair so that shrinkage isn't as much of an issue. As far as apple cider vinegar goes, it's a one of a kind type of hair clarifier. The combo will have your hair feeling mad soft and with bouncy curls that you didn't know you had; whether you've got 3 or 4 type hair.
An easy recipe: Pull out a non-metal bowl (metal can affect the potency of the clay, not in a good way either) and pour 1/3 cup of bentonite clay into it. Then add about four tablespoons of distilled water (maybe a bit more; the objective is for the mixture to have a thick yogurt-like consistency). To that, add four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and maybe some sweet almond oil (to lock extra moisture into your hair). Mix everything with a non-metal spoon and immediately apply the mask to clean and damp hair (make sure your locs are wet enough to show your curl pattern). Apply the mask, cover your head up with a plastic bag and let it sit on your hair for 30 minutes. Then get into the shower to rinse it all out (it's kind of a mess if you go the sink route) and follow it up with your favorite hair conditioner. Allow your hair to air dry and sis, you're totally good to go. (If you want to see some final results, check out this video, this one or this one.)
Invest in Some Anti-Humidity Hair Products
You would think that, since humidity is all about moisture, that it being in the air that it would work for, not against, our hair…right? Yeah, naw.
While it's kind of a science class, the bottom line is our hair is made up of tiny tubes of keratin (protein). What humidity does is manipulate those tubes which causes our hair cuticles to swell, resulting in frizz.
One way you can reduce how much this happens to your own hair is to coat your hair with anti-humidity hair products on a daily basis.
If you'd like to do this, Naturally Curly totally has your back. Check out "20 Humidity-Proof Products to Fight Frizz".
Create Some Sunscreen for Your Locs
Don't get it twisted. We might be full of melanin, but Black women need sunscreen too; this includes when it comes to our hair. UV rays have a tendency to do a real number on tresses. For one thing, they produce free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress that can weaken our hair's natural structure. Extreme sun exposure can also strip our natural hair color and give us dry and brittle strands too. That's why some hair sunscreen is another effective way to get and keep your hair summertime ready.
Naturally Curly has your back on this one too. Check out "6 DIY Sunscreen Recipes to Protect Your Hair".
Drink More Water
One of the big mistakes that a lot of us make when it comes to caring for our hair is we're far more preoccupied with what we put on our hair that we forget to pay attention to what we put into it from the inside out. Your hair is definitely not going to survive the summer season if you don't make sure to stay hydrated all throughout the day. Not only do you need water to replenish the fluids you lost from sweating, but since each strand is made up of roughly 25 percent of water, you can see why your hair especially needs it too. If you're averaging eight glasses of water before summer, up that to around 10 as summertime eases its way on in.
Not a water fan? Get what you need by drinking some infused water instead. You can get some awesome recipes here.
Get a Hair Oil for the Swimming Pool
Chlorine and salt water can wreak real havoc on hair, especially ours since our tresses tend to lean more towards being on the drier side of the hair spectrum anyway. If you'd prefer to not rock a swimming cap, something that you can do to give your hair some of the extra moisture that it needs is to apply a thin coat of oil before taking a swim.
Jojoba oil moisturizes. Grapeseed combats frizz. Lemongrass has antifungal and antiviral properties. My recommendation is to put two tablespoons of each into a plastic bottle, heat them up in the microwave for 15 seconds and add the oil to your hair. The combo will feel great and your tresses will be all set.
Keep a Hair Spritz Handy
On the super hot days when you want to give your natural hair a bit of a moisture-rich pick-me-up, why not go with an all-natural hair spritz? All you need is a small plastic spray bottle, some rosewater and a couple of other ingredients. You can keep the bottle in your bag and lightly mist your hair whenever you get the urge. Your scalp will instantly feel refreshed and your curls will instantly feel hydrated. It's a wonderful summertime treat for your hair from its roots right down to its ends.
A cool recipe: Fill your bottle halfway with rosewater (it'll stabilize your hair's pH balance). Then add a tablespoon of sweet almond oil, a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin (when combined with oil and water, it can reduce hair breakage) and 5-7 drops of lavender essential (it cleanses the scalp while stimulating hair growth in the process). Make sure to shake well before every use. Then spritz your hair and that's it. Your hair will totally be summer set!
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