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In summer curly hair wants nothing more than to do what it's meant to do -- curl! And the only difference between smooth, bouncy curls and frizzy, fuzzy ones is a matter of choosing the right product and applying it correctly. First, saturate every strand with a curl-enhancing cream that's made for your hair type, whether it's thin- or thick-textured. (If your hair is very coarse, add an anti-frizz serum to the mix.) Then -- and this is crucial -- do not touch your hair since doing so will only encourage frizz. "The more you manipulate it, the more likely you are to disturb its shape," says Mark Garrison, a celebrity stylist and salon owner in New York City. Once your hair is approximately 90 percent dry, go ahead and loosen the curls with your fingers.THE MISSION: Fight Frizz
Frizz is something curly folks are all too familiar with, reports Cheri McMaster, principal hair scientist for Pantene. "Nearly 80 percent of people with wavy and curly hair have frizz, which is created by errant hairs that don't twist and turn in the same direction as the rest of the hair," says McMaster, adding that some straight-haired women have a few strays, too. Of course, summer's high heat and humidity exacerbate frizz because the natural tendency of hair is to suck in moisture from the environment, which can triple a strand's size. The result, of course, is major frizz.THE RESCUE
First, remember that your anti-frizz strategy begins in the shower. Start with a silicone-based shampoo for smoothing down the cuticle, such as (1) John Frieda Frizz Ease Straight Ahead Daily Shampoo, $5.99, followed by the matching conditioner. Next, create a barrier between your hair and the environment with a coating of an anti-frizz styler, such as (2) Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Frizz Control Extra-Strength Serum, $4.99. Finally, whether you decide to blow-dry your hair straight or let it dry on its own, follow up with a spritz of conditioning hair spray. We like (3) KMS California FlatOut Anti-Humidity Seal, $15.95, which helps keep that wretched humidity out of your hair and in the environment where it belongs.
While we'll always love the playfulness of a ponytail, there's a "new" hairdo in town: the sleek braid. A braid not only keeps your hair away from your face just as effectively as a ponytail, but it also lets you condition your hair as you go about your day, with no one the wiser. "In fact, you can make a moisturizing treatment your sole styling product," recommends Garrison. (If your hair is curly, you should also use a bit of gel to tame any flyaways.) Remember to keep the braid simple and close to your head, off the nape of your neck and hanging straight down: Anything higher will look too childish.THE MISSION: Boost Limp Locks
Women with fine and limp hair face a year-round dilemma that worsens in summer. The main culprit -- just as it is for curly-haired people -- is humidity, which weakens the hold of your styling products, says McMaster. "Also, fine hair has less strength and substance than thicker hair -- like the difference between a thread and a piece of wool -- making it harder to create lift," she says. Summer's heat also activates the oil glands on the scalp, so if your hair is already oily, you can expect even more issues. Sort of makes you wish for winter's return, doesn't it?THE RESCUE
It's imperative that you shampoo often, ideally with a volumizing shampoo, such as (1) L'Oreal Paris Vive Pro Style and Body Infusing Shampoo, $4.99. A volumizing shampoo will rid the scalp of the oil that drags your hair down, as well as help thicken your hair before you add any styling products. If you hate the idea of shampooing every day, then keep a dry shampoo handy, such as (2) Fekkai Wash & Wear Instant Shampoo Spray, $20, which attracts and lifts product buildup and oil off the hair. Instead of using a traditional conditioner, saturate your wet hair with a lightweight yet hydrating leave-in conditioner, such as (3) C.O. Bigelow Leave-in Conditioning Detangling Spray, $12. How you style your wet hair also plays a big role in how it will look when it's dry. Therefore, use styling products that promise "high hold" (these are less vulnerable to the melting powers of humidity) and target your roots with the heat of your blow-dryer to create height. "Use a small round brush and let hair cool down before pulling the brush away. This will help the hair set into that shape," says Wayne Vincent, owner of New York City's Red Salon and an Emmy-nominated hairstylist for One Life to Live.
Wavy hair, a beautiful combination of straight and curly, is undeniably sexy. Straight-haired types will need to get started with a curling iron, while curly girls will first need to blow-dry their hair until it's fairly straight. Then mist the hair with a wax spray or light pomade, says Garrison, and separate the hair into several half-inch-wide sections. Wrap each section around the barrel of an iron from the midshaft; do not curl the ends. This will ensure that you get a cool, rumpled look that's not too "done." Another option is to spray slightly damp hair with hair spray or spray gel, wrap several pieces around sponge rollers before going to sleep. You'll love the result!THE MISSION: Softer Strands
As if naturally dry and brittle hair weren't enough of a challenge, damaged hair -- hair with split ends and breakage caused by over-styling and coloring -- will make you work even harder. "The sun really works against colored hair," says McMaster. "Ultraviolet radiation breaks apart proteins in the cuticle and bleaches out some of the color molecules. Color shifts and becomes brassy and orange."THE RESCUE
Getting your stiff hair under control in the summer is a matter of smarter hair habits. For starters, treat your hair to a cleansing and hydrating shampoo, such as (1) Umberto Beverly Hills M Moisturizing Shampoo, $8.99, followed by a hair mask. We like (2) Sunsilk Hydra TLC Multi-Symptom mask, $3.59, and recommend using it as often as once a week. When you're ready to style -- or before you take a dip in the pool -- coat your hair with a protective spray, such as (3) Ouidad Summer Shield, $20, which guards against the sun's ultraviolet rays. In fact, it's always smart to have a conditioning and replenishing product in your hair before exposing it to water. "Your hair won't grab the chlorine or salt water because it's protected by the conditioner," says Simone Ciorobara, a hair stylist for the Valery Joseph Salon, in New York City. And don't forget to schedule your next trim. Nothing else fixes those split ends!
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, August 2006.