We love our hair, but when the humidity hits each summer the same question runs through our mind: Should we just cut it all off? Here to help walk us off the edge is Dr. Alan J. Bauman, a board-certified hair science consultant and member of the prestigious Pantene Institute. He told us what we can do to finally have some good hair days this summer. But first, what causes frizz?
“The texture of hair is essential to establishing its tendency to frizz. Often hair that is curly or wavy will likely become frizzy.”
“Humidity, heat and changes in the air quality cause friction in the hair. Hair is made up of long keratin proteins that form two types of compound bonds. One is a hydrogen bond. These bonds break and reform every time your hair gets wet and it dries. Because there is so much water in humid air, those bonds are broken and reformed faster, resulting in frizz.”
“The bottom line is hair that isn’t healthy will be prone to frizz. Hair that has already had some type of disruption or chemical damage, such as with color or excessive heat, is overwhelmingly more prone to frizz because it’s in an unhealthy state.”
What are some ways to tame frizzy hair?
“The first thing to remember is that frizz is a combination of problems. Sometimes the more hair damage that you have, the frizzier your hair will be — and, of course, those with curlier hair typically end up with more frizz. So some of these things you can’t change, but there are things you can do to reduce it. You can straighten your hair, you can flatiron it or use straightening treatments — but in the long-term, those things might damage the cuticle, which could make your hair more prone to frizz. Conditioning it regularly is the safest and most effective thing that you could do. And be conscious of the types of products that you’re using. Shampoos and conditioners with amino silicones and cationic surfactants are ideal for treating frizzy hair.”
What are amino silicones and cationic surfactants?
“Silicones, especially amino silicones, are the things that fill in the gaps of the cuticle. The silicones decrease the friction, meaning that the hair strands will be able to slide more easily through the comb and you’re less likely to tangle it or snag it. Now the cationic surfactants fill in the cuticle, almost like a chemical patch, to restore the natural smoothness and quality in the hair. So imagine if the cuticles are fish scales that lay on top of one another. As damage occurs, those scales kind of break away or peel up from the hair, resulting in frizz, but the cationic surfactants fill in those gaps and the amino silicones decrease the friction and make it easier to comb or brush.”
Bauman on keratin treatments
“Keratin is a chemical and heat treatment that is used to straighten the hair. It breaks the sulfate bonds in the hair and essentially reforms them so that the hair is straight. It’s considered almost like a semi-permanent treatment because, although every salon applies it differently, it’s something that would need to be reapplied. So, it reduces frizz and allows the hair to dry a little bit better and gives you kind of wash-and-wear hair. But, it also comes with risks, because as that straightening wears off, you need it to be straightened again — and eventually the heat and chemicals can cause breakage.