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Aug 5, 2008

No More Bad Hair Days

It's one of the few drawbacks of summer: Hair sometimes gets annoyingly out of control. The season's major threats — sun, heat, and humidity, not to mention chlorine and salt water — challenge all hair types, from curly to wavy to straight. The hair pros' secret to lowering the hassle quotient? Make the most of what you've got. That means not forcing tight ringlets to relax, or trying to coax waves out of stick-straight strands. Here's your personalized plan for a summer of carefree hair days.If your hair is ... curly
It's keeping curls under control — even when humidity swells the cuticle, causing curls to look frizzy and frazzled. Curls are also more prone to dryness, since they're exposed to the elements from all angles. That's why you'll need heavier conditioning to stay soft and fuzz-free.

In the shower: Space out shampooing or use conditioner alone, since even the gentlest suds can be drying. "Your hair will look healthier and less frizzy the less you agitate it," says Los Angeles hairstylist Stephanie Pohl. When you lather up, use a shampoo with a smoothing ingredient like silicone (or any ending in "-icone"). Try Kérastase Bain Oléo-Relax ($32, kerastase.com). Follow up with a curl conditioner like Pantene Pro-V Hydrating Curls Conditioner ($4, drugstores), and don't rinse it out fully to give hair a mini leave-in treatment.

Styling secrets: Gently towel-squeeze hair to remove water, then mix up this "stylists' special": three parts anti-frizz cream and one part serum. Use your fingers to twirl it down the hair shaft to the ends, working in one-inch sections. Dab a little at the hairline and roots, then air-dry. Try Dove Frizz Control Therapy Taming Cream ($3.78, drugstores) mixed with Göt2b Smooth Operator Smoothing Satin Drops ($8, drugstores). For frizzier spirals or on supersteamy days, use an anti-humidity cocktail of equal parts leave-in conditioner, medium-hold gel, and serum instead, suggests Los Angeles hairstylist Jonathan Hanousek.

In the salon: Be sure your stylist is a curly-hair specialist — most salons have one or more. And keep hair at least shoulder-length, with long layers: "You need length and weight to prevent hair from looking too puffy or mushroomlike," explains New York City salon owner Lisa Chiccine. Short layers, or none at all, add to the puffiness problem. It's also a good idea to have your hair snipped when it's dry, so your stylist can see exactly how your curls lie and what happens to them after each pass of the scissors. (Curly hair shrinks dramatically as it dries, so wet cutting ups the chance of too-short surprises.)

Emergency fix-it: "There's no better way to combat out-of-control curls when you're on the go than hand cream," says Hanousek. Simply rub a dollop between your hands and run them lightly over your 'do to moisturize hair and smooth fly aways.