Frizz: The How & Why
Frizzy hair: it’s a dreaded but common phenomenon that plagues even the best of us. If you’ve ever been frustrated over your hair’s inability to cooperate and flow in glossy waves and pondered why you couldn’t have just gotten the silky-smooth gene (more on that later), then you’ve probably come to the right place! We’re going to be getting to the ‘root’ of the problem (pun absolutely intended) in this article.
The first thing to broach when discussing hair health, is dismantling misinformation. There is just so much inaccurate and sometimes harmful information floating across the internet, disguised as well-intentioned “tips”. Likewise, there is a general misconception that frizzy hair is caused due to genes (as we made a nod to in the introduction). Frizzy hair however is not a hair type but is actually a condition.
While this can be frustrating to hear as there’s not really much one can do about it, the environment you’re in plays a massive role in how healthy your hair is. And to make matters worse, both dry and humid climates can adversely affect your hair.
Humidity: Humid environments allow moisture to be absorbed into the hair shaft, causing proteins present in the cortex (the part of the hair shaft that sits between the cuticle and the innermost layer, the medulla) to swell. This swelling is not uniform, as the various types of proteins present all interact with moisture differently. This causes the hair to fold back on itself and bend in an irregular fashion, which creates frizz! This happens especially if you have dry hair, as it tends to absorb more moisture from the surrounding environment to make up for the dryness.
Dry Air: While dry air causes a similarly unhealthy look on your hair, the science behind it is actually different from what causes frizz in humidity. What happens in a dry environment is actually static hair. If you’ve ever rubbed a balloon on your shirt and tried to stick it to your hair, then you’d have some idea of what this means. Both frizz and static hair are equally annoying to deal with and actually look pretty much the same- unruly hair that sticks up all over the place; however, they are fundamentally different. This happens when your hair builds up electric charge, and hair gets either positively or negatively charged. If the environment has some moisture in it, then the charge dissipates, but when the surrounding air is dry, this doesn’t happen. Like charges repel each other (think of it like magnets!), so this means that if two strands of hair are both positively charged, then they both try to get as far away from each other as possible. Now imagine this happening on your entire head! That’s hair static for you. Luckily enough, both frizz and static have the same fix, which is why we’ve talked about it in this post.
Heat damage and over-styling of hair is another big reason for frizz. The high temperatures of flat ironing and blow drying can result in the cuticle sustaining damage. Damage to the cuticle causes frizz. Similarly, harsh chemical treatments like bleach and dye can also damage the cuticle. When this happens, hair becomes prone to breakage, which leads to frizz.
Friction affects all hair, but certain hair types (curly and wavy hair to be exact), can be more prone to the negative effects of friction. Lifestyle habits like brushing dry hair and sleeping on a rough pillowcase can lead to too much friction for hair to handle. Friction works by lifting the cuticle to create frizz, so too much of it is definitely a big no-no for healthy hair.
The answer for combating frizz is ultimately to keep your hair at the healthiest it can be. This means a number of things and depends on what exactly causes your specific frizz fiasco.
If dry and dehydrated hair that interacts badly with humid and dry air is your problem, then the answer is to hydrate your hair, both from inside and outside. Avoid over-washing your hair and invest in a hydrating conditioner and treatment.
If you know that heat damage is your issue, then try to take a break from using hot tools. If you absolutely must, then use styling tools that employ lower temperatures and always use heat protectant.
If friction is what’s causing the frizz, then you can eliminate that by only using a wide toothed comb your hair when it’s wet to separate and detangle the strands or using a smoother material like silk for your pillowcase.
Sometimes frizz can be caused due to one of these factors, but more often than not, it’s a combination of a few. In such cases, it’s best to come in for a hair consult and determine, with the help of a trained stylist, what is the best option to reach the optimum hair health that would eliminate frizz.
You can always book a hair consultation with one of our fabulous Stylists at Essa Beauty to learn more about your hair and how to keep it healthy and looking its best!