Summer Hair Hooray Part I — From Curly Hair Styling Aids To Frizz Fighting Heroes
Even though stores everywhere are stocking up on back-to-school paraphernalia, heralding the coming of fall with racks full of cardigan sweater, we technically still have a month of summer left. And, if you’re anything like me, you plan on enjoying every steamy second, packing your schedule with trips to the beach, cookouts, and other fun excursions. Personally, I’m in no rush to break out the knee-high boots or admire the changing colors of the leaves on the trees in my nabe. There’s such a sense of whimsy and hope that accompanies summertime and I, for one, am soaking it all up.
But, from a beauty perspective, all that fun in the sun presents its own unique set of challenges — both in terms of skincare and haircare. On the hair front, the sticky, humid hair can prove to be an express route to frizz, while the sun’s UV rays can damage the hair follicle (and strip it of its color).
So how do you prepare so your hair can have as much fun in the summer as you do? Start by reading up on these products! For Part I of our Summer Hair special, we’re focusing on three categories: Curly Hair Musts, a collection of products to help define curls, activate ringlets, create beach-ready tousled waves, and more; Hair Smoothing Products, our top picks for keeping frizz at bay; and Moisturizing Shampoos and Conditioners, which focus on strengthening strands, locking in moisture, and promoting hair growth.
CURLY HAIR MUSTS
1. Moroccanoil Intense Curl Cream
If I had to name a single product that’s gotten me through this summer, it would have to be the Moroccanoil Intense Curl Cream. On those days when it’s over 90 degrees outside and it feels like Mother Nature has set the thermostat to “Broil,” straightening my curly hair is about as bright an idea as microwaving a roll of aluminum foil. If it’s hot enough that I start sweating minutes after leaving the shower, I know the wisest move is to embrace the natural texture of my hair and rock a curly ‘do. This lightweight cream functions as a leave-in moisturizer, infusing the hair with fatty acid-rich and vitamin E-packed argan oil, plus it smooths the hair, taming any fly-aways and helping you mold curly strands.
If you apply a quarter-sized amount to damp hair, working from root to tips, you’ll notice that it easily detangles strands. For best results, I recommend either scrunching palm-sized sections of hair to create a more voluminous look or dividing your mane into smaller pieces and twirling those around your index finger to create slightly tighter coils. Regardless of whether you have wavy strands, Shirley Temple-worthy spirals, S-patterned loops, or kinky corkscrew strands, this cream will keep your curls in check all day long.
Moroccanoil Intense Curl Cream, $32. Available at BeautyCollection.com
2. Arrojo Curl Creme
I’ve long been a fan of Nick Arrojo’s eponymous haircare line, and this here is the first product that made me a devout Arrojo agitator. Though there are plenty of curl defining creams on the market, this one helps to give them some oomph without sacrificing the hair’s caressability (and yes, I made this word up!) factor — it won’t harden or stiffen strands (as with most mousses and gels), weigh your mane down (the drawback to most styling products), or yield a crunchy, starchy texture. All you need to do is apply a quarter-sized amount of the Curl Creme to your palm, rubbing hands together, and then working the product through your entire head, scrunching each section of hair inside your hand and holding it for a few seconds to let the curls in there spring to life. Since it works wonderfully without heat activation, it’s particularly handy for wash-and-go summer days.
Arrojo Curl Creme, $17 for 5 fl oz. Available at Store.ArrojoProduct.com
3. Fekkai Coiff Océanique Tousled Wave Spray
Loose waves were among the predominant hair looks during New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2010, with models at the Alice + Olivia show and Proenza Schouler show sporting the look. At Alice + Olivia, the waves were soft and romantic, whereas at Proenza Schouler, the look was mussier and more grunge-inspired. To create the look at Proenza Schouler, Fekkai stylist Didier Malige started out by spritzing the Fekkai Beachcomber Leave-in Conditioner all over damp hair and then applying the Fekkai Coiff Océanique Tousled Wave Spray pictured above and blow drying hair with a diffuser. To give the look more hold, Didier and her team finished with the Fekkai Coiff Magnifique Ultra-Light Finishing Creme.
