Whether you have curly hair or straight hair, when the weather gets a little humid the dreaded frizz can puff up your hair faster than you can say 'not again.' Summertime is a wonderful season full of summer BBQs, warm sun, and maybe some swimming but all that sun, sand, heat, hiking, city treks – or whatever you have planned in the summer – isn't good for taming your hair. So, before you reach for a hat to hide under or worry all day about people judging your frizzy hair, here's how to treat frizzy hair and tame those flyaways!
What is frizz?
Frizz is caused when the cuticle (the outer layer of your hair strand) is dry, damaged, or chemically treated and that layer rises instead of being flat and smooth, allowing moisture to enter it, or on the contrary to leave it. This change of moisture meddles with any effort to tame rebellious strands and creates that frizz we all know too well.
Frizz, however, may affect some hair types more than others. Type 3 curly hair and Type 4 coily hair are more prone to frizz because these hair types naturally have a thinner layer of water repellent oils on them. Type 2 wavy and Type 1 straight hair can become frizzy depending on hair porosity, discussed later.
What causes frizz?
Frizz, although sometimes genetic, is generally caused by a lack of moisture in the hair. So, the more hydrated and moisturised your hair is, the less frizzy it will be as the cuticle will lie flat. Flat cuticles mean smooth hair, free from those dastardly flyaways.
Hair is porous which gives hair the ability to absorb water because of the space between cuticles. How frizzy your particular hair will be is determined by how open your hair pores are, which are on the outer layer of your hair strand (or cuticle as it's officially called). Just another reason to curse your pores!
The cuticle protects your hair from damage and determines how much moisture is let in or out of the center of your hair (or cortex, which is the innermost layer).
Think of the cuticle like tree bark with lots of overlapping protective layers. The cuticle layers need the perfect spacing to allow water, oil, and other treatments to get in to nourish the hair (normal porosity). If those layers are too open (high porosity) then moisture can get in, but it doesn't stay in which means your hair will dry out and lack moisture easily.
If your cuticles are tightly sealed (low porosity), you will be less affected by frizz but make sure to drink plenty of water to keep your hair hydrated.
Hair porosity (normal, low, or high) is mostly genetic but is also determined by how well you care for your hair. Curly and coily hair naturally has more raised cuticles.
The relationship between porosity and frizz is that when your hair needs moisture and/or doesn't retain moisture well, it wants to drink any moisture it can get – and generally it'll find that moisture in the air, which is why hair plus humidity (and high porosity) spells disaster and frizz.
Frizz is impacted by the environment (difference of humidity between the hair and the air), the diameter of the hair fiber itself (i.e. thicker hair is more difficult to tame), how curly your hair is, and how damaged your locks are. Split ends can lead to frizz because the hair fibers aren't uniform and aligned properly.
Another factor when treating frizz is the pH of your product as a pH above 7 will raise your cuticle and lead to higher porosity.
The science of frizz
For those who want a more specific explanation, frizz is caused when hydrogen bonds break and re-form. Hair is made of a fibrous protein called keratin and it makes your hair strong and determines its shape (wavy, curly, kinky, straight, and so on). Proteins form a peptide chain (chain of many joined amino acids) but different interactions happen with the proteins in your chain. The four types of interactions are disulfide bonds, ionic bonds, hydrogen bonds, and other intermolecular forces (Van der Waals forces).
Disulfide and ionic bonds don't change in your hair during regular washing, rain, atmospheric conditions, etc but they do change when chemical treatments are added like perms, relaxers, keratin treatments, or acid rinses.
Hydrogen bonds are the weaker bonds and there's more of them in your hair (thanks, nature) and these hydrogen bonds impact your hair shape. If you've ever woken up with hair that looks like your finger's gone in a plug socket in the morning or sticking up on one side, you can thank your hydrogen bonds.
When you use a flat iron, that changes your hydrogen bonds. When your hair goes flat and frizzy in the drizzle, also hydrogen bonds.
The hydrogen bonds are re-formed and broken when moisture goes in and out of the strand (water makes/breaks the hair's hydrogen bonds) when showering, styling with heated tools, going from dry air to humid air (and vice versa). In each situation, water moves in and out of the hair and, sometimes, ruins your day!
Overall, you want to ensure that your hair isn't impacted via humidity by using hydrophobic (things that repel water) conditioning agents like natural oils or silicone-based/silicone-free products, whichever you prefer.
But to keep those hydrogen bonds happy, here are tips on taming that frizz!
How do I tame my frizz for good?
1. Bring on the moisture (via a good shampoo)
To tame frizz, you want to moisturise your hair with a high-quality shampoo. You want a product that cleanses the hair without stripping all of the natural oils from your hair. Over 'clean' and stripped hair means no moisture left and that you'll look like your neighbour's poofy dog FiFi instead of the beachy-waved goddess (or god) you want to look like (and are)!
Look for products that are packed with essential nutrients for your hair. Of course, we may be a little biased but we recommend our Deep Hydration Shampoo. It's part of our Super Repair series and specifically restores damaged cuticles with our superfood all-star Abyssinian oil ingredient (read up more about the ahh-mazing benefits here). It also maintains moisture, mends split ends and nourishes with Vitamin B5 and chamomile oil. It's anti-humidity, de-frizz, cuts drying time in half, and deep conditions and shines in just a three-minute quick wash. What is not to love?
2. Add a little more moisture (via a hair mask)
You've washed your hair with a restorative shampoo, conditioned as usual, and now you need a hair mask (about once per week) to come to the deep-conditioning rescue.
Hair masks will help rescue your hair from the inside out, protecting your strands from heat damage and split ends. Both heat damage and split ends can make your hair more prone to frizz.
