Summer is in full swing. Sweat is dripping. Humidity is off the charts and hair is up….but it doesn’t have to be. We are talking to cosmetic chemist Kate Noonan and curly hair expert Delilah Orpi about why hair frizzes out this time of year and what you can do to support it. (And, spoiler alert, it’s not all braids and buns!).
By: Lisa Fennessy
This post is partially sponsored by EVOLVh, an ethical haircare line that meets ECOCERT requirements, COSMOS requirements, is Soils Association Approved, NaTrue Approved and Global Approved. As always, The New Knew only works with brands who we trust are making the world a better place.
IN THIS POST:
- Fight frizz using products with a low pH
- Fight frizz with ingredients like amino acids and oils
- Hair product recommendations to fight the frizz by hair type
- Hair styling tips to fight frizz
- Hairstyles to beat frizz
It’s that time of year. The time of year where I just stand and stare at the clothes in my closet wondering, How can I wear less? Why? The heat index is HIGH, the sweat running down my chest won’t quit and humidity has every hair on my head hands up doing the Nae Nae.
So while I’m just over here wondering how I can NOT look like a drowned rat who put their finger in an electrical socket, we got some answers from the experts on how to beat the frizz.
What causes hair to frizz?
Up first? What actually causes hair to frizz? It’s not just the heat or the humidity. The biggest culprit for causing frizz can stem from the pH in your hair products.
Kate Noonan, Molecular Biologist and Cosmetic Chemist, explains, “Your hair is made out of layers of a protein called keratin with an outer layer called the cuticle. Frizz happens when keratin (which has a neutral charge and a pH between 4.5-5.4) shifts to a negative charge often due to using high pH products.
A negative charge increases friction between the individual hairs causing their cuticles to become more roughed up and damaged. This in itself will manifest as frizz but it’s also a slippery frizz slope. Hair that has a negative charge is vulnerable to external moisture as it attracts the positive end of a water molecule and swells in high humidity.” AKA, hello frizz on frizz.
- High pH products can cause hair to have a negative charge.
- A negative charge causes friction between hairs which leads to frizz.
- Friction can also cause hair cuticles to become roughed up and damaged.
- Roughed up/damaged hair + negative charge + humidity = LOTS of frizz
Fight frizz using products with a low pH
That being said, one of the best things you can do to fight the frizz is use hair products with a low pH. What’s a low pH and how can you shop for hair products with one? Well friend, we have good news and bad news. The good news is we can give you a pH benchmark to look for. The bad news is most haircare products do not come with a pH listed on the label—meaning most of the time this will have to be a question you ask the brand yourself.
Kate explains, “Using hair products with a pH above 5.4 is the major cause of frizz.” This means, if you are trying to reduce the frizz, actively seek out hair products like shampoo, conditioner and styling products that have a pH less than 5.4.
To get the ball rolling, we connected with a few of our go-to hair care brands to inquire about the pH of their products. This is relatively easy to do via email, chat, phone or my personal preference, DM or PM on social channels. For example, Innersense lists the pH of their products on their FAQ page which they say ranges from 4.5-5.5. And we checked in with EVOLVh via email who confirmed the majority of their range is also between 4.5-5.5.
Fight frizz with ingredients like amino acids and oils
When it comes to fighting frizz, styling products with amino acids and oils are equally important. Kate continues, “Positively charged amino acids repair the hair cell membrane complexes and neutralize the negative charges that lead to hair frizz and tangles. While oils replenish the lipids in hair’s outer cuticle which is key for healthy, glossy hair.”
The more hair volume = the more lipids and amino acids needed to replenish hair to keep it frizz free.
Now maybe you are thinking, this all sounds great but how can I ensure my products are delivering? And my answer, per usual, is check your labels. Amino acids can look like hydrolyzed adansonia digitata seed extract, hydrolyzed rice protein, hydrolyzed quinoa, silk amino acids, glycine soja (soybean) extract on a label while some oils that are specifically beneficial for hair can look like coconut oil, almond oil, castor oil, argan oil, olive oil, amla oil, fenugreek oil, sesame oil, linseed oil, mustard oil.
Hair product recommendations to fight the frizz by hair type
And of course we don’t want to leave you hanging on where to start, however we know for sure that all hair is not created equal so in that vein here are hair product recs for specific hair types to fight the frizz. Read them all or skip through to find your specific hair type.
Product recommendations to fight the frizz for thick, curly and textured hair
Delilah Orpi, founder of The Holistic Enchilada and expert curly girl explains exactly how to get a handle on curls in humid weather.
