Whether you love the Hong Kong humidity or hate it, one thing’s for sure: this little force of nature can wreak havoc on your hair. Anyone who has spent more than a few weeks in Hong Kong’s summer will know about battling the unwelcome curls and frizz caused by the relentless humidity. In my 20 plus years as a hairstylist in HK, it’s probably the most common hair problem for women, so here are my top tips for battling the humidity and keeping gorgeous, smooth hair through the heated months.
Why does the humidity mess up my hair?
The Hong Kong humidity generally starts to affect hair from May through September. The usual indication for me when the humidity is on the rise is the increase in clients coming in with sudden unruly hair! Most claim that their hair has become frizzy, puffy, dull and lifeless — a telltale sign that the humidity has arrived. For many a newbie to HK, this is a first-time experience and it’s not until I spend some time to explain the effects that the client understands what is actually happening to their hair. Thankfully, nowadays we have a number of products, techniques and tools to make it through the humid months without looking like the wrong end of a broom.
Let’s start with the reason why humidity has such a hair-raising effect on hair itself. The hygroscopic nature of hair during humidity prompts absorption of airborne moisture and reacts with the hydrogen bonds in each strand of hair to cause swelling of the hair. This density change can account for many unexpected styling issues such as puffiness, tangled hair, dullness and of course, frizziness. Every person’s hair type responds differently to the moisture vapour’s effects, even various strands on the same head can react unpredictably. This uneven absorption prevents an added problem of twisting, bending and swelling of the hair, which can then take the curl out of fine hair strands, increase curls in natural curly hair or alternately cause frizziness to both.
How can I maintain my hair?
If you’re not inclined to spend hours in the salon, here are my tips: hydrate, moisturise and hydrate again. Keeping yourself and your hair hydrated is the first step in the battle of the frizz! We all know how important it is to drink enough water but it also helps with keeping your hair nourished so be sure to drink up!
Hydration or moisture treatments are especially important through the humid months to help reduce hair from losing excess moisture. Keeping hair well-conditioned will prevent unwanted excess water vapour absorption and lessen the fluffy look, thus reducing the frizz. Make sure you use a good conditioner and a weekly deep moisture treatment that packs humectants and protein-rich vitamins. Conditioner should be combed through the hair to help seal the cuticle.
Using some 100% Lanolin oil added to your conditioner has also proven to be a good home remedy to fight the frizz. Alternatively, mix it with warm water for a 15 minute treatment; it’s a little unorthodox, but can be effective! After all, it’s Lanolin that causes the ‘water proofing’ effect in many animal furs and coats.
Another tip I have is to avoid towel drying the hair as this will roughen up the cuticles, thereby increasing frizz. Instead, try to squeeze or blot dry the hair, or even better use a microfiber towel. Whatever you do, don’t brush with a plastic bristle brush! Brushing with a poor quality brush can exaggerate frizz so if you must brush, use a boar or natural bristle brush to help fight the static.
What are the best products to use?
Nothing can ruin a woman’s day more than walking out of the house with gorgeous hair only to have it transform itself into a birds nest within minutes of leaving the house. There are some great products on the market now that have proven to be invaluable for those who are willing to put in the time to use. Here are a few of my top picks:
1. John Frieda Frizz Ease: This serum is the product for you if you need something fast, quick and easy. It will tame unruly locks in just one application and if you use it every day, it can help prevent frizz before it even starts.
2. MOP Leave-In Conditioner: MOP Leave-In Conditioner works for all hair types, with extracts of certified organic echinacea and dandelion plus certified organic carrot puree which blocks hair from external aggressors. It’s great as a styling product on natural curly hair too.
3. Keratin Complex Treatments: The Keratin Complex Vanilla Bean treatment is a deep conditioning treatment for all hair types with aromatherapy packed spheres of vanilla beans. This is truly an innovation in the science of hair nourishment: the deep conditioning treatment with bio-nutrient spheres of vanilla beans provides renewed shine and optimum nourishment, resulting in better hair quality. Alternatively, try the Keratin Complex Smoothing Treatment which is a semi-permanent straightening treatment that seals the cuticle with Keratin proteins, thus keeping the hair smooth and frizz-free. I would recommend either the full treatment or the express blowout. It’s a bit of an investment but according to many of my clients, “It’s a life changer!”
4. DAVINES Momo Moisturising Anti-Frizz Protective Fluid: This is a moisturising protective fluid which eliminates frizz and restores the richness and shine back to your hair. Its super moisturising fluid keeps curly and frizzy hair soft and smooth by counteracting the effects of humidity and ads extra protection from air pollution.
5. Flat Irons: My favourite has to be the ghd — an invaluable tool in the fight against frizz. Although it’s usually best to avoid adding too much heat to the hair, the smooth advanced ceramic plates and multiple heat sensors of the ghd iron help smooth and seal the cuticle for smoother hair.
I could probably go on and on about the multitude of treatments available, products, do’s and don’ts and best cuts for hair types, but essentially it’s a lot of trial and error on the part of the individual to really find out what works best for you. Getting the right combination of all of these elements is the key to beating the fight of the frizz!