The Frizzy Hair Fact Sheet
EarthKind’s Founder and leading Trichologist, Tony Maleedy, basically the king of everything hair related helps us understand more about frizzy hair – something the majority of us try to banish at some point!
So, what actually is frizzy hair?
Frizzy hair is hair fibre misalignment in the form of small, tight, uncontrolled curls where the ends stick out and interfere with the smooth, sleek appearance of a particular hairstyle whether curly or straight.
It is not uncommon for hair that is naturally straight to have a small percentage of curly hairs interspersed throughout the mass of straight hair.
When the hair becomes damp these hairs may become wavy or curly (depending upon their length) while the rest of the hair remains straight. These will be seen as ‘frizzy hair’.
What are the main causes of frizz and does it mean my hair is damaged?
This is the science bit. The basic shape of our hair is determined by genetics and the shape of the follicles our hair grows from. But on a day-to-day level, what plays a very significant role in maintaining that genetically determined shape are the billions of hydrogen bonds in the hair cortex that gives the hair its structural backbone, a high proportion of its tensile strength, and almost all its elastic properties. Hydrogen bonds are weak compared to other bonds in the hair but because they are present in such vast numbers, they are incredibly important.
When hair is wet it becomes very pliable due to water entering the cortex combining with, and weakening, the hydrogen bonds and breaking down the hair’s structural backbone – this is why wet hair is prone to damage and should not be brushed too vigorously. As the hair dries and the excess water evaporates, the hydrogen bonds readily form into their pre-determined structure, and the hair regains its rigidity and shape. A shape we often regard as ‘frizzy’ and undesirable.
Frizzy hair does not necessarily mean it is damaged. However, it may be damaged as broken hair and split ends often appear as ‘frizziness’. But this cause of frizz is easily remedied by cutting off any broken or split hair.
Are there any reasons why hair frizzes more easily?
The main reason why hair becomes frizzy is the uptake of excess moisture. During the day in ambient temperatures, and under normal atmospheric conditions, the moisture level within the hair’s cortical fibres fluctuates greatly, but usually only temporarily. For example, moving from one temperature (air conditioned office to street; street to refrigerated food store) to another could cause the % levels of moisture in the hair to change.
If the hair is in good condition, with an average moisture level of approx.10%, the level of moisture it will absorb under normal conditions will be limited. But if the hair is dry and damaged, and therefore has a very low level of moisture, it will try to absorb as much moisture as it can. In humid conditions this may increase from something like 3% or 4% moisture in dry hair, to perhaps 20%. This sudden surge in moisture within a few minutes can turn a hair style from relatively straight (but with lots of split ends) to a mass of frizziness very quickly. The differences, therefore, in the average moisture level of the hair and how good a condition it is in, frequently determines how frizzy it will become.
How can one keep the frizz at bay?
Frizzy hair wants to do its own thing and go where it wants. It’s rebellious!
Improving the condition of the hair so that’s its natural moisture content is near to optimum is a great start. Using curl defining products to help manipulate the curl pattern and blend the rebellious hair to flow with neighbouring hairs also helps in achieving some form of curl alignment.
When the hair is dry after washing and styled the way you want it, putting a ‘barrier’ between it and any moisture in the atmosphere will greatly reduce the opportunity for the hair to revert to its natural shape and become frizzy. Silicones are very good at this, a silicone-based spray can greatly help to reduce frizz. If you want a more natural method, applying an oil will have a similar effect. But too much oil will quickly weigh the hair down and make it look greasy. Lighter oils such as jojoba or avocado are generally the best to use by rubbing a very small quantity between the palms of your hands then lightly spreading it over the surface of the hair. This will help to keep the hair in a more uniform shape without individual hairs sticking out so making the hair look frizzy.
What products would you recommend using on frizzy hair?
The leading brand in the anti-frizz market is still John Frieda. Their wide range of products uses various silicones to reduce frizz. Silicones can certainly be very effective at taming frizzy hair, but care should be taken not to use too much as the hair can become heavy and start to look greasy. Silicone can also build up on the hair giving it an almost synthetic feel and can be difficult to remove.
Aveda Smooth Infusion products can be very good at smoothing the hair and making it look sleeker and shiner. Because they use plant derived polymers as anti-frizz materials rather than silicones there is less chance of build up on the hair.
From the EarthKind range, I recommend trying the Bergamot & Sage Shampoo Bar and the Organic Oats Conditioning Bar - these will give greater control over unruly hair. The Elasticity pre-wash Treatment Bar is also a fantastic option that strengthens and restructures fly-away (or damaged) hair from the inside.
We have also been busy creating a range of exciting new products in our lab, two of which will be fantastic for frizzy or curly hair. We are all very excited to launch these in 2023.