If you’re going for a laid-back, beachy look, this is your magic ticket!
Fekkai Coiff Océanique Tousled Wave Spray, $23. Available at Fekkai.com
4. Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Perfecting Line
If you’re accustomed to the traditional Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Definer, the new Hair Milk Curl Perfecting Shampoo and Conditioner may require a shift in perception. Like the original Hair Milk Curl Definer, the shampoo and conditioner feature hydrating ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, and jojoba seed oil, but these are accompanied by additional ingredients such as lemon peel oil, lemon extract, horsetail extract, sugar cane extract, cardamom seed oil, cedar leaf oil, orange oil, and vitamins A, E, C and Pro-Vitamin B5, as well ad cosmoceutical ingredients meant to improve hair health. Unlike the Hair Milk, which smells like a whipped butter treat, the shampoo has a surprising lemon-y scent that reigns over the creamier fragrance notes in the product for a scent that’s slightly reminiscent of key lime pie.
Once you stop expecting all the products in the line to smell like the beloved Hair Milk of the olden days, however, you can really start to appreciate their benefits. The shampoo and conditioner are pretty lightweight so, if you have really dry or kinky hair, expect to use a sizable amount of each per wash.
Though effective, these aren’t the highlights of the line — they’re the understudies in his “mane” production. The real stars are the styling products: the Hair Milk Lite Curl Booster, a lightweight version of its predecessor that provides hold and energizes curls, making it an ideal choice for women whose hair isn’t particularly dry or who have softer, looser waves or spirals; and the Hair Milk Original Curl Definer, the full-throttle moisturizer and styling cream for women with unruly curls. Both feature softening, hydrating, shine-enhancing ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, soybean oil, jojoba oil, and apricot kernel oil. The only difference is the texture of the two — simply put, the “Lite” version is precisely that: the 2% version of the full-bodied Hair Milk.
Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Perfecting Shampoo, $16; Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Perfecting Conditioner, $19; Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk The Original Curl Definer, $20; and Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Lite The Curl Booster, $20. All available at CarolsDaughter.com
5. Curlisto System Curl Reform
Not only does the Curlisto Curl Reform make your curly mane appear fuller than Bon Jovi’s teased-out mane in the ’80s, but it stimulates hair growth thanks to the use of biotin and arnica flower extract and provides protection from the sun’s UV rays and other environmental aggressors thanks to the antioxidant-rich açai flower in the formula. A pleasant mist, the Curl Reform delivers hold without the sticky, crunchy effect of most gel and mousse products.
Curlisto System Curl Reform, $24 for 8 oz. bottle. Available at Shop.Curlisto.com
6. Urban Therapy Twisted Sista 30 Second Curl Spray and Curl Activator
Inspired by the multi-ethnic women sauntering down the streets of New York, Urban Therapy created a frizz-busting, budget-friendly line of hair products for curly gals of every variety. Some of the products aim to activate curls, giving them more bounce, while others focus on helping curly-haired cuties achieve other looks, like a silky, straight ‘do or a perfectly smooth ballerina bun.
The Twisted Sista line includes a De-Frizz Shampoo, De-Frizz Conditioner, Curl Activator, Relaxing Straightening Creme, 30 Second Curls Spray and Different Strokes Serum (love the name of that last one!). The 30 Second Curls Spray is particularly handy during summer months, since it can refresh your look almost instantly with a few quick spritzes, and it comes in a handy, travel size that’s perfect for tucking into your purse. If you want to give your curls more definition and bless them with more moisture, opt for the Curl Activator, creamier product that helps to shape and define curls. A cool twist: both contain vitamin E, which protects hair from UV rays and other free radicals.
Urban Therapy Twisted Sista 30 Second Curl Spray and Curl Activator, $3.99-$4.99. Available at Target stores nationwide Duane Reade locations in New York and New Jersey.
