It’s summer, summer, summertime *cues the identically titled Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff track*. Now is the time for mimosa-filled Sunday brunches, poolside lounging, and spontaneous beach trips. There’s a collective exhilaration that marks the start of each summer, which you can (and should) consider a reminder to live your best life.
And you know what you don’t want to associate your summer memories with months from now: bad hair days that kept you from fully relishing in your adventures. Hair plays a part in cultural identity and self-expression for Black women. Styling your hair can also get burdensome, and you deserve to have a carefree summer. This season, your hair can be a source of joy rather than frustration. Here are eight of the hottest summer hairstyles to help you make some sweet new memories while looking gorgeous. (Related: Fun, Short Natural Hairstyles to Change Up Your Look)
Twist-outs are a favorite in the natural hair community and they’re practically effortless. Simply part your hair into however many sections you want and apply a twisting cream, such as Alikay Naturals Lemongrass Super Twisting Butter (Buy It, $15, target.com), to each section. (Start with more sections to achieve big voluminous waves or less for uniform crimps and coils.) From there, you separate each section into two parts that you will continuously twist around each other, creating a two-strand twist. Depending on your hair texture, you may not need anything to secure your ends as your hair will curl around itself, keeping the twist in place. If you find your twist unraveling, secure the ends with either a spiral roller, which you can grab from Target (Buy It, $15, target.com), or a rubber band. The great thing about a twist-out is that you get two styles in one. You can rock your hair with your two-strand twist in, and then, you can let your hair loose and wear your curls out once you decide to unravel the twist. Once you take the twist out, you can leave your hair super defined or you can pick it out for maximum volume. If you need more detailed instructions with some visual cues, check out this tutorial.
Butterfly locs are one of the latest variations of faux locs — a commitment-free alternative to traditionally locking your natural hair using extensions. What differentiates butterfly locs from other faux loc styles are their looping distressed patterns along the length of each loc that resembles butterfly wings (hence the name). Many wear them in a shoulder-length bob, but if you want tresses that sling down to your booty then that’s completely your business, sis. This style is ideal for the summer because it completely covers your hair with the extensions, protecting it from sun damage and giving it a break from over manipulation.
Short passion twist
Passion twists are shaping up to be one of the hottest protective hairstyles of the year. Created by Miami-based stylist Kailyn Rogers in 2018, this style looks similar to goddess locs and gives summer bohemian beach vibes. Short passion twists have recently become a favorite with celebrities such as KeKe Palmer, who sported them in a July 2020 Instagram post. This style is perfect for the summer because not only do you get a boho aesthetic, but you also can stay cool with shoulder-length twists that don’t feel like they’re attracting all the summer heat. There are many methods to doing short passion twists, but here is a popular tutorial that shows two ways to easily achieve this look.
You may think of this style as a throwback to Alicia Keys circa 2001, but cornrows far outdate the R&B icon. Cornrows date to ancient African empires and tribes from as far back as 3000 B.C.E., according to Ebony. Braided extensions (including feed-in braids, which are when stylists literally feed extensions into braids to give it the desired length) specifically have been around since the Egyptian empire. They have remained an integral part of many cultures within Africa as a way to signify different societal measures such as wealth, marital status, and religion, and their prominence in Black American culture dates back to the time of slavery. Modern legends including Beyoncé, Cicely Tyson, and Zendaya have all adorned their heads with crowns of braids. You too can be a part of the evolution of cornrows (not “boxer braids,” a new term for a historied hairstyle popularized by non-Black influencers and celebrities) by getting creative with different braided patterns and designs this summer.
Pineapple a.k.a. fineapple
A pineapple — also known as a “fineapple” because this hairstyle makes anyone look too fine — is one of the best summer hairstyles for natural hair. All you do is pull your hair up into a loose pony/puff at the very top of your hair and let the curls, coils, and waves do their thing. This is a minimal-effort hairstyle, making it ideal if you have a packed summer schedule. It’s meant to be easy on your edges, so resist using any tight hair ties. If you want to dress your fineapple up a little, just grab a headscarf and wrap it like a loose headband around the base of your head and give your baby hairs a few swoops here and there. (Related: The Best Black Natural Hair Influencers to Follow for Styling Tips, Tutorials, and More)
Jumbo Knotless Box Braids
Singer and songwriter Jhené Aiko and hip hop artist Coi Leray have become the queens of this style over the past year. Knotless box braids are a “friendlier” version of the traditional box braids, since they don’t have a tight knot at the base. Because of this, they make for the perfect style to protect your hair while looking super trendy. The main perk of bigger knotless braids is that they take much less time to do, so you can spend less of your summer hours sitting in a stylist’s chair (or standing in front of your bathroom mirror if you opt for a DIY look), and more time actually enjoying your summer! (For more inspiration, here’s how Beyoncé and Skai Jackson have styled theirs.)
Long Braided Pony
If you’ve always imagined having a Rapunzel-like ponytail, then the long braided pony is for you. The likes of Solange Knowles and Queen Bey have worn extravagant versions of this style, with a single braid pulled up into a ponytail, gracefully trailing the length of their frames. Get a pack of the longest braiding hair you can find at your beauty supply store, some rubber bands, and a hair spray such as Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Hair Spray (Buy It, $5, target.com), and you’re well on your way. It’s easy enough that you could do it yourself at home with a few YouTube tutorials, but it’s also doable with a quick and easy salon visit. Your hair is safely tucked away and it’s out of your face — a bonus when you have summer plans!
Space puffs are the Black girl remix of space buns, and they’re arguably one of the easiest hairstyles to pull off this summer. Imagine Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls, but Black and with puffs instead of pigtails. To try them, just create two puffballs with hair ties of your choice right on on each side of the top of your head. Natural hair influencer Kia Marie has rocked this style a few times (here’s an example). Space puffs happen to be a great style for summer sweat sessions — take it from Tracee Ellis Ross.