Summerproof your curly hair with a celebrity stylist's expert tips

Canadian hair stylist Janet Jackson breaks down the do’s and don'ts for healthy, gorgeous curls this season.

Canadian hair stylist Janet Jackson breaks down the do’s and don'ts for healthy, gorgeous curls this season

(Credit: Tetra images RF/Getty Images)

Ahh the joys of summer hair! Shrinkage, frizz and big, big, volume — not in the good way. If you have curly hair you know that life all too well. While we want to let our curls flourish and be free during the summer, the sun, humidity, and chlorine from lazy pool days can leave our twists worse for wear. 

This is a time to lean on some expert advice. We reached out to celebrity stylist Janet Jackson who has coiffed the curls of Keshia Chante, Kreesha Turner and many more. Freshly back from Essence's beauty carnival, the Maui Moisture ambassador, salon owner and curly hair pro shares how to get the best out of your curls this summer.

First, really get to know your curls

"Every curl type has different needs," says Jackson. "By figuring out what your curl type is, you will understand what products and techniques to use in order to get your best curl."

Getting a good grasp of what curl type you have is easier said than done, because our hair actually changes, for example, if you've gone through some type of hormonal change (like pregnancy). Summer may be the only time some let their natural curls flow, making it the ideal time to get to know your curls again and properly assess your curl pattern.

Jackson says a good place to start is to reference the curl type chart, to help you identify your curls. Originally created by Andre Walker (Oprah's hair stylist) this chart breaks down curls into types and subtypes. The chart has been updated over time to add a 4C category; you'll also see versions starting with 4C as many in the natural hair community say the original promotes a kind of hair hierarchy, elevating straighter hair. Newer charts also often include real-life examples of each curl type. Jackson notes that it's quite common for people to fall into more than one category.


Hair porosity is your hair's ability to absorb moisture, and to hold on to it. Regardless of whether your hair is porous or not, the summer heat tends to suck moisture from hair... which leads to the dreaded shrinkage! Not to mention dry, dull, crunchy locks that are more prone to breakage. Jackson says that curls need serious hydration to keep them healthy, especially if you're mainly doing wash-and-go routine. After drenching your strands make sure you're using the right products to add moisture. "To do so you need ingredients like glycerin and agave nectar — ideally in a deep conditioner or a mask; use it once a week, or once every 2 weeks to smooth, heal and quench your curls." Pay close attention to the top of your head as it tends to get the frizziest. Another tip from Jackson, for when you're refreshing curls: "put a few drops of your favourite oil into your spray water bottle. This will soften the water so it doesn't dry out your hair."

...and seal in moisture

Adding moisture is one thing but with all this summer heat, how do we prevent water loss? To seal in adequate levels of moisture in your hair, Jackson says to use oils. "Conditioning agents, ingredients like Shea butter, coconut oil, macadamia oil, are key." They help with moisture retention, soften curls and reduce frizz! "Look for something light enough to use daily if needed like Maui Moisture's coconut milk spray." 

For more defined curls this summer, Jackson recommends the following product types for each category: curl mousse or creams for 2a - 2c; curl creams or light gels for 3a-3c, curl gels or butters for 4a-4c.

Final word on summer styling and maintaining curly hair

As a final note Jackson stresses that we should not try to achieve someone else's curl; rather, that we should love our hair and aim to get the best of our curls. "Be prepared to experiment with different products. When testing the efficacy of a product, use it individually, don't mix it with other products, so you can see if it really works for you. Be sure to take hair notes of the results!"

Nneka Elliott (@nnekaelliott) is a lifestyle blogger, host and actor. She shares her adventures with fashion and beauty in her pursuit of a gutsy life.