Summer is often associated with many things: the beach, grilling, and generally spending as much time outdoors as is possible. But for those with longer hair, it can often mean various iterations of frizziness, flyaways, and frustration over just how to manage summer hair. To combat these feelings, we turn to braids, which are great for beating humidity and other elements of an active, summer lifestyle that can wreak havoc on your head.
If you’re active in the summer and spend a good portion of your time outdoors, there’s a high probability that your hair will have a lot of irregular waves and texture. Read on as we go through six easy tips for summer braids.
1. Pay attention to your hair
One of the best things about braids is that they often look best when hair isn’t newly clean – in summer, this is definitely a good thing. Take advantage of the irregular waves and texture that are a byproduct of the elements, and don’t feel that your hair needs to be clean in order to work with braids. If it is freshly washed and dried, then simply add any number of texturizing sprays for volume and friction. In addition to noting the quality of your hair, also think about the quantity. If you have long, thick hair, then pursue thicker braids; and vice versa.
2. Know the basics
Though braiding can initially seem complex, most braids often begin with a simple, standard braid or a French braid. To begin a French braid, start by brushing your hair free of any tangles or knots, and use your fingers to separate a two-inch section of hair from the hairline to the crown. Use your fingers to divide the piece into three equal sections and begin by crossing the strand in your right hand over the strand in the middle. The right strand should now be the middle strand. Next, cross the left strand over the middle strand, and the middle strand should now be the left strand.
3. Pull it tight
Though summer hairstyles are typically characterized by being loose and a little untamed — something we definitely encourage — it’s important to start with a tight foundation. Remember, no matter what style you choose for your summer braid, you should always aim to keep it tight as you go through the braiding process. Why? It’s simple, really: You can always loosen the braid later, but you can’t tighten it. By starting with it tight, you won’t be forced to clean up your hairstyle as you go, or to rely on bobby pins to maintain order. Once your styling is complete, gently pull apart the braided sections to add substance.
4. Don’t be afraid to get messy
It’s one thing to begin with a tight braid, and it’s another thing to abandon all hope entirely once a hairstyle starts to veer toward slightly messy. Wish your braid was a little tighter? Dissatisfied that you missed some loose hairs, and that your efforts are looking kind of bumpy thus far? Don’t give up! If anything, these small imperfections can help to make the hairstyle a bit more effortless — never a bad thing when you’re aiming to look casual on the beach.
5. Maintain moisture
As with many summer hairstyles, maintaining moisture is important. To help compensate for naturally occurring moisture loss during the summer and prevent breakage, aim for products that are designed to provide freshness and moisture. Add some coconut oil to your hair for natural moisture and shine, or stick to bottled elixirs with oil that provide sun-damaged hair with moisture, and apply them to wet or dry hair.
6. Be creative
Once you’ve figured out braid basics, there are a myriad of summer looks you can take on to keep your hair out of your face and frizz-free. For several comprehensive examples, check out these selections, which vary in degrees of difficulty and messiness. Other examples of looks we love can be found here, here, here, and here.