“To maintain a curly style, it’s important to use products that seal your hair to protect it from the environment, and that have enough hold to keep your curls from frizzing. Here’s how:
- Make sure your hair is hydrated by using a good cleansing shampoo and moisturizing conditioner. This will help reduce the frizz by ensuring your hair has enough moisture.
- Style your hair with products that have humidity-resistant ingredients and a medium to hard hold. These two are key to curls maintaining their shape, shine, definition, and hold for more than just a few hours. Using something without humidity-resistant ingredients or with a lighter hold, like a cream, does not work well in humid environments and you’ll notice your curls fall flat, frizz up, and puff out quickly.”
Delilah recommends the EVOLVh WonderBalm which she says is a fantastic product to layer under your main styler, as the key ingredients act like a silicone to block out the humidity and protect your hair. She then suggests layering a hard hold mousse or gel over the WonderBalm to hold curl / style and reduce frizz.
Caaliyah Greer, Youtuber, Instagrammer and owner of Goddess Curls, encourages women with natural hair to really play with their hair and see what works best for them. She also notes that more moisture will reduce frizz so use a good conditioner or a deep conditioner, moisturizing styling products (including water)—and don’t be afraid to use “too much”! More here.
Product recommendations to fight the frizz for medium weight, wavy or straight hair
Kate says, “Medium weight hair can usually handle significant levels of amino acids and oils to keep frizz in check without weighing it down, but can also benefit from some lighter products depending on your texture.”
This is my specific hair type so I was excited to see that Kate recommends EVOLVh’s SuperFinish Polishing Balm, among others, as a good fit for this hair type.
SuperFinish Polishing Balm is hands down my favorite hair product. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know I won’t shut up about it as I’ve talked about it again and again and again. But basically I use it daily to protect, smooth and add shine. Here’s my personal tips on how to apply:
- Don’t be afraid to use “too much”. This is a water-based product and it won’t weigh hair down. Sometimes I do like 25 pumps. More is literally more here.
- Section hair off and apply in sections to ensure an even application.
- Apply specifically to hair’s most vulnerable areas. For me this means the whitest white parts of my hair. For you it could mean your blondest blonde parts or new growth or your ends.
Product recommendations to fight the frizz for fine or thin hair
Before all the fine haired people run away screaming, “NOOOO! Product weighs my hair down!” WE KNOW! And we wouldn’t do you dirty like that. Kate clarifies, “Fine and thin hair still needs to be adequately nourished, but the key is sticking with lightweight ingredients that won’t weigh your hair down.”
RELATED: Check out our exclusive coupon code page!
Hair styling tips to fight frizz
Outside of making sure hair is pH balanced, has enough moisture and the hair cuticle is sealed so that the excess moisture in the air doesn’t swell your hair shaft—there are also styling tips to consider.
Orpi recommends curly girls diffuse their hair for at least a few minutes to help set your style since, “diffusing results in a longer lasting style than you’ll achieve with air drying.”
For medium weight hair like mine, The Dyson Airwrap Styler has a flyaway smoother which really works and noticeably makes my hair look shinier and smoother. However you don’t necessarily have to spend $600 for an Airwrap when tinfoil and dryer sheets seem to do the same thing.
But we wanted more so we picked up a few humidity hacks around the interwebs and one of our faves is applying a hairspray or texturizing spray to a hair brush and brushing it through your hair after blow drying to give hair “a little bit of grit” to fight that humidity a la’ @mattloveshair —also executed a little simpler by @maggieanne.n.
Hairstyles to beat frizz
And I know I said the answer to beating frizz is not all buns and braids but of course you can use these and updos in general as a beat the frizz tactic too.
Basically, the key to not losing your mind during high frizz season is to embrace your texture and not fight it. If your hair doesn’t grow out of your head stick straight don’t expect your perfectly flat ironed hair to last more than .5 seconds after stepping outside. Same goes for the curls you spent 30 minutes on if you’ve got fine, straight hair. Save yourself time and frustration and just lean into what your mama gave ya.
Or, pull it up into a sleek pulled back bun, braid or updo. Here are a few to try:
So.. which of these tips or products will you try?
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One of the best things you can do to fight the frizz is use hair products with a low pH. Learn more here.
The biggest culprit for causing frizz can stem from the pH in your hair products. Learn more here.
Frizzy hair can stem from a variety of factors:
– High pH products can cause hair to have a negative charge.
– A negative charge causes friction between hairs which leads to frizz.
– Friction can also cause hair cuticles to become roughed up and damaged.
– Roughed up/damaged hair + negative charge + humidity = LOTS of frizz
Learn more here.
One of the best things you can do to fight the frizz is use hair products with a low pH. Learn more about low pH products here.