How to care for Afro hair in the summer

We asked Afro hair specialist Stefan Bertin to share his tips and tricks for making sure textured hair stays looking beautiful in the heat
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When it comes to textured and Afro hair, what are the major dos and don’ts in the summer?

‘It’s true that the sun can have some detrimental effects on Afro hair, so it’s essential to amp up the hydration during the summer season. I’d advise washing – or at least fully wetting – your hair one more time than you would usually. Even if you rinse instead of shampooing, still use conditioner or, even better, a masque. Keeping on top of your hair’s moisture levels is key to helping it stay healthy over the warmer months. Make sure you use a sulphate-free shampoo – I’d advise that everyone with ‘curlies’ to do that anyway, but it’s especially essential for the summer. Only use a sulphate shampoo every so often for a deep clean.’

Let’s talk about humidity + Afro hair

‘Humidity is the amount of water or moisture in the air. Putting water on hair is kind of like pressing a reset button. When exposed to humidity, hair fibres expand, hair that has been stretched or straightened will slowly revert, and hair with curl definition will lose definition and become frizzy. Personally, I’m quite into a bit of frizziness, but I understand not everyone is. To keep it in check, you need to lock in moisture already in the hair, and keep out any moisture from the air, by applying a leave-in conditioner as a final step in your routine.’ We love Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream.

Is there a go-to protective summer hairstyle you recommend for Afro hair?

‘There isn’t one specific hairstyle, but anything protective is the way to go for the summertime. Braids, twists and faux locs are gorgeous and offer the most protection. Some people don’t like adding extensions, though, so you can opt for buns, loose ponytails, flat twists and cornrows. Although these don’t offer as much protection as other styles, they safeguard hair against the elements and keep it off your face.’

We’ll be back in swimming pools and the sea soon. What are your top tips for Afro hair and chlorine and salt water?

‘To be honest, Afro hair isn’t a great friend of salt or chlorine, because they can cause extreme dryness. Whether or not you wear a swimming cap, always saturate your hair in regular tap or shower water before entering the sea or a pool. Your hair will absorb that, instead of the chlorine or salt water it’s about to be exposed to. I’d also recommend applying a hair oil, which can further minimise chlorine or salt absorption. In my experience, caps don’t do all that much, but if you do choose to use one, protect your edges from the friction of the swimming cap by using Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner. Apply the treatment before putting on your cap. After swimming in a pool or the sea, wash your hair that same day with a cleansing shampoo to remove chlorine, or salt, without overly drying.’