The 5 Best Hair Styling Hacks for Surviving DC’s Crazy Summer Humidity

Photography via iStock.

As we enter the final stretch of summer, hair care hits a wall: after months of sunshine, swimming pools, and ponytails, tresses aren’t exactly in their healthiest state. The heat and humidity begin to peak, and locks begin to droop and dry out. How is one to keep those oh-so-trendy loose curls and sleek bobs in shape? We asked area experts for their best tips and tricks.

Layer your product.

Even the most expensive products can’t save us from the havoc of the mid-Atlantic’s late-summer heat. However, layering in quality product can help keep your coif in control, according to Billy Maloy of Takoma Park’s Scissor & Comb.

“If you are trying to keep your hair straight there are a few products that work really well,” Maloy says. “First, when you are blow drying your hair straight, take a product like R+CO Foil or Oribe Imperméable and spray it in while hair is wet, then blow dry it into your locks—imagine you are kind of ‘baking’ the product in. Afterwards you can flat iron or style as normal, and then re-coat with product. You are trying to get as much protection from moisture as you can.”

Make your own DIY frizz prevention.

If you have wavy hair, the best thing to do is to leave conditioner in it—just a trace but enough to detangle your hair—then apply your styling product on top of that and let it dry naturally. A trick many people like to use during the summertime is to put a little bit of conditioner in a spray bottle,” says Michael Canale of Georgetown’s Canale Salon. “Use about a tablespoon of your favorite hair conditioner to eight ounces of water, then shake it up to combine, and use as a mist. Don’t spray too close to the roots, stick to the mid-length to the ends. The moisture will give hair enough weight to keep it calm.”

Chose pomade over hairspray.

As tempting as it can be when you can feel your carefully placed braid or perfectly rolled bun sliding out of place, don’t go crazy with the hairspray. Not only will it not help drooping locks, but it will leave hair with a broken texture. Instead, look to your new friend pomade.

“A very light pomade will keep flyaways down and your styling in place,” Canale Salon’s James Williams says. “Hairspray can work great under the right circumstances, but if you are touching your hair or brushing up against other commuters it can break up and stop working, whereas pomade never truly dries. Instead, it will stay tacky in the hair, which will help you more in situations of extreme humidity. I like something like Kérastase K Short Mania Sculpting Paste, but recommend using sparingly.”

Dry shampoos work—when properly applied.

Dry shampoo may seem like the ultimate summer savior, and indeed, it can be a powerful ally not just for unwashed hair, but in mitigating sweat. “Dry shampoos are really good for the summer because they they absorb the natural oils of the scalp, but only use them at the scalp,” Maloy says. “If you use a dry shampoo on your ends and then the humidity hits it, it’s going to become matted. There is a new dry shampoo that R+CO does called Trophy that has a shine to it and is really good for styling second-day messy hair. The Death Valley Dry Shampoo is also very good—nice and light and it doesn’t show up. Remember to shake both thoroughly before using.”

Practice common sense hair care.

Stay away from mousses and gels with alcohol in them and only use sulfate-free conditioner (this is especially important during the summertime when hair needs to be washed more frequently). Invest in a quality brush to minimize breakage, and use heat protection before you use a blow dryer or styling iron. While the idea is to maintain moisture in your hair so that the outside humidity doesn’t affect it, not all types of hydration are good. Consider the chemicals in your tap water if you are noticing unusually brittle hair.

“If you live in DC one of the first things I tell everybody is: go to the store and get a Brita filter showerhead,” says Maloy. “There are so many chemicals in the water here and a filter will prevent your hair from absorbing dehydrating and stripping chemicals. I noticed when I moved to DC my hair and skin were dryer, and that I needed to use more moisturizer.”

Assistant Editor

Hayley is an Associate Editor at Washingtonian Weddings. Previously she was the the Style Editor at The Local Palate, a Southern food culture magazine based out of Charleston, South Carolina. You can follow her on instagram @wandertaste.