How to look after afro hair in the summer, because our kinks and curls deserve extra care at this time of year
Lightening of afro hair and scalp exposure to the sun is not the only form of damage to look out for during the summer explains, celebrity hairstylist Zateesha Barbour: “Like with all hair types, time spent in the sun can lighten afro hair, however this is especially true for chemically treated afro hair, whether that be coloured or straightened, any damage from the sun can also be exasperated by using heat tools.”
Barbour explains that “summer is a great time to opt for low/no heat when drying your natural hair but if your curls/coils are inadequately moisturised, even without added heat; the sun can leave you with dryness. So be mindful to keep on top of your deep conditioning routine and colour protecting products that also provide UV protection, to avoid colour fade”.
Chlorine and seawater
Quick dips in salty waves and chlorine treated pools may be welcome breaks from humid heat, but navigating post swim haircare can sometimes feel like an unwelcome chore.
Trichologist Ebuni Ajiduah explains that along with the “drying effect on the hair and skin, chlorine exposure in the summer can also cause things like scalp irritation and in coloured hair, the copper in the water can affect the quality of the colour and alter it.” For best protection for your scalp and summer fro, Ajiduah suggests wearing your hair in “simple style like twists or plaits in order to prevent shrinkage, that easily allows for the hair to be washed or rinsed post swim to remove sea water and chemicals. The Soul Cap is a brilliant option for maximum protection – just be sure to use a small amount of leave in conditioner or oil to lightly coat the hair before putting it on”
For the days where a swimming cap doesn’t make the summer essentials list, hairstylist Zateesha Barbour recommends “pre-pooing” with shea butter or oil products in order to create a protective barrier. She goes on to explain, that “applying heat to the hair without washing out chlorine can actually result in excessive dryness and breakage.” A Cool dip in the seas however, she continues, “isn’t always a bad thing”; depending on your natural moisture levels in “healthy natural hair, sea water can add more texture and pattern in your hair – however people with sensitivities, should avoid full submersions in the sea.”
Increased humidity and sweat
Hot and humid days may be a welcome change from grey skies and rain, however for kinky, coily and curled haired people it can also become an endless battle with shrinkage and unwanted fizz. However according to Barbour, sweat and moisture filled air does not have to become your summer foe if you’re mindful of the overall health and hydration of your afro hair. “I always say hair only absorbs atmospheric moisture when it does not have enough of its own” explains the celebrity stylist, “so making sure your hair has enough moisture is vital for a frizz free foundation before natural styling”. If the rise in temperature has made you long for silky straight strands, then Barbour suggests booking in a “keratin smoothing treatments. They are perfect for anyone who wants to wear their hair straight/smooth without worry of frizz.”