Hair type or condition aside, the ultimate culprit of frizz is a raised hair cuticle. “This lets moisture pass through and swell the strands,” says afro- and curly-hair expert Charlotte Mensah. Hair naturally wants to be hydrated, so the drier it is, the more it will soak up any wetness in the air. “As a result, your hair will look frizzy.” Read on for your definitive guide to effectively taming all varieties of fuzz-prone strands…
Know your frizz type
According to Mensah, surface frizz occurs on the outer layers of your hair only. It often looks like static and responds best to a lightweight approach. “Halo frizz appears on the crown of your head,” says Mensah. “It’s caused by breakage, which can’t be fixed.” Try a spritz of hairspray on an unused toothbrush to smooth frizz along the crown and hairline while the hair grows out. Frizz at the ends is commonly caused by breakage and split ends from over-styling and over-coloring. Mensah recommends a trim every six to eight weeks to improve hair health. “Curl frizz occurs inside your curls.” Hydration is especially key here as curly hair – along with colored and chemically treated hair – is naturally drier and has a more raised cuticle, making it more prone to frizz.
Hydration starts in the shower
Any frizz-fighting battle begins with proper hydration. “An hour before you shower, massage essential-oil-rich manketti, argan or almond oil into your hair and scalp to nourish the hair shaft from within,” advises Mensah. Next, use a glycerin-based shampoo. “It’s a great humectant,” she says. “It absorbs the extra moisture in the air to create a protective coating over strands.” Saturate hair with a hydrating conditioner and wait at least 15 minutes before rinsing. “Conditioner is your number-one weapon against frizz.” Once a week, work in a deep-conditioning treatment packed with plant-based oils or shea butter to lock in moisture. “Steam treatments are also great, as these allow water and conditioner to deeply penetrate the hair shaft,” says Mensah. Post-shower, avoid aggressively towel-drying hair. “It disrupts the cuticle, causing more frizz.”
Use the right styling products
“I always prep freshly washed, frizz-prone hair with a cream or an oil first,” says Craig Taylor, creative director at Hari’s Hairdressers in London. Which one to use generally depends on the thickness of your hair, and product trial and error. “Fine hair tends to be weaker than thicker hair, which affects the cuticles’ integrity, making the hair more prone to frizz, but it’s also easily weighed down with the wrong product.” Choose lightweight oils or a styling mist to weightlessly hydrate tresses. “Fine afro hair usually prefers an oil, as creams tend to weigh it down and it doesn’t curl nicely,” says Taylor. “Thicker and very curly hair needs a heavier cream to coat strands and give more control.” To help with hairline fuzz, he suggests applying a mousse or styling lotion over your first prep product wherever there is frizz.
Avoid too much heat
Beyond product, the best thing you can do is let unruly hair air-dry. If that’s not possible, Taylor advises diffusing curls at the lowest setting and blow-drying wavy to straight hair in a downwards direction to help smooth the cuticle. “If your frizz comes from over-bleaching, I’d be extremely cautious with hot tools,” he warns. Often, frizz on straight hair is breakage or hair that can’t grow as long as the rest. “A flat iron can help in this case to straighten and smooth those hairs,” says Taylor.
Fight frizz overnight
A good time to combat unwanted frizz is while you’re sleeping. “Prep freshly washed hair before tying it back in a braid,” says Taylor. “This trick works on all hair types and helps with reducing the natural volume of frizzy or curly hair.” Mensah swears by swapping out your cotton pillowcase for a silk one to reduce friction on your hair caused by tossing and turning as we sleep. “You can also wrap your hair at night with a silk scarf, which helps it to retain moisture, too.”
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