For this important job, we recommend (ahem! Sorry we are a lot biased!) our Protein Shake Hair Mask. Proteins are an excellent, silicone-free way to affect hair porosity by patching the spaces between the cuticles of porous hair. We use vegan keratin with a trio of activated plant proteins to reinforce the hair structure, correct porosity, and reduce frizz.
3. Dial down your water temperature
Another little side tip is to de-steam your shower. You don't have to shower (or bathe) in icy water but if you turn the temperate dial down a little colder, colder water helps keep the cuticle down. Although soaking in a hot tub or a steamy shower is perfect for those post-workout muscles, it doesn't do your hair any favours (unfortunately). To keep your hair cuticles smooth, opt for warm and not steamy water. But, if you really cannot stay away from those steamy showers, condition away!
4. Be delicate with the drying
Overuse of the hairdryer can lead to drier hair which will immediately quench its thirst with ambient air humidity the second you step out of the bathroom. There goes your perfect hairdo!
So, air-drying is much safer, but a heavy cotton towel whilst great for your body can be too harsh for your hair. The wrong towel when used to dry excess moisture from the hair can cause breakage and damage when your hair is at its most vulnerable (when it's wet). It's best to wick the moisture away quickly with a microfiber towel (each of ours are made up of two PET bottles), which protects your hair when drying.
Once your hair has dried for about ten minutes or so (or however long it takes to get about 75% dry), you can pop on some hair serum and heat protectant and dry your hair with a hairdryer, being careful to keep the cuticles flat and not break the hair with aggressive brushing.
Those with curly hair should use a diffuser attachment on your hairdryer (or buy a hairdryer with a diffuser attached). A diffuser limits the amount of direct heat on the strands which causes less friction and thus less (or no) frizz.
To help with drying, we recommend using our Supergloss Hair Serum and/or our Silk Milk Leave-In Conditioner. You can adjust the viscosity of the serum to the thickness and porosity of your hair by diluting it with silk milk. Either product (or a combination of the two) helps condition your strands, correct the porosity, and ensure that your hair isn't searching for humidity to moisturise your locks instead. When applied to wet hair before drying, these products make the perfect frizz defense.
5. Find a good leave-in conditioner (or serum)
Again, combating frizz is all about keeping the cuticles down and moisturised, so a leave-in moisturising product is a must-have to protect your hair and keep it smooth. There are many products on the market but we recommend our Supergloss Hair Serum or our Silk Milk Leave-In Conditioner. This natural beauty elixir treats dry and damaged hair with its array of superfood ingredients (including Abyssian oil, shea butter, and almond oil). You just apply a few pumps before you style your hair from the middle of your hair to the ends. This serum will provide long-lasting moisture and a protective barrier to stop those frizz-causing problems from happening (i.e. blocks out humidity and heat damage which will make your hair puff like a pom-pom)!
6. Be careful how you style your hair (and skip the spray)
When brushing your hair use a gentle brush that's good for your hair and reduces breakage (like our Schima Wood Hair Brush which reduces static buildup and prevents flyaways). Even if you're adding cute curls with your curling wand, flat iron, or the like, you'll want to skip the hairspray. You may want your hair to be as big as the ladies from the 1970s original version of Dallas but hairspray plus sun means dried out hair. Hairspray contains alcohol which tends to have a drying and damaging effect on your hair so if you think you can tame those flyaways by making your hair plastic-Ken-hair-solid, think again! Hairspray will cause your hair cuticle to swell and go puffy, which is the opposite of what you want. If hairspray is your go-to accessory, then opt for alcohol-free (trust us with this one!).
Plus, once you've got your style locked in place (either running free or with that alcohol-free hairspray), try to avoid touching your hair because over touching can lead to friction which leads to frizz (oh no!). If you can't stop pushing your hair out of your face, try a stylish chignon, a messy bun, trendy embellished clips (the 90s are back in!), or a headband to keep your hair out of your figurative eye line and away from your fingertips.
7. Trim those split ends (#selfcare)
To keep frizz and flyaways at bay it's best to get your hair cut every eight weeks or so. Fresh haircuts remove any frayed or damaged ends, which will reduce the potential for your friend frizz to re-visit.
Split ends can travel up the hair strand, which can cause further damage and the fearsome frizz. When you notice your ends fraying, get booked into your salon (or try and keep a schedule so that you can combat damage before it happens). If your neck of the woods has a high humidity level, try a haircut with blunt lines, which helps weigh the hair down, reducing frizz. With fresh haircuts and keeping on top of your moisture schedule, you should have solved the problem!
Frizz is everyone's least favourite summer problem but follow these tips to say 'goodbye frizz' and 'hello summer fun!' To recap, to tame those pesky flyaways and frizzy locks, keep your hair hydrated, freshly trimmed, shower in warm (not hot) water, avoid the hairspray, and protect your hair when you dry and style it.
But remember, as much as we all want to have sleek, beautiful supermodel locks, it's also important just to have fun (gasp! No matter what your hair looks like). If you have naturally curly or naturally frizzy hair sometimes it's best to enjoy the pool, do the hike, swim in the lake, or play that beach volleyball – whatever you enjoy – and keep your worries at bay.
With abyssian products, you can transform your hair into healthy and happy strands with our natural products. You'll have beautiful, shiny, stress-free hair in no time. Let us know on social media which of our products is your favourite. #abyssianeveryday
Did you know that in addition to making natural and cruelty-free products, we also have a buy one plant one scheme where we are helping to save the planet one tree at a time (in addition to reducing our plastic footprint as a company too)? Find out all about what we are doing to save the planet on our 'Sustainability' page. Let's #growandglow together.