Heat Free Summer


This summer I had a little bet with myself. I decided to try and go 3 whole months without applying heat to my hair. That means no blow dryer, flat iron or curling wand. It’s hard to unplug.

I did this for two reasons:

  1. It’s HOT in Los Angeles this time of year. I really can’t stand the heat on my neck when it’s super hot.
  2. Because I lightened it a bit and I thought maybe my color-treated hair could use a break from hot styling.

So, I cropped my longish hair into a chin length bob, had a keratin treatment and that was that. Except it wasn’t. I keep having to learn that shorter hair doesn’t necessarily mean less maintenance. Call it “Bangs Theory.” You have to DO SOMETHING with shorter hair. And it’s really HARD to quit hot styling cold turkey.

My hair is naturally frizzy (not wavy, not curly...frizzy). And I hate it. It gets in my face and it distracts me. So my go-to has always been to slick it back into a ponytail and call it a day.

But pony tails get boring and after awhile, you kind of want to let your hair down! Queue the blow dryer! I resisted the temptation to grab my hot air styling brush by assembling an arsenal of tools to get me through a scorching summer without heat.

I’ll cop to caving into my blow dryer a couple of times and I brought out my old Richard Caruso Steam rollers for a few parties, but that’s it! I’ve gone (almost) completely heat free for nearly 2 months now and I love it.

But forgoing heat isn’t easy. First of all, you need the right products to achieve that French Girl, artfully messy, “I-Just-Woke-Up-This-Way" look.Maybe YOUR hair naturally dries into a waterfall of glossy straightness or morphs into soft beach-y waves (in which case, lucky you). That’s not my deal. I need product to air-dry.

Here’s how I’m doing it:

  1. A Good Shampoo. Never underestimate the power of a good shampoo. The right one can add volume or much needed moisture, depending on your needs and if you get washing right, you’re halfway there.
  2. Conditioner. Duh. Always, but here’s the thing, you need one that suits your hair type. You need a lighter one with rinse-ability for fine hair and a heavier, moisture rich one for thick & curly hair types. Use it in the shower and comb through with a wide tooth comb. Let it sit there while you shave your legs or whatever and finish with cool rinse. Always concentrate on the ends!
  3. Hair Oil! Hair oil isn’t as scary as it sounds. A good one will not only add much need moisture to parched ends, it will impart shine and keep your scalp healthy, too. TIP: Add to ends at night and brush through or work a few drops into your scalp prior to shampooing to boost moisture and keep your hair from getting too dry.
  4. Finishing Cream. It’s like rinse out conditioner, but heavier in texture. Use it to tame frizzy flyaways, define curls and also to seal the ends. It’s also acts a heat shield for those times when you need to apply some heat!
  5. Hair Wax. I broke my decades-long hair gel habit after discovering organic hair wax. Most hair gels are alcohol based (and super drying). The one I like is more like a paste in consistency. It holds well with the added benefit of actually being good for your hair!
  6. Proper hair elastics. Don’t even think about using a rubber band! If you have fine hair you can use the new satin scrunchies or elastic ribbon ties. For me, there is only one kind of hair elastic that holds securely without damaging my hair: Scunci. I use two at a time to secure my damp hair into a pony. I do a high topknot for volume and lift, or slick it into a low tight ponytail for taming frizz without heat.
  7. French Hairpins. These are like bobby-pins with looks and money. Used universally backstage at every fashion show, they anchor even long hair into a super secure, chignon (that’s a bun in fashion terms) with just a pair. This is my go-to hair style if I’m running late or want my fuzzy hair out of my face. Sometimes I split my damp ponytail into sections to wind them up and secure by day, then wear it down in the evening with wavy ends.
  8. A good comb and hairbrush: Hands down, the best of the best is Mason Pearson. I use the dressing comb to work product through while my hair is wet and the nylon bristle versions to slick my back into a pony or bun. The special pneumatic pad means I never scratch or snap my hair, no matter how hard I pull!
  9. Extra lift: If I have time, I sometimes use a few Velcro rollers to allow my hair to dry a bit smoother with some body and bounce.
  10. Cheat Day (with some applied heat): Have you heard of ionic steam rollers? They are a product of the 90s and they use steam to press curls into shape. Here’s the thing, though, they don’t damage your hair the way high heat does AND the curls last FOREVER. I smooth a bit of finishing cream onto my ends and then roll each section on the roller and clip. In 5-10 minutes, I take them out and voila! Big curls for days, minus the damaging heat. It’s like a steam treatment for your ends.

You don’t have to go the whole summer to reap the benefits of less hot styling. Even a day or two off a week will make a difference to over-styled hair and dryness. The idea here is to rely less upon applied heat and give you (and your hair) a much needed summer break.

Channel your inner Mermaid and unplug!