Summertime is the perfect time of year to experiment, make a fresh start, or even opt for a shorter cut. Four professional hair stylists weigh in on what to look for in a summer hairstyle—and what to leave for colder weather.
Go for a softer cut and avoid blunt cuts
Summer hair is all about easy, breezy, low-maintenance hair. Look for a hairstyle that captures natural movement.
“As the seasons change, our haircuts should also transform and translate into the moods that we’re in,” says Toronto-based hairdresser June Croken—a strong advocate for seasonal haircuts. “In spring and summer, you soften up that blunt, bold line [from your winter haircut] so there is a little bit more movement and ‘air conditioning’ in there, some texture, some fluidity.” (To achieve a ‘softer perimeter’, stylists will use razors or blending shears to remove weight from your hair.)
Ask your stylist to cut your ends softer rather than straight across for an effortless look.
Go with the flow, and let your natural hair texture shine
Summer weather encourages natural textures, so if your hair is wavy, for example, you might find the humidity adding extra curl. Rather than fight your hair when you style it (who wants to use a hot flat iron when it’s already hot outside?), Pantene consulting stylist and Toronto’s BANG Salon stylist Justin German advises you to go for a natural look.
“I’m going to be looking for haircuts that are either giving me layers so I can play up those imperfections in my hair, or if I have curly hair, to bring out the curl,” says German. Make sure you consult with your stylist about what will work best for your hair.
Hold out on the bangs, or at least go for side fringe
“Most people, once they get to spring, they’re really, really craving that change because they’ve been bundled up so much,” says Croken. She recommends you resist the urge.
Front-facing bangs will stick to your face when you sweat, Croken says. Moreover, a fringe requires extra styling when you wake up, and the summer humidity will undo your effort in no time. It’s best to keep it for the fall.
If you must have bangs, Karen Vu, the assistant art director and a hair cutter at Toronto’s Sassoon Salon, advises against bangs that rest “right below your eyes or above that” and advocates for side fringe. For example, Vancouver based hairstylist Sarmad Najem gives his clients longer, shaggy bangs that frame their faces instead of resting on their foreheads.
You can push shaggier bangs to the sides of your face, which makes heat more bearable.
Open up your face with more layers
“A summer haircut will have shorter layers, that’s about four inches from the perimeter from whatever length a person has. If you go a little shorter than that, it sometimes makes the hair look mullet-y, which is not desirable,” says Croken. Layers will frame your face and help prevent heavy hair from weighing you down in the heat.
Try a textured lob — it’s trendy and actually works for most hair types
When it comes to the trendy lob (a longer take on a classic short bob, falling right around the collarbone instead of the jawline), Vu says, “It is long enough and short enough for long-haired girls.”
Texturing (as opposed to layering) is when stylists cut bits of hair shorter to break up a blunt cut, making it look more perfectly undone. You can also achieve a textured look with products, such as Davines Texturizing Dust, which Vu recommends. By spreading these products through your hair, they create volume and the illusion of a textured cut. German adds that undone and textured haircuts “look good on pretty much everybody.”
“Even on someone who has curlier hair, that longer length kind of just lends to that so it wouldn’t look triangular or super wide at the bottom,” says German. “Again, the whole thing about it is it can be styled whether you want it to look really clean and edgy — it can be blown out and flat ironed — or if you want to wear it more natural, it is meant to not look perfect.
Lob length hair will allow you to wait a whole season before requiring a new haircut. Shorter hair requires frequent touchups.
Skip the red hair dye, for now
Najem points out that red is already a notoriously difficult colour to maintain. Add in chlorine and sun, and you may find yourself struggling to keep it from turning a faded orange.
Brighten up your hair with balayage
Balayage is the textured haircut of hair colouring – with colour fading out from your roots, “it looks effortless,” says German. Stylists use freehand technique (versus using foil guides), allowing them to customize the colouring to their clients’ hair colour and haircuts. Since hair tends to naturally brighten in the summer, balayage enhances the natural changes so that the style looks almost as if your hair just grew out that way.
“Most of my clients, they have dark hair. When I do the sun-kissed balayage for them and it is blended into their roots, they can leave their hair for 8 months and not come into the salon,” says Najem. In other words, balayage is the perfect low-maintenance colour for a season when you’d rather be on vacation than at the hairdresser.
But balayage can mean, Vu says, that your hair will be drier than usual at the ends, so be sure to invest in a leave-in conditioner.
Balayage fades more naturally into your roots, so you can avoid tedious root touchups.
Finally, how to combat humidity
Once you have the perfect cut and colour, make sure your hair is happy and healthy. Make sure you shampoo and condition it to keep it hydrated, and German recommends spraying it with a detangling spray, such as the Pantene Moisture Renewal Mist Detangling Spray, after you shower.
When the humidity does make your hair frizzier, Vu swears by the Kérastase Fluidissime spray, which also adds shine and leaves your hair looking super healthy.