We’ve all heard how humidity can ruin a good hairdo. Those pesky flyaways and the increased volume are usual traits of a frizzy hair. But why does humidity give our hair so much grief? Let’s take a look.
Effect of humidity on the hair
During heat styling, the blow dryer or flat-iron drives out a good percentage of the water molecules from the hair. If the hair is held in a given configuration (straight with the brush, or rolled) while drying, it will tend to remain in that configuration. The remaining water molecules in hair (moisture) lock the hair into place through hydrogen bonding to the amino acid side chains in the keratin fibers and this is termed as ‘water-setting‘.
When the dry and styled hair is exposed to a humid environment (air rich in water molecules), these water molecules can penetrate the hair and thus they disrupt the water-set hair by interacting with the internal water molecules of the hair and with the hair’s amino acid side chains. As more water gets absorbed into the hair, the hair swells in diameter and can go up to 14-16% of its original dry state. This translate visually to a bigger hair volume and to loss of definition (due to disrupted water-set) in the curls or waves: Frizzy hair.
Note that low humidity can also disrupt your hair style (loss of water molecules from the hair). However, the effects are less noticeable because the hair doesn’t take up any volume and the loss of water molecules is usually not as extreme as the gain in humid air.
The best solution for Frizzy Hair
People with damaged hair or dry hair will suffer most from humidity because the hair lacks in its lipid barriers to keep moisture away. This is one of the reasons that everyone will advise you to coat the hair with oils, silicones or other humectant rich conditioners at all times. However, these do not last for long unless the hair is heavily coated. Then comes the problem of dirty hair that needs to be washed more often and you find yourself stuck in a cycle.
Objectively, I have been using Living Proof
Frizz products for years now. The whole line with the patented Polyfluoroester (OFPMA) technology is a breakthrough in the anti-frizz industry. The cream by itself doesn’t provide much conditioning for thick hair, but the best part is that the cream is so light (and yet keeps humidity out) that it can be used with your current conditioning or moisturizing product without giving hair a yucky feel.
Updated July 2016