One of the biggest questions I get, as far as my natural hair is concerned, is how do I maintain my BIG hair during the hot humid summer months. This is actually a really good question. Being natural there are just certain elements that unleash havoc on our hair and humidity is one of them. Some people don't realize that even when it's colder outside humidity or moisture in the air still plays a major factor in how our hair will react and ultimately survive. Below are a list of tips that have helped me fight humidity and frizz even on the most humid of days. Keep in mind that these tips have worked for me and might not necessarily work for you.
Moisture is Key
The number one reason why frizz happens is because your hair is dry. The more moisturized your hair is the less susceptible it is to frizz. On a more scientific level, when your hair is dry your hair cuticle is raised, combine that with humidity (moisture in the air) and that is a recipe for frizz. You want to make sure your cuticle lays flat and smooth which brings us to my next tip.
Once you've applied moisture to your hair it is important to seal all that moisture in which ultimately closes your cuticle. The most common way to seal is with an oil. My favorites are sweet almond oil and grapeseed oil. Another essential way to seal is with cool water during your last and final rinse on wash day. When washing your hair it's important to first open your cuticle with warm water so you're able to cleanse your hair effectively. While your cuticle is still raised you want to pack in moisture i.e. deep conditioning which allows all that moisture to penetrate your hair shaft. Lastly you want to seal all that moisture in by rinsing your hair in cool water.
Humectants vs Anti Humectant
Humectants are products that take moisture from the air and put it in your hair. Often found in deep conditioners, creams, butters, moisturizers, etc. Humectants are moisturizing agents. You may be thinking these are great, they are, just not when it's humid outside. Humectants + humidity is definitely a recipe for frizz because as mentioned earlier, they take moisture from the air and deposit said moisture into your hair. Some common humectants found in hair products are:
- Glycerin (vegetable & animal)
- Propylene glycol
- Butylene glycol
- Panthenol vitamin b5
- Acetamide MEA
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Sodium PCA
- Diproylene glycol
- Hexylene glycol
- Triethylene glycol
- Caprylyl glycol
Some other ingredients that act as humectants:
- Mango butter
- Agave nectar
- Algae extract
- Hydrolyzed collagen
- Ceramide complex
- Coenzyme q10
Anti humectants are products that keep moisture from escaping your hair, these are sealers. As mentioned preciously, one of the ways to prevent frizz is sealing your hair. So on hot humid days anti humectants are our best friends! Some common anti humectants are:
- Hydrogenated castor oil
- Plant triglycerides - coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil & shea butter
In order to know when to use a humectant vs an anti humectant you must get familiar with dew points. Dew points pretty much measure the amount of moisture that's in the air. Most weather apps will tell you the dew point for that day. For example the current temperature in NYC is 79°F with a dew point of 69°F
If the dew point is below 35°F = use anti humectant (to keep moisture from escaping your hair since the air is so dry.)
If the dew point is between 35-50°F = use humectants (to attract moisture that's in the air.)
If the dew point is about 60°F = use anti humectants (to keep excess moisture from geeing into your hair which causes frizz.)
Incorporate More Silicones
Most naturals have a love/hate relationship with silicones. They do a wonderful job at sealing to prevent moisture from leaving your hair, they're awesome heat protectants and anti frizz agents but they are also a pain to get out of your hair, most of the time only a clarifying shampoo can remove them. Because silicones create a barrier on your hair they are a very effective anti humectants and my go to. Look for products that say "anti-frizz," "humidity control," "anti-humectant," etc.
Reduce the use of Cream Moisturizers
Due to the fact that most moisturizers contain humectants (commonly glycerin) you want to reduce their use. As we know by now humectants pull moisture from the air and put them into our hair. Substitute your moisturizers with gels that do not contain glycerin.
Incorporate More Wash & Go's
Humidity doesn't effect your natural curl pattern as much as it would do stretched styles like twistouts, braidouts, and perm rod sets. There will be frizz but you will most likely still have some definition.
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