HAIR SMOOTHING PRODUCTS
1. Ted Gibson Styling Hair Sheets
Ted Gibson is a genius — no question about it. With the frenzied pace of modern times, cosmetics and personal care companies have devised ways to make disposable, single-serving versions of almost any product: from the travel-sized, brush-and-toss Colgate Wisps to the Korres cleansing wipes and every other facial towelette on the market. But, until recently, no haircare line had revealed a similar product, one that wasn’t just travel-friendly, but which could quickly be discarded after a single use. Enter Ted Gibson’s hair sheets.
Each moist sheet features a moisturizing, smoothing complex consisting of silk amino acids (which help to fortify damaged and color-treated hair), marine-derived collagen (which helps to retain water, improving overall hair texture), wild orchid extract (said to soothe the scalp), natural lavender (which has moisturizing effect sans the heavier feel associated with most shea or cocoa butter-based formula), and vitamin A, vitamin B5 (otherwise known as panthenol), and vitamin E (which helps to protect hair from UV damage).
A box of Ted Gibson Hair Sheets includes ten towelettes, each packaged in its own individual pouch. On humid days when you know you’ll be running around, simply tuck one of the foil pouches inside your handbag and, when necessary, smooth the towelette over your hair — any frizzies will be tamed and smooth, beautiful hair will prevail.
Ted Gibson Styling Hair Sheet, $14.99 for 10 pack. Available at Target.com
2. Arrojo Frizz Control
This ranks among my all-time favorite frizz-fighting products (along with the Living Proof No Frizz Styler). With ingredients like softening apricot kernel oil hydrating and softening jojoba seed oil, moisturizing avocado oil, and fortifying wheat protein, the Arrojo Frizz Control hair lotion nourishes your mane, while locking in moisture and infusing hair with antioxidants to protect it from the sun’s UV rays. Though it’s recommended for all hair types, it’s particularly useful for curly-haired gals.
Arrojo Frizz Control, $15 for 4.2 oz. Available at ArrojoNYC.com
3. Fekkai Smooth Hair Cream
This smoothing cream features ingredients like: grape seed extract, which boasts anti-inflammatory properties and which strengthens blood vessels, improving circulation along the scalp and hence stimulating hair growth; wheat protein, which locks in moisture; chamomile, which restores shine to dull hair and which can work as a natural highlighter for blondes; rosemary, which adds luster and is said to promote hair growth; and rose extract, which has anti-inflammatory and softening effects.
Not only is this cream incredibly lightweight, but it can be applied to damp or dry hair. Since I often take showers at night, the fact that I can apply the Fekkai Smooth Hair Cream in the morning, after all the tossing and turning in bed has taken a toll on my ‘do, is a welcome source of relief.
Fekkai Smooth Hair Cream, $21. Available at Target.com
4. göt2b Smooth Operator Smoothing Lustre Lotion
Cashmere extract (or hydrolyzed wool) gets top billing on the göt2b Smooth Operator Smoothing Lustre Lotion ingredient list. These amino acid-rich proteins are typically derived from goat hair oil, then broken down into smaller, more water soluble molecules via hydrolysis (and most companies claim the process is completely harmless for goats). In terms of benefits, cashmere extract softens and nourishes hair, making it an ideal candidate for styling aids meant to smooth hair, tame frizz, and add hold. And for less than $10, this is one of the most affordable road maps to a nice and smooth hair existence.
göt2b Smooth Operator Smoothing Lustre Lotion, $5.99. Available nationwide at food, drug and mass market retailers.
5. Organix Smoothing Shea Butter Smoothing Treatment
If you have really dry hair, this creamy product will prove to be a lifesaver, moisturizing locks while preserving the look of your hairstyle and keeping frizz at bay. Easy to manipulate, the texture of the Organix Smoothing Shea Butter Smoothing Treatment feels like a mix between A&D ointment and a feathery light moisturizer. The formula contains: ultra hydrating shea butter; a silk protein amino complex; antioxidant-rich vitamin E, which helps to protect skin from free radicals; moisturizing avocado oil; soothing chamomile extract; and whipped yogurt proteins.
