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Experts agree that going against your natural hair texture in the summer is a tall order. According to Lesley Bride, a Pantene senior scientist, humidity breaks up the straight-hair bonds (building blocks inside the hair shaft) that you've so carefully created during styling, causing hair to return to its natural state.
All's not lost, however; give curly hair a head start by using a smoothing or straightening shampoo and conditioner at bedtime and allowing hair to dry overnight. The next morning apply a heat-protecting mist and straighten the hair in small sections with a flatiron. Try Vavoom Gold Heat Iron-In Control Protective Dry Mist, $15.95, which helps distribute heat more evenly with real gold and protects the hair with ceramides and sugar crystals. Afterward, smooth anti-frizz cream, such as Dove Advanced Care Sheer Moisture Therapy Anti-Frizz Finishing Cream, $5.99, throughout the hair to prevent it from curling up again.How do I make my straight hair curly?
If you have naturally straight hair, wind small, damp sections of hair (as though you are twisting them into buns) and secure with bobby pins before bed. The next morning, simply remove the pins, undo your newly wavy pieces with your fingers and set with hair spray.How do I make my naturally straight hair wavy?
It can be just as tough for straight hair to hold a wave as it is for curly hair to stay straight in the summer. Tippi Shorter, Pantene celebrity stylist, recommends braiding or twisting damp hair and letting it air-dry for a kick of texture. Also, try this expert trick: Spray damp hair with a salt spray (the salt holds the cuticle open as the hair dries, creating texture along the hair shaft) and revel in your waves. Try Bumble and bumble Surf Spray, $20, a classic texturizing spray with fine salt particles and moisturizing seaweed extract.
"Straight hair reacts to extra humidity by going flat and limp," notes Mark Townsend, the Matrix hairstylist who made Reese Witherspoon's bangs look oh-so-glam at this year's Golden Globes. The secret to creating volume, specifically lift and body at the root, is using the right amount of product in the right place and in the right order. For instance, offset that flat-as-a-pancake look by applying conditioner to the ends of the hair while you're still in the shower (avoiding the roots completely) and then topping the whole head with shampoo. End with a complete rinse, suggests Mark Garrison, a New York City salon owner. "It's the best way to wash fine hair without overconditioning it," he says. Or try a shampoo and conditioner in one, such as Garnier Fructis Body & Volume 2-in-1 System, $3.99.
As for styling, the goal is to add as little extra weight to your hair as possible, says Shorter. Avoid pomades or creams; instead, try mousse, which builds body throughout the hair. Apply it directly onto a vent brush and brush it evenly through the hair. Try TRESemme Thermal Creations Volumizing Mousse, $3.99, which locks in volume when used with a blow-dryer. For height just at the roots, use a root-lifting spray, such as Nexxus Root Exxtend, $13; its nozzle targets the product directly where it's needed. Follow with a blow-dryer or set large Velcro rollers around the crown for 10 minutes. Make your hair more voluminous than you'd normally wear it since it will deflate a bit as the day goes on.
Style Shortcut Bonus: Too hot to break out the blow-dryer? Give stick-straight hair a boost by loosely winding a section of damp hair at the top of the crown and securing it with a clip. The roots will retain some of the volume after they've dried.
Heat and humidity enhance curls but they can also make them very unruly. "Humidity separates the cuticle -- the outer layer -- from the rest of the hair shaft," says Brenda Berry, owner of Brilli Salon in Chicago. This lifts the tiny hairs along the cuticle, creating frizz. Seal the cuticle with silicone-based products found in curly hair shampoos, conditioners and serums. Try Infusium23 Frizz(ologie) Shampoo and Conditioner, $5.99 each, with silicone and moisturizing panthenol. Curling creams and gels deliver frizz-free curls, and your ideal formula will depend on your curl pattern. For loose curls, rake a curl cream through wet hair and let it dry. Try Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer Lotion, $17.50, with brazil nut and wheat proteins. For kinky curls, end with a leave-in conditioner. "Once hair is dry, mix a frizz-control serum with a lightweight gel and apply to every strand," Shorter advises. Try Pantene Restoratives Frizz Control Extra-Strength Serum, $4.99, and L'Oreal Paris Studio Line Absent Minded Liqui-Gel, $4.99.
"Summer is the time to give hair a break from blow-outs," says Garrison. Instead, apply a treatment styling cream, such as Sebastian Originals Potion 9 Wearable Treatment, $14.95, with jojoba and olive oils, and twist hair into a bun.
Style Shortcut Bonus: Coat curls with a leave-in conditioner and push them back with a headband until they dry. "Headbands double as styling tools," notes Townsend. When you remove the headband, the front portion will be smooth and the back will have pretty, soft curls.
Good news for naturally wavy hair types -- summer is your hair's best season. "Humidity actually strengthens the wave pattern and adds the right amount of volume, making waves even prettier," says Berry. Of course, there are a few caveats. Wavy hair can get frizzy and flyaway and has a tendency to swell, notes Shorter. Since overstyling wavy hair can actually disrupt the natural wave, the focus shouldn't be on styling technique but rather on selecting the right products to help keep hair conditioned and preserve its loose, carefree texture.
First, use a lightweight conditioning spray or cream that adds just enough moisture so that your waves are soft instead of crunchy. Try Aussie Catch the Wave Taming Milk, $2.99, which creates gentle waves and conditions, too. Follow up with a texturizing product to encourage a piece-y look, such as Pantene Texturize! Moussing Foam, $6.49. "Make sure you apply the product all over," advises Shorter. "If you overlook large chunks of hair in the application you will notice it later." Also keep in mind that those luscious waves you see on the red carpet have been created with the help of a curling iron. To make your waves even more defined, start halfway down the length of the hair and wind small sections around a curling iron.
Style Shortcut Bonus: Want to preserve this ideal texture? Then stay away from hairbrushes! Instead, using a wide-toothed comb, detangle your hair in the shower while conditioner is still in, then rinse. Afterward, gently blot the hair with a towel, spray with a light conditioning spray, and just let it be.
These breakthrough products solve your most common summer hair complaints.
THE COMPLAINT: Frizz
THE CULPRIT: Humidity affects every hair texture.
TRY: Easy Straight Climate Shield Hairspray, $8, a waterproof formula with polymers and resins similar to those found in sunscreen; Redken Fresh Curls Anti-Frizz Shiner, $14.95, which has a patented complex that protects curls from humidity.
THE COMPLAINT: Greasiness
THE CULPRIT: Excess perspiration during hot months causes too-slick roots.
TRY: Charles Worthington Rebalance Shampoo, $5.99, to restore hair's natural pH levels.
THE COMPLAINT: Itchy scalp
THE CULPRIT: The surf, pool, sun and chemical processes dry the scalp. Curly hair types tend to have a drier scalp all year round, and more so in the summer.
TRY: Ellin Lavar Scalp Rx, $9.99, which soothes with salicylic acid and moisturizers.
THE COMPLAINT: Dry hair
THE CULPRIT: Chlorine strips the protective layer.
TRY: Joico K-Pak Chelating Shampoo, $11.95, a weekly cleanser that removes chlorine and product residue; Biolage Sunsorials Sun Repair Treatment, $13.95, an antioxidant-packed conditioner.
THE COMPLAINT: Dull color
THE CULPRIT: UV exposure fades color pigments.
TRY: KMS California SolPerfection All Day Defense, $16.95, a detangler with UV filters and antioxidants; John Frieda Frizz Ease Thermal Protection Formula Hair Serum, $9.99, which contains UV shields.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, July 2007.