The Ultimate Men’s Summer Hair Styling and Grooming Guide

We consulted with an expert hair stylist for tips on keeping hair healthy, hydrated and well-coiffed all season long

July 11, 2024 6:32 am
These are the products you need to manage those locks for summer
The products you need to manage those summer locks.
Product photos courtesy of brands

With the long hours of sunshine, high humidity levels, beach activities and outdoor soirees, hair grooming in the summer differs from the cooler months. The season is ripe for al fresco adventures, but through all the travel, swimming and inevitable sweating, you want to maintain a cool hairstyle while protecting your follicles. We consulted with Chrissie Schwalje, owner of Parlor Hair Studio in Montclair, NJ, to get expert advice on how men can protect their hair from the sun, choose the best styling products and maintain overall hair health. 

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With more than 20 years of experience in cutting and styling hair, Schwalje is a seasoned hair and grooming expert. “When styling or grooming men’s hair in the summer, several factors need to be considered: humidity levels, curl or texture control, potential scalp sunburn, managing longer hair, and frequent transitions in and out of the water,” she says. Despite these considerations, the main objective for most guys remains the same: “to keep the hair hydrated and choose products that allow easy application and reapplication. While enjoying the season should be your focus, it is essential to maintain good care of your hair and scalp so that you look good while doing it,” she adds. The advice below aims to cast a wide summer hair grooming net with specific examples every guy could use. 

Hair Prep

Prepping your hair before styling is equally as important in the summer months. “When dealing with humidity and frizz and even with relatively short hair, you must consider how it will react to warm weather,” Schwalje says. “Start with a solid cleansing care regime to ensure enough moisture penetrates your follicles. A good cleansing cream is recommended year-round but is especially beneficial during summer months, as it locks in moisture and avoids over-stripping the hair of its valuable natural oils. After a gentle towel dry (blotting and squeezing, not using excess friction), apply a leave-in conditioner, preferably something with a UV filter.”

Apply Styling Product

Overall, Schwalje advises you to “avoid using anything too shiny or greasy, as these products attract heat to your scalp. Matte products are best in the summer.”

Sea Salt Spray

This is the season where sea salt spray shines, as it creates that sought-after “just out of bed” look that speaks to the summer beach season. “It adds volume, texture and a thicker feel to all hair types,” Schwalje says. “It helps any style hold up all day no matter what you’re doing; because of the grittiness it adds, it helps give the hair some rigidity and style memory. For shorter hair, spray it in, comb through it and blow dry it into shape. For longer hair, spray and leave it to air dry or diffuse. For curlier hair, twist or scrunch out the spray in your hair to help enhance your waves. Once the hair is dry, you can tousle and separate the strands to bring out the hair’s natural texture.”

Paste and Pomade

Pastes and pomades can be used year-round, but choosing one with a matte texture is key in the summer. “Pomades and pastes can vary in texture and viscosity, so I tend to pick one that is more matte and movable,” Schwalje says. “Anything too greasy or shiny will typically not hold up to what the summer dishes out, such as heat and humidity. These products can be used on any hair type and texture to add style memory without weighing your hair down.”

Texturizing Powder

A texturizing powder works great to give hair more volume and absorb oil for finer hair. “Powders give weightless volume and texture to short or mid hair lengths,” Schwaje says. “They are especially good for guys who are thinning, as they can provide the illusion of plumped-up, thicker hair. Guys with longer hair can also use texture powder at the root to refresh limp styles and absorb sweat or moisture.” Sprinkle powder into your hair and massage in to achieve a textured style. 

Grooming Cream

A grooming cream provides a lightweight, natural, flexible hold without weighing the hair down, perfect for relaxed mid-length and longer hairstyles. ‘When you want a natural air-dry finish but with the professional polish, I use a grooming cream, as it adds just the right amount of weight and texture,” Schwalje says. “It is easy to apply and reapply as needed, and it doesn’t build up like other products on the market; the hair loves to absorb it and allows you to layer it throughout the day or refresh your next-day hair. Apply where needed to smooth frizz, add shine and revive curls.”

Product Tips for Longer Hair Styles

Mid-Length Curl: “This style requires extra moisturizing and strength for a curly texture,” Schwalje says. “I like a styling cream to help control the curls but maintain natural softness. A grooming cream will provide a smooth, touchable finish, while the added oils help protect against damage and lock in moisture.”

Long Waves: “When dealing with curly waves, a good-quality cream is your best friend,” Schwalje says. “And remember, more is more. I often see people apply way too little product to their curls. It is best to work in sections and apply a good dollop to each one. I always loved Aveda’s Be Curly line, but their new Be Curl Advanced line is exceptional. It is silicone-free, reduces frizz and adds shine.

Long Dreads: Longer dreads can hold in some extra moisture and humidity in the summer and require extra maintenance. “In the summer, this style requires a bit extra TLC,” Schwalje says. “Excess moisture can aid bacteria growth, so using a refresher spray can help. The essential oils help prevent odor while the aloe moisturizes and conditions.”

Long, Fine Hair: Fine hair tends to get oily and show more sweat than thicker hair, so “using a texturizing powder will help absorb extra sweat and oil and provide more volume,” Schwalje says. “Tie it a ponytail or bun when swimming to minimize tangles and prevent damage.”

Extra Summer Hair Grooming Tips

Swimming: There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself in chlorinated, fresh or salt water this summer. “Protect your follicles longer by entering the pool with wet hair and rinsing immediately afterward, followed by a leave-in conditioner with SPF,” Schwalje says. “This is ideal for during and after sun exposure. Follow your rinse and leave-in conditioner with the same styling regime listed above.”

Sun Index: “If you have ever got sunburn on your skin, you know how uncomfortable it can be, so apply sunscreen designed for your hair,” Schwalje says. “This is especially essential for men with thinning hair or sparse areas where the scalp peeks through. An invisible and lightweight sunscreen powder or spray sans a greasy feel is ideal. Reapply as needed throughout the day and after swimming.”

Combat Sweating: Yes, your scalp will sweat more and transfer into your hair. “Use a product, such as dry shampoo powder, that will soak up sweat and moisture in the hair while adding texture and volume,” Schwalje says.

Wet Styling: “This is probably the easiest summer hairstyle to rock,” Schwalje says. “If your hair is cut short to medium in length and can be combed into a groomed shape, preferably with a side part, use a strong hold gel to set that look. I love Kevin Murphy because while it’s super firm in its hold, it has a rubbery, non-crispy feel. It is also excellent for curly textures.”

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