Though it’s not a thick product, I wouldn’t recommend it for girls with normal-to-oily tresses, as it could very well leave their strands feeling overly greasy.I like using this product when I’m planning on wearing my hair in a ponytail (or any other updo), since it provides as much control as a gel without the drying, damaging effects of the latter.
Organix Smoothing Shea Butter Smoothing Treatment, $6.99. Available at select Target, Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart stores.
MOISTURIZING SHAMPOOS AND CONDITIONERS
1. Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Ultra Shine Honey Peppermint Shampoo and Conditioner
It was love at first sight — or, rather, at first wash — with Nick Chavez’s new Ultra Shine Honey Peppermint Shampoo and Conditioner. The shampoo’ s smell reminds me of a yummy cup of peppermint tea sweetened with a dollop of honey.
Now let’s get to the wonder duo that is peppermint and honey. Peppermint oil is a multi-tasking product that’s simply perfect for haircare products, as it contains pH balancing properties that can simultaneously curb oil production in women with greasy scalps or increase moisture levels along the hair shaft in women wit dry, flaky scalps. It also helps to stimulate hair growth and has a pleasant cooling effect (which comes in rather handy on steamy summer days). Honey, meanwhile, works as a humectant, which means it draws moisture and retains moisture, plus it helps to enhance shine.
When can work the Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Ultra Shine Honey Peppermint Shampoo into a nice froth and massage it all over your scalp, your scalp will tingle a bit (in a good way) as it stimulates the scalp, plus your hair will feel phenomenally clean — like it’s been through its very own industrial-sized washing machine. The Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Ultra Shine Honey Peppermint Conditioner, meanwhile, seems to feature a higher honey-to-peppermint quotient, smelling like something so delicious, Winnie the Pooh would be compelled to hunt it down.
Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Ultra Shine Honey Peppermint Shampoo, $18, and Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Ultra Shine Honey Peppermint Conditioner, $20. Available at Store.NickChavezBeverlyHills.com
2. Christo Hair Rehab Cleanser and Conditioner
If this had been the type of rehab being offered to Amy Winehouse, she would’ve said “yes, yes, yes.” This shampoo and conditioner left my hair feeling so detoxed that I will now be referring to Christo as The Cleaner.
The Hair Rehab Cleanser smells a bit like bitter orange thanks to the formula’s inclusion of orange oil, which controls the scalp’s sebum production and hence functions as a powerful cleansing agent. The most important ingredients in the formula, however, are the marine plant extracts: sea kelp to make hair softer and more vibrant; seaweed, said to stimulate hair growth and strengthen the hair shaft; and sea algae to add shine to tresses. I love how you can work the shampoo into a nice lather without excessive suds or froth. When you rinse the shampoo off, your hair literally feels squeaky clean. And that’s just the first round — the hair CPR routine can only be complete with the Christo Hair Rehab Conditioner, a powerful treatment yielding off-the-charts results.
When you press down on the pump of the Christo Hair Rehab Conditioner, the product will be dispensed in undulating, angel hair-like streams, resembling the look of Silly String. The color, meanwhile, is a light golden honey mustard shade, while the texture resembles that of a custard dessert. Featuring algae, sea kelp, hydrolyzed wheat protein, orange oil, and lavender, the conditioner almost instantly detangles stresses and restores a lovely softness to your mane.
As someone with color-treated hair, I was shocked by how healthy my hair looked after a few weeks of Christo’s “rehab.” Not only did my hair look lustrous and feel silky, but it had more bounce and body.
Christo Hair Rehab Cleanser, $48, and Christo Hair Rehab Conditioner, $64. Available at Shop.Curlisto.com
*** Stay tuned for more summer hair fun in Part II, coming up later this week!***