How to Build a Summer Natural Hair Regimen That Works

African American female with curly natural hair laying on the sand in front of the ocean.

It’s June! That means that summer is officially right around the corner. With longer days and PTO to burn, many of us will be spending more time outdoors and vacationing with family and friends. That means our natural hair also has to navigate the heat and humidity of the summer season. No sweat. There are definitely ways to maintain gorgeous natural hair that can stand up to the heat.

Building a Natural Hair Regimen: Where Do I Start?

A natural hair regimen is simply a structured process or routine commonly used to restore and maintain the health of the hair. The basic components of a natural hair regimen include:

  • Cleansing
  • Conditioning
  • Styling
  • Finishing (optional)
Basic components of a natural hair regimen.

Many of us have developed or stumbled upon natural hair regimens that have helped to maintain our hair during drier and colder months. A complete overhaul of this routine is likely NOT necessary. However, you may find that your favorite products just don’t deliver the same results when heat and humidity are part of the equation. That is likely true. Here is why and what you can do about it…

How to Cleanse Your Natural Hair in the Summer

To get the most from your natural hair regimen it is important to start with a clean slate. This is especially true for summer months when increased sweating and heat can wreak havoc on the hair and leave it dry and brittle. It is always recommended to shampoo the hair at least once a month to remove any product build-up and stubborn residue and debris. This will not only help your products perform a bit better but it will help increase moisture and hydration because you are removing the hair film that can block moisture entry.

For a deep cleanse you want to look for a sulfate-free shampoo that has rather strong cleansing properties and contains a surfactant like c14-16 olefin sulfonate listed at the top of the ingredient list. Some examples include Kinky Curly Come Clean, Ouidad Ultra-Nourishing Cleansing Oil Shampoo, and Camille Rose Naturals Lavender Fresh Cleanse. This will help to clarify the hair and remove the stubborn build-up, however, you only want to use this periodically because it can dry out the hair if frequently used. For weekly cleansing sessions, a gentler surfactant with moisturizing properties is preferred.

One of my favorite gentle cleansers is the Mielle Organics Babassu Conditioning Shampoo. It cleanses the hair without drying it out and leaves the hair soft and pliable. This is also where many low poo and no poo cleansing products are beneficial. If preferred, co-washing can also be used to gently cleanse the hair between shampoo sessions. Co-washing will remove water soluble ingredients, sweat, and debris from the hair to allow for you to refresh your natural hair style between wash days. A lifesaver for wash and go styling.

Conditioning Natural Hair During Summer Months

Warm weather and sunny days are the main reasons we save vacation time for summer months. But, depending on where you live the heat can be pretty brutal during the summer. This can dry the hair out leaving it frizzy, limp, and brittle so it is important for you to make moisturizing your hair a priority. Regular deep conditioning is integral to restoring the hair. Deep conditioning with heat will allow for greater penetration of nourishing ingredients and is a must during hot summer months.

When shopping for a moisturizing conditioner to combat summer heat, look for products with humectants (i.e. aloe vera, glycerin, honey, agave ), natural butters, oils, and fatty alcohols (i.e. cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol) leading the ingredient list. Some ideas for your next shopping trip: Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioner, Kinky Curly Stellar Strands, and TGIN Miracle RepaiRx Deep Hydrating Hair Mask . Be sure to rotate in a protein based conditioner periodically to maintain the proper protein-moisture balance.

It’s Summer! Don’t Forget The Leave-In Conditioner!

The summer sun and heat will make using a leave-in conditioner a must for moisturized, long-lasting curls. A leave-in conditioner is typically formulated to use humectants and other ingredients to add moisture and nourishment to the hair without product build up. This is why they do not have to be rinsed from the hair. An added bonus is that most contain ingredients that can help protect the hair from heat and serve as a sunscreen and protectant which you will need once that sun starts beaming down. Yes! Your hair can be damaged by the sun, especially if you are spending a lot of time outside and/or if your hair is color treated.

Did you know that herbal oils can provide some protection from the sun? It’s true! Although the SPF values are relatively low and do not provide adequate protection for the skin, commonly used oils such as coconut oil and olive oil are able to absorb approximately 20% of UV rays and boost sunscreen capabilities.

Although the SPF values are relatively low and do not provide adequate protection for the skin, commonly used oils such as coconut oil and olive oil are able to absorb approximately 20% of UV rays and boost sunscreen capabilities.


Here are just a few quick tips before you grab your bottle:

  1. If you have low porosity hair you will want to choose a lighter leave-in so that it won’t simply sit on the hair but actually penetrate the hair strand. Just to name a few… Jane Carter Solution Curls To Go Untangle Me, Giovanni Direct Leave-In Weightless Moisture Conditioner, and Ouidad Moisture Lock should be light yet effective options that may be a perfect fit.
  2. Normal to high porosity hair can handle a heavier product that includes more natural oils and hair butters.
  3. Simply apply your leave-in to damp hair so that it distributes evenly and proceed with styling.
Sun protection factor (SPF) values for herbal oils. Adapted from Pharmacognosy Res. 2010 Jan-Feb; 2(1): 22–25.

Choosing a Natural Hair Styler to Tackle Summer Heat and Humidity

During hot summer months, your favorite moisturizing gel or styling cream that is loaded with humectants may not give you the results you want. A gel or curl mousse with a stronger hold may be needed to help styles last and hold up to the weather. Some of these stylers with a strong hold may create a noticeable gel cast initially which is not soft to the touch. Don’t worry. The gel cast is not a problem and helps you achieve greater hold. A little oil during your finishing step can soften the feel in no time. However, be mindful to watch out for stylers (i.e. gel, mousse) with short-chain alcohols like ethanol or SD alcohol 40 that may be part of some formulations. These are alcohols that can dry the hair out over time and should be avoided whenever possible.

Here’s a quick tip! Rather than completely avoiding the use of your favorite curl cream or switching styling products, it is possible to layer your favorite styler with an anti humectant gel such as the Advanced Climate Control Heat and Humidity Gel to provide an extra shield of protection against humidity. This is one of my favorite tricks to help styles hold up to the high heat and humidity common here in the south. Give it a try and see what you think!

Quote for Summer Natural Hair Tip

Finishing the Job… Completing Your Summer Natural Hair Regimen

Just like icing on a cake, finishing your summer style can help you reach a natural hair sweet spot by adding hold and enhancing shine. A holding spray like Innersense I Create Finish can be helpful for twist outs, braid outs, blowouts, and other styles where the curl pattern has been temporarily altered. It can keep the hair from reverting with the first sign of moisture. This is a common problem during summer months which is why it’s often known as wash and go season. But, now you know that you don’t have to be limited by heat and humidity (wink).

For a final touch, a light oil or enhancing spray like Jane Carter’s Curls to Go! Shine On Curl Elixir or Design Essentials Coconut & Monoi Intense Shine Oil Mist can lightly coat the strands with oil to enhance shine and reduce frizz. An alternative approach is to simply use a light oil like jojoba oil to smooth onto the hair with your hands. No matter which method you use, remember that a little goes a long way.

These are just a few tips to help you get the best hair days out of your summer months. Hope to see you and your fabulous curls on the beach soon!

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