Battle humidity and tame those tresses with these tips and tricks from a professional stylist
News flash: it’s humid outside. Again. And no matter what kind of hair you have, we know humidity and hair are not good friends. We’ve asked professional stylist Darrin of DAZ Hair to help us get those locks in place!
Whether you love the 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 battling the unwelcome curls and frizz caused by the relentless humidity is an endless cycle. In my 20-plus years as a hairstylist in HK, it’s probably the most common hair problem for both men and women, so here are my top tips for battling the humidity while keeping gorgeous, smooth hair through the humid months.
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! Yes, men and women alike. 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 humidity has that the clients understand what is actually happening to their hair. Once the root of the problem has been diagnosed, it’s then time to work out the best remedy for a cure. 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.
Why does the humidity mess up my hair?
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, frizz. 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 presents 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 frizzy hair to both.
How can I maintain my hair?
If you’re not inclined to spend hours in the salon, here are my tips: hydrate, 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! Seriously, have a glass right now.
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. Oh, and yes, conditioner is NOT the same thing as a moisture treatment.
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. Best to use a wide tooth comb and if you’re in a hurry (as most people in HK are!) and can’t resist a good towel shaking, at least spritz on some leave-in conditioner and comb through after.
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 bird’s 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:
No not your olive oil or cooking oil. I would check out the Moroccan Oil ($364.50) or an alternative oil that is silicon free such as the Living Proof oil ($320.94). Moroccan Oil uses the nourishing Argan oil as its primary ingredient to help smooth the hair and combat the frizz. It now comes in both regular and light versions, which is the better choice for finer or lighter hair types. Often the original can be too heavy but is amazing on thicker coarse hair textures. The Living Proof Oil is a fast-absorbing oil that nourishes even the coarsest hair. This oil has an optimal blend of nourishing oils that mimic the hair’s natural oil composition, that conditions and makes dry, coarse hair feel soft and uses a patented Healthy Hair Molecule (OFPMA) that weightlessly blocks humidity, leaving hair smooth and manageable. This oil is a residue-free formula works on dry or damp hair.
The Living Proof “No Frizz” range
Yes, that is correct, the whole range. One of the most innovative product lines to hit the market in the last decade in my opinion. Quite simply it does what is says. It is NOT like other brands and is best used in conjunction with other Living Proof products for that reason. Start with the No Frizz shampoo ($219.59) and No Frizz conditioner ($219.59), then consider its No Frizz styling range to suite your needs. (Note: Sassy Mama’s senior editor uses these products and swears by them!).
Living Proof Priming Style Extender Spray ($168.92): it is similar to using a base for your makeup, you put it on first before anything else. It has humidity blocking agents and helps to prolong the life of your finished hair style.
Living Proof No Frizz Humidity Sheild Spray ($194.25): This seals the outer layer of the hair preventing moisture displacement thus again blocking the affects of humid creating frizz. Now they are not fool proof and may not get you through an entire day out in the heat but they defiantly do help to keep your hairstyle gorgeously quaffed longer.
These are a couple of extras you can ad to your styling arsenal for the humid months that can be very effective.
Smoothing Treatment or Semi Permanent Relaxer: There are many variations on the market these days but my go to is still the Keratin Complex Smoothing Treatment. After trying a multitude of brands over the years I still find the Keratin Complex Treatment gives the best overall results. This is a semi-permanent straightening treatment who’s is designed to seal 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!”
Flat Irons: My favourite has to be the ghd platinum— 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. If you have coloured hair these are also great for sealing in and protecting colour.
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. Talk to your stylist and hopefully you will get the best advice on how to mange your mange through these steamy months. Getting the right combination of all of these elements is the key to beating the fight of the frizz!
Editors note: This post was originally published on 9, July 2014 and updated on 6 August, 2018