(Hair)

The Ultimate Summer Guide to Healthy, Hydrated Natural Hair

Plus, the best products to keep your type 4 curls as fly as you.

Pattern Beauty

Summer is in full swing, and to all the girls with beautiful natural curls, if you haven’t thought about what you’re going to do with your hair this season, now’s the time. Just like maintaining a healthy plant, it should be a priority to make sure your hair is equally nourished and hydrated no matter the season.

Although the summer months bring longer and hotter days, they are also accompanied by an increase of sun exposure and an excess amount of humidity in the air, both of which can be detrimental to natural hair — especially for curl patterns 4a-4c. And as tempting as it is to be outside as much as possible, you can’t just ignore the needs of your curls and coils. So once you’ve found your go-to sunscreen, the next step on your summer beauty agenda is to lock down your natural hair care routine.

With all of the fun-in-the-sun plans you may have, the last thing you want to do is neglect your hair and leave it open to more damage. Luckily, below you’ll find all the tips and tricks for maintaining your natural hair this season regardless of how you like to wear your curls — loose, tight, or braided up in a protective style.

The Biggest Summer Concerns For Type 4 Hair

With all of summer’s extra humidity, the chance of frizzy hair is more of a guarantee than anything else. “Humidity causes hydrogen bonds to block water molecules from forming in your hair, making it extra dry and frizzy,” Jamila Powell, Founder of Naturally Drenched, tells TZR. While no one wants major flyways or their hair to be twice as big than they intended, frizzy ends are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to natural hair concerns this season.

“Type 4 curls don’t react well to the summer months,” says celebrity hairstylist Chuck Amos. “With the sun drying your hair and the humidity promoting frizz, you really need products that moisturize as well as control your curls or protective styles.” The excess dryness caused not only by humidity but by increased sun exposure also does more damage than you may think. For Powell, she believes that sun exposure is the number one concern for all type 4 hair. Just like humidity, the UV rays can also damage your hair's molecular bonds, causing the cuticles of your hair (aka the outer hair shaft) to break, leaving the hair thirsty and dry.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

The easiest solution for dry and dehydrated strands is adding more moisture, which is also crucial if you want to see your curls thrive by the end of September. The question is how? Obviously no one expects you to wash your hair everyday — that would be unbearable. However in order to retain moisture in between wash days it’s important to incorporate daily products that douse your hair with hydration. “Keep refreshing your hair with water or moisturizing products, sealing your ends, and oiling your scalp to ensure your hair isn’t completely dried out when summer ends,” says Geneva Fowler, lead of style at BEAUTYBEEZ.

There are quite a few ways to go about increasing your curls’ moisture levels, no matter your current lifestyle or time constraints. For Fowler, a preferred way to add moisture and bring curls back to life is via a hair steamer. She recommends using it prior to adding in your favorite leave-in conditioner or curl styler to help soften your curls and add in more bounce. If you don’t have a steamer just yet she says that you can turn on your shower and allow the steam to fill up the bathroom — it’ll work the same magic on your hair. If that’s still too much time for you, a spray bottle and some warm water will also work in a pinch to help revive your curls between wash days.

In addition to your daily added hydration routine, your nighttime hair care regimen can also make a huge difference in your hair's overall health this summer. Powell recommends giving pre-bed moisturizing a try. “Apply a mask to the ends of your hair before bed and twist your hair up to sleep,” she says. “In the morning your hair will be rehydrated and any frizz will be smoothed down.” Not only will this help retain moisture in your hair, but the right mask can also impart much needed nutrients for hair that is damaged or struggling with split ends.

Switch Up Your Wash-Day Routine

Have you ever felt that the dirtier your hair is, the shiner and prettier it looks? You’re not totally off base if so. Washing your hair too much or using products that strip your hair (which can happen with sulfates especially) can eliminate the natural oils it needs to maintain that moisture and keep your scalp balanced and healthy.

Another pro tip: depending on your wash schedule, try to switch out your shampoo for a co-wash every other wash day in order to retain some of those natural oils. It will be gentler on your hair and scalp but still help you to feel clean.

Lastly, no matter what else you do, finish your wash day with an ultra nourishing deep conditioner. This is nonnegotiable. A great deep conditioner can make the biggest difference in the health and overall definition of your luscious curls, so be sure to experiment with a few different formulas to find the one that works the best for your type 4 hair. Do not skimp on providing your hair with all of the moisture it needs and deserves, especially in the summer.

If you’re ready to get your summer 2021 curls on point, check out six of the most in-demand products for healthy, hydrated natural hair.

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.