Many of us are familiar with the frustrations of frizz. Like a breakout before a big event, or rain on a special day, frizz has a tendency to put in an appearance when it’s least welcome. Inconvenience aside, frizz is something that can affect everyone, and all hair types. Anabel Kingsley, a London- and New York-based trichologist, and owner of Philip Kingsley, says, “Frizz can occur in all hair textures, though we see it most often in curly and fine hair. It’s due to temporary changes to the hydrogen bonds in your hair – which are very weak and easily broken by water, and then reset into place by heat. This is what allows us to style our hair with irons and tongs, but it’s only temporary. The moment moisture – such as sweat or humidity – touches hair again, frizz can reappear.” Short of having your hair treated chemically to permanently reshape the hair’s bonds and prevent frizz, the more hands-on approach to taming frizz can be broken down into three areas: damage, barrier and moisture. Here’s what you need to know…
It’s true that all hair types experience frizz to varying degrees, but the cause of frizz is a constant. “Hair frizzes when water in the air penetrates into the hair cortex,” explains Kingsley. “Every strand of hair is encased in cuticles and, like scales, they usually lie flat and tightly packed, acting as a barrier against moisture. However, when cuticle scales become raised, moisture penetrates more easily, causing strands to change configuration, kink and frizz.” The reason behind the scales lifting can be down to a number of things, but usually it’s a consequence of some kind of damage: chemical treatments, including bleaching, regular heat styling, or a fragility in the hair that makes it more porous. “How frizz-prone you are depends on how naturally straight, wavy or curly your hair is, and how porous it is. It’s also hugely dependent on the weather. For example, the summer is often a bad time for frizz due to the high humidity levels,” adds Kingsley.
Damaged hair results in high porosity, which equals frizz. Regular heat styling (especially where the heat is applied directly to the hair, such as with irons and tongs), and bleaching, tinting and perming can all result in damage. In the case of bleach, the hair not only becomes porous and frizzy, but it can take on a cloud-like puff, as the hair is made thinner each time bleach is applied. “When the outer protective hair cuticle is damaged and raised, water is able to penetrate far more easily,” says Kingsley.
It’s unrealistic to forgo these treatments, but we can minimize much of the damage with proper pre- and post-care. For example, treat your hair regularly with a bond-building, strengthening treatment once (preferably twice) a week, especially before your next color or bleach appointment. Ensure you maintain the regimen and use a strengthening mask the first time you wash your hair post-treatment, too. Intensive masks, such as Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector, applied overnight are also an excellent idea, as they trap nourishment against your hair and maximize absorption. If you’re worried about ruining your bed sheets, wear Slip’s Pure Silk Turban over the top to keep the product in place.
UV is another source of damage, having a similar effect on the hair as bleach. “UV rays reduce the hair’s elasticity, lessens its ability to hold a style and increases its porosity,” advises Kingsley. So, if sunshine is on the cards, protect your hair with a product containing UV filters and follow exposure with a repairing treatment to minimize damage.
Build up your barrier
Whether your hair is straight, wavy, curly or coily, its protective barrier is your best line of defence against UV, chemical treatments and moisture in the environment. When your barrier is intact, it keeps everything that maintains strength in and anything harmful out. However, you can temporarily restore the function of the barrier with styling products that create an artificial seal around each strand of hair. “These products tame frizz by discouraging your hair from absorbing excess moisture,” says Kingsley. To create the seal, most of them use silicones – often a dirty word in beauty but, when used correctly, silicones are excellent for providing strength, shine and manageability. You don’t need to be a pro to use them either: just smooth a pea-sized amount of serum or cream over the lengths and ends of your hair after styling, then lightly smooth whatever is left on the palms of your hands over your hairline and parting to capture flyaways.
Just add water
Despite wanting to keep sweat and environmental moisture out of hair strands, you want to keep as much of your hair’s natural moisture in if you want frizz-free strands. “Dry hair is more prone to breaking, and broken hair tends to look frizzy,” says Kingsley. It should go without saying that drinking enough water every day will keep your inner reservoir topped up, benefiting not just your hair, but your skin, too. Nourishing and moisturizing treatments will take care of the rest: “Hydrate your hair with a weekly pre-shampoo conditioning treatment to help prevent breakage. A daily protective spray will also help protect your hair from weathering and damage.”