How to Deal with Long Hair in the Summer

Catherine Q. O'Neill, Allure magazine

Long hair, don't care? Maybe for Lil' Wayne, but the rest of us face a dilemma when the weather heats up: Ditch our length-or deal with three months of heavy, frizzy strands? And while the New York humidity can be a lot to deal with, I'm not ready to shave an undercut or buzz my head (call me when I have Charlize Theron's bone structure). So I talked to London hairstylist Michael Van Clarke, owner of the "3 More Inches" haircare line, for his tips on managing my thick, weighty hair in the summer.

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Layer It

If you're wearing your hair all one length, that's your first mistake (noted!). Ask your hairstylist to keep the length but cut long, loose layers in the front and back to reduce bulk. "The haircut is fundamental. If you don't have the right cut, it will work against any style you try to do," Van Clarke says.

Protect It

If your hair is past your shoulders, it took at least two and a half years to grow. That's a long time to regrow hair that's been damaged from sun and chlorine (which can break down the hair). Van Clarke recommends applying a leave-in conditioner (I like his "3 More Inches" Pre-Wash Treatment). Apply it to dry hair in the morning, tie it up into a knot, and consider covering hair with a hat or scarf for total sun protection.

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Braid It

Van Clarke loves braids, or "plaits" as they call them in England, for reducing the weight of hair in the summer. For a braided headband, pick up a small amount of hair from your side part, divide into three sections, and French braid toward your ear, pinning in place at the nape of the neck. Or, if you want your hair totally off your back, consider a side fishtail braid, which looks edgier than a standard side-braid. Gather hair over one shoulder, divide in two sections, and take a small piece from the outside of one section, layer it over the top of the other section, and repeat on both sides until you reach the ends. Or, mimic a look at New York Fashion Week, and braid the underside of your hair to really take the weight off. Just grab a section of hair from underneath your ear, French braid across, and pin underneath. Either leave hair down or pull it up into a bun or ponytail to finish the look.

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How do you deal with your long hair in the summer? Do you just give up and chop off your strands? Or are you looking at a whole season of boring ponytails ahead?


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