Shannon R., SELF magazine
As humidity levels begin to creep up you may be noticing your hair is feeling a bit more poofy and frizzy. Or, it may just feel like you have frizzy hair all the time! Either way, there a few different reasons hair looks frizzy and there are some (non-damaging!) ways to help ease the frizz.
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What causes frizzy hair?
1. Your natural shape - Hair that grows wavy or curly tends to be more frizzy than hair that grows out straight. Hair shape is primarily determined by the shape of the follicles that the hair grows out of.
2. The condition of your hair - The longer your hair is, the more damaged it is likely to be. Long hair has experienced a lot of brushing, combing and possibly heat and styling damage, which leads to split ends and broken hairs. Once the hair breaks, the shorter stub that remains tends to spring outward uncontrollably. The result - those frizzy pieces that stick out mid-way down your mane and drive you crazy!
3. The environment - Humidity can affect your hair two ways - it can actually make fine, curly hair fall flat and make smooth, straight hair frizz out (of course, it can make already frizzy hair look even frizzier - you just can't win!) So, why does this happen? Well, the inside of your hair, also known as the Cortex, is actually made of two kinds of protein (the Orthocortex and the Paracortex). These two regions are sandwiched together inside your hair. When it's humid, these areas absorb water differently so they don't swell the same. One part may absorb a lot of moisture and swell a lot, while the other stays relatively unchanged. This uneven swelling causes the hair shaft to bend or twist to one side or the other resulting in frizzy hair! Ugh!
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What are the solutions?
While these aren't permanent solutions, they are all non-damaging ways to keep hair looking frizz-free and healthy.
1. Define your curl - With the wide array of styling products available, there are plenty of options to help enhance your wave or curl and also fight the frizz. Products like gels, mousses and curl-enhancing creams all contain ingredients called polymers (usually listed as PVP Copolymer on the label). Polymers coat the hair and "lock" your curl or wave into place. Polymers can also help fight humidity to some degree (though not completely). Styling products are available for all hair types - if your hair is fine and wavy then mousses are your best bet since they don't weigh hair down. If you have coarse and curly hair, then a gel or cream would be best for you.
2. Minimize damage - Be sure to use a conditioner on your ends to keep them smooth and help them "lay" down instead of sticking out. Also, the only way to permanently remove split ends and damage is to cut your hair. Regular trims are a great way to keep hair healthy looking. If your hair is really damaged, you may want to try wearing a shorter hair style to help reduce frizz.
3. Use silicone - Silicone containing products (especially dimethicone) are a great way to lock out humidity and keep hair looking smooth and frizz-free!
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Of course, blow dryers, flat irons and chemical straightening can help you fight the battle of the frizz. Unfortunately, these are all damaging processes which can lead to breakage, split ends and ultimately more frizz (kind of a vicious circle!). Being wavy-haired and frizzy myself, I try to work with what I've got (with the help of conditioners and styling products!) and save the heat appliances for special occasions.
Shannon R., SELF magazine