Hate your hair during Florida's seemingly endless summer? Join the club. No amount of straightening, slicking and scrunching can beat the heat and humidity of our subtropical paradise.
But you can survive the next four months. Promise. Without a daily ponytail. Whether your locks are curly or stick straight, color-treated or au naturel, local stylists share the inside scoop on enjoying the balmy weather without fear of frizz or fading.
If you have truly straight hair, you aren't sweating the heat. In a late-afternoon rainstorm, all you need is an umbrella to keep from ruining your evening 'do. (Curse you.)
But if your sleek look comes from a blow dryer, flatiron or any other instrument of frustration, Florida's sticky summer is your worst enemy. Do you have any hope of protecting all that time spent each morning taming frizz and poof?
"Add more product," says Jeremiah Ward, a stylist at Level SalonSpa in Tampa's Hyde Park Village.
You'll want a product that seals your hair against humidity. And you need to use the right amount. Too little simply won't work; too much will make your hair all greasy.
Avoid big globs. You can always add more. And if you're not sure how to work with your product, "don't ever be afraid to ask for help," he says. Your stylist wants you to look good, especially if someone asks where you get your hair done.
But if after your best efforts, you still find yourself touching up with a flatiron in the middle of the afternoon, it may be time to consider this advice from Suzin Moon: "Don't fight it," the stylist and owner of LolaJane's Beauty Lounge in St. Petersburg tells her wavy clients. "Every time you go outside it's not going to look good."
It may be time to go curly.
Unleashing your inner curl doesn't have to be a nightmare. Although it's going to involve some trial and error, knowing a few basics will get you through the transition:
No. 1: Humidity can be your friend.
No. 2: It's all about the moisture.
"I like my hair better in the summer than in the winter," says curly girl Tiffany Anderson, owner and stylist of Live Curly Live Free, a salon specializing in guess-what in Gulfport.
To ease frizz, your hair needs to be well moisturized. Whether you have loose waves or corkscrew curls, Anderson says you'll want to use a silicone-free conditioner. For inexpensive, easy-to-find brands, she recommends Suave Naturals or Aubrey Organics.
How important is conditioner? Many of her clients keep in their purse a spray bottle containing a mixture of one tablespoon of their favorite conditioner, diluted in a cup of water, to spritz on their curls when they need a midday pickup.
Shampoo is a controversial topic. Some in the curl community refuse to touch it, and others can't live without it. On this much, most can agree: Many popular shampoos use harsh chemicals that can be damaging to curls. So if you suds up, look for a brand that's sulfate free. And you don't need to be shampooing daily. If you perspire heavily, you can just rinse out your hair with plain water, gently massaging your scalp, then condition.
Oh, and don't dry with that stubby old towel — and definitely don't briskly rub your hair with it.
Fight frizz by scrunching the water out with an old T-shirt or flour sack towel, or any cotton product that's completely smooth.
Maintaining those summer curls can require extra product, raising the specter of crunchy curls. If your curls dry intact but with the consistency of plastic, Anderson suggests lightly scrunching them in your palm — once your hair is dry, and not a minute before — to loosen up the product while keeping its hold.
Your curls tend to come in tighter coils, and some stylists treat them like any other curly look. But word to the wise: The natural style that many are embracing is not exactly low maintenance, says Lynda Barr at Sista Rise 'N Shine in Brandon.
Nothing is as easy as braids, she says, which many of her clients put in before leaving for a vacation. When they come home, they'll often try out another style.
"We change all the time," she says, adding that some women take a completely no-fuss approach to enjoy the beach and pool. "Some of my clients will go to a wig."
If you relax your hair, you don't have to worry about frizz, Barr says. But watch out for the sun, which can make hair that's already dry from the treatment extra brittle, especially if you also color your hair. Moisturize often with conditioners and oils.
Surviving the elements (more stuff to worry about):
What's not to love about a cooling dip in the pool or ocean? What it can do to your hair.
Chlorine and saltwater can leave even healthy locks a dry, tangled mess. And if you color, pool chemicals can strip the hue right out. Even gray hair isn't immune, stylists say. Chlorine can give gray — as well as blond — a greenish tint.
What can you do? For starters, rinse clean water through your hair before you get into the water, as well as when you get out, suggests Anderson of Live Curly Live Free Salon. This will keep your hair from absorbing so much of the harmful pool and ocean water.
Bonus for lap swimmers: If you have trouble stuffing thick, curly hair into a cap, rinse your hair first and you'll find it easier.
Another idea: Before hitting the beach, work conditioner through your hair, and wrap it up in a loose bun or updo, says Moon of LolaJane's Beauty Lounge. It'll keep your hair out of your face and give you a deep moisturizing treatment.
Does your hair need sunscreen? Many in the style industry think so.
At Tampa's Level SalonSpa, Ward recommends protecting your hair from the sun's harmful UV rays — just like you would protect your skin. This summer, you'll find a bunch of hair products on the market touting sunscreens to help guard against hair lightening and fading.
Skeptical about opening your wallet for yet another product? You probably don't have to. A wide-brimmed hat would protect your hair — and your face.