Here's what you need to know to keep your hair healthy, stylish in summer
Rising mercury levels can be hard on your curly locks. The heat and humidity that are typical of Mumbai summers cause curly hair to quickly become dull and dehydrated
Kangana Ranaut went all out with her curly look at the Cannes Film Festival. pic/Getty Images
Kangana Ranaut's jaunty curls have recently been living it up under the balmy French sun — a feat that stylists and other curly-hair wearers swear is much more challenging than it appears. The heat and humidity that are typical of Mumbai summers cause curly hair to quickly become dull and dehydrated. Your curls lose their shape and definition faster, and your mane becomes frizzy, discoloured and untameable as the mercury rises.
Much of this damage can be attributed to increased exposure to UV light during sunnier months, says Dr Batul Patel, a dermatologist at The Bombay Skin Clinic. "UVA radiation is responsible for changes to hair colour, while UVB rays cause keratin [a fibrous protein that is the primary constituent of hair] to deteriorate," she explains. The heat causes curly hair — already drier than straight hair — to become even more dehydrated, which, in turn, makes the cuticle, the outermost layer of the hair shaft, scaly. Your hair absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, and individual strands swell up, leading to that dreaded summer frizz, says Amir Khan, style director at Jean Claude Biguine. It also gets sweatier much faster, and regular washing is essential to keep your scalp clean. However, repeated shampooing can strip your hair of moisture, which contributes to more frizz and fewer good hair days.
Here's how you can make a few simple changes to your hair care routine, and achieve the bouncy, curly hair of your dreams.
Choose the right products
The key to achieving a lush head of curls lies in identifying the right products for curly hair, says Pavithra Rajkumar, blogger at Purely Curlie. "Most conditioners and serums contain silicones, which leave behind residue. To combat this, shampoos are infused with sulphates, which can be especially drying for curly hair," she says. Asha Barrak, who blogs about curly hair on Right Ringlets and is also the founder of the Facebook group Indian Curl Pride, recommends avoiding gels or other hold products that contain alcohol denat, SD alcohol or any other forms of alcohol as they can cause further dryness.
Instead, she recommends using a mild, sulphate-free shampoo followed by a rich moisturising conditioner. Follow this up with a leave-in conditioner, and layer this with gel to give your hair lasting hold and definition. "Look for hard- hold gels containing styling polymers such as VP/VA copolymer and acrylates copolymer, or polyquaterniums. Avoid products that contain a high concentration of humectants such as glycerine, propylene glycol and sodium PCA," she says.
This done, scrunch your hair to enhance your curls and let your hair air dry. "Don't separate your curls as this will introduce frizz," she warns, adding that the gel can leave a cast as it dries. "Scrunching your hair to remove this cast once it is completely dry will make your hair feel soft again," she suggests. Fellow curly hair blogger Pallavi Juneja (The Curious Jalebi) points out that brushing curly hair causes breakage and frizz. Instead, she asks that you detangle your hair using your fingers or a wide-toothed comb while your hair is still coated with conditioner.
In addition to regular conditioning, Juneja advocates treating your hair to a moisturising deep conditioning mask at least once a week during summer. She uses several DIY recipes, including a combination of one ripe banana, two tablespoons of olive, coconut or almond oil, and one tablespoon of yoghurt along with a few drops of your favourite essential oil to combat the odour. Leave the mask for roughly 30 minutes, before rinsing with plain water. Alternatively, use two tablespoons of coconut milk and one tablespoon of honey. These masks work best when used on freshly washed damp hair. Further, she advises minimising the use of shampoo during summer, and simply rinsing sweaty hair out with water or washing the lengths of your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. She also whips up a simple gel by combining ground flaxseed and water, with a few drops of essential oil. "Products containing genuine Argan oil moisturise hair and fight dryness with remarkable efficiency," says Rohit Murgai, national head of hair services at VLCC.
Protect your mane
If you intend to spend a good amount of time in the pool in summer, Murgai advises soaking your hair in tap water before heading out for a swim. "Hair saturated with clean water will not soak up as much chlorinated pool water," he says, "You can also protect your hair with a light layer of oil. After each swim, make sure to rinse out all the chlorinated water and apply a deep conditioner." Juneja also recommends covering your hair with a latex cap while swimming, and a satin scarf or hat while travelling.
Style it right
Instead of further drying out your strands with heat styling, Disha Jagadish, digital marketer and blogger at That Sassy Curl, advises slicking your hair back into a high ponytail to stay cool while also flaunting your curls. Smoothen out any frizz with gel, she says, and cover up your hair tie with a section of hair for a more sophisticated finish. Messy buns are another simple, but stylish way to beat the heat, she adds. For fancy occasions, wear your hair half-up and half-down, pulling the hair around your face to the back of your head and securing it with bobby pins. Tug gently on the crown for added volume, she says. Damaged hair and split ends aren't very good at retaining moisture, says Juneja, who makes it a point to trim her hair before each summer. "If your hair is extensively damaged, choose a trendy layered style to start afresh," she advises.
Actor Tanaaz Irani was amongst the first to proudly embrace her curls on the silver screen and has inspired thousands of women to shun the flat iron. Speaking about her summer hair maintenance routine, she says, "I make sure to use a leave-in conditioner in summer, combined with oil replacement therapy. This, along with regular hair spas, keeps my curls moisturised. If I am in a hurry, I use an oil mask and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing. I don't use too many styling products in summer, as they make the hair stiff and hard to maintain. In the day, I use lighter products that don't weigh the hair down and reserve heavier products for evenings."
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