The new black

Never mind summer lovin', it's summer hair that's the real cause of angst. Just as your skin gets in tiptop condition, glowing visibly with every minute of sunshine, your hair wilts. There are plenty of topical treatments that protect your hair from the sun, heat and water (the Goldwell LC2 Suncare range is my favourite: stockists, 01323 432100), and it's also worth actually wearing those bandanas you packed.

This year, I haven't been near saltwater or, for that matter, a swimming pool with a heady mix of chlorine and urine - and still, at the end of my holiday, my hair was as frazzled as my bank balance was empty. I realise that it's not just a black hair thing, but the combination of sun and water - or, in my case, just one of the above - really does play havoc with Afro hair, chemically treated or otherwise.

The first step is to resist the temptation to have a "pre-holiday" haircut. It's the ends of your hair that take a battering, and as they are probably a bit worse for wear already, you might as well leave them to fry a little further and then chop off the lot when you return. If you're feeling flash, book yourself in for a hair treatment at the same time as your post-holiday trim, but if, like a normal person, you haven't got two euros to rub together when you get back, opt for a do-it-yourself version.

A cynic might ask why, if your conditioner does its job, you need anything else. But take my word for it, hair masks or treatments really do make a difference. Vital Force Crème Bath, by PhytoSpecific, Phyto 9 by Phyto (020-7620 1771) and All Soft Heavy Cream, by Redken (0800 444880) all work wonders on natural or chemically treated Afro hair. All three melt away tangles, leaving hair feeling nourished, and looking shiny, as opposed to dry and dull. For an extra treat, once you've combed the treatment through, put on a shower cap, cover with a towel and leave for about 10 minutes. Better still, go and sit in a steam room (wearing said cap) - yes, you'll feel stupid, but who looks at people's hair in a steam room?

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