How I Deal with Frizzy Hair in Humid Hawaii
- May 17, 2021
- The Glambassador
Have you ever heard this saying? “You can’t control everything. Your hair was put on your head to remind you of this.” Well since I’ve been living in Hawaii for a little less than two years, my control issues have certainly been tested on this account. I’m sure you’ve heard me complain about the humidity and the wind here and how it affects my hairstyles.
It’s starting to get warmer and considerably more humid here already, so I thought this would be a great time to do a post about my trials and tribulations and how I deal with frizz in Hawaii.
Spoiler alert! I do not have a secret product that will automatically tame your frizz. What I do have, is years and years of experience dealing with frizz in many different climates with my crazy curly hair.
But fear not, I do have some product recommendations for you as well as other tips and tricks (plus a hair tutorial in the video below) for dealing with frizz.
You know I couldn’t have a post like this without bringing in some science. It always helps me to understand why and how things are working with my hair.
What is humidity?
Simply, humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. If there is a lot of water vapor in the air, for example, right before or after it rains, if you live near a large body of water or in a tropical or sub-tropical climate, the humidity level will be high. The higher the humidity, the wetter it feels outside.
How does it affect the hair?
Each strand of hair is made up of lots of longitudinal tubes of keratin proteins bundled together.
Humidity in the air changes the way these protein bundles in the hair bind together.
These protein bundles are held together by two types of bonds: strong disulfide bonds (which are only broken and reformed by permanent curling and straightening treatments) and weaker hydrogen bonds, broken by water.
If you’ve seen my wet set video, you’ll remember that I talked about these hydrogen bonds and how this process works with a true wet set to give you a stronger curl hold.
Just to re-cap, when you wet your hair, it breaks the hydrogen bonds, making the hair more malleable, and as it dries, new bonds are formed in the new shape the hair is placed in (i.e., around a foam roller or in a pin curl) and it will stay in that shape until it becomes wet again.
When there is moisture in the air, the hydrogen bonds begin to break. The outer layer of the hair takes in the moisture from the air, causing the hair to swell and frizz as the bonds are starting to break. The cuticle layers of your hair should ideally lie flat, but they open up and become raised when damaged or exposed to moisture.
All types of hair experience some hair swelling in response to humidity, although the curlier your hair is originally, the curlier it will become in the context of humidity as it’s trying to revert to its original curl pattern. If you have naturally straight hair, humidity will cause your curls to drop and create frizz.
Typically, hair starts to be affected when the humidity level is above 60%. Here in Hawaii, the average humidity level is about 70%, and this is year-round, so there really isn’t any respite for me. Add in the constant wind and added salt in the air; let’s just say my hair is not a happy camper.
But humidity isn’t the only cause of frizz.
There are a number of reasons that your hair can be frizzy. Frizz can also be caused by dry hair that lacks moisture.
This could be from:
- Over washing your hair
- Using sulfate-based shampoos
- Washing your hair with water that’s too hot
- Using products that contain the wrong kind of alcohol
- Damage from using heat styling
- Having hard water
- Product build-up on the hair
- And even using a regular terry cloth towel to dry your hair
Washing your hair too often, using water that is too hot, and using shampoos that include sulfates, dries out your hair by stripping the hair of its natural oils. Sulfates are strong detergents and foaming agents often added to shampoos. Choosing a sulfate-free shampoo and washing your hair less frequently using cool water can make a big difference in the look and health of your hair.
Not all alcohols are bad for your hair
Using products that contain a lot of alcohol will also dry the hair out. But not all alcohols are bad for your hair.
Short-chain alcohols evaporate quickly, so they are often used in hair and skincare products to decrease drying time once the product is applied. These alcohols wick moisture from hair which causes the cuticle to roughen and leaves your hair dry, brittle, and frizzy.
Long-chain alcohols or Fatty alcohols are commonly derived from natural sources such as vegetable oils. Fatty alcohols act as thickening agents, giving products a rich, creamy consistency. Fatty alcohols add slip to products making detangling much easier and provide hydrating properties which absorb and lock in moisture keeping the hair from drying out.
Use of heat tools should be minimized
We all know that using heat tools can damage the hair and cause the hair to break and contribute to frizz. So if you absolutely need to use heat tools make sure you use a good heat protectant product and try setting your hot tools below 300 degrees to avoid damage.
Apple cider vinegar rinse for removing product buildup
If you are noticing product buildup on your hair you could try a simple apple cider vinegar rinse, I do this every few months, just to rebalance my hair and scalp and removed any excess product buildup. Make sure you use Unfiltered Raw Apple Cider Vinegar for the most benefits.
Add 3-4 tablespoons of ACV to 1 -1.5 cups of filtered water. I find it easier to apply with a plastic squeeze bottle.
Just wash and condition your hair normally, then tilt your head back and pour on the ACV solution making sure you are coating all of your hair and scalp. I like to comb it through just to make sure I’m getting all of my hair covered. You can leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse it out with cool water. Then style as usual. The vinegar smell dissipates once your hair dries.
Now that we understand what frizz is, what can cause it, and how humidity works on the hair.
Let’s talk a bit about products.
As I mentioned, I don’t have the magic cure for frizz, and to be honest, I tend to use several different products depending on what look I want and what is happening with my hair. Again, I have very thick, naturally curly hair that tends to be dry and I do color my hair so my cleansing products need to be hydrating and color protectant.
These are some of the products I’ve been using with some success. To find links to all of these products and more of my favorites, click here.
Shampoos, Conditioners & Co-washes
Although I do think it’s important to try and mitigate any damage to my hair that this sea air, wind, and humidity may be causing, my best tip for dealing with frizz is to adapt your hairstyles, so you don’t have to worry so much about how frizzy your hair is. I use hairnets pretty much daily to contain my hair and keep it from getting too poofy. Here’s a quick tutorial of how I’ve been styling my hair lately.
Snoods and turbans are also incredibly helpful for hiding your hair if its not looking its best.
Be sure to check out the video below for a great hair tutorial using a hairnet. Here are a few hairstyles that are great for containing frizzy hair.
And just a gentle reminder that humans have battled frizz since the dawn of time. I know that we love to look at the old Hollywood movie stars for inspiration and swoon over their smooth locks and perfectly coiffed hair. But it’s important to remember that these are staged photographs, with professional hairstylists at the ready to tackle errant hairs and tamp down flyaways. This was NOT how everyday women looked. So please keep in mind that these women also serve as inspiration, and sometimes you just have to embrace to floof!
Now you are armed and ready with knowledge, product suggestions and gorgeous hairstyles to start to take control and combat your frizz. I know this was a lot of information, so feel free to save this video to come back to and make sure you head over to my blog, I’ve created a blog post to accompany this video, with links and all the information easily contained for you so you can refer back to it if needed.
I’d love to hear from you about the products, techniques or hairstyles that you use to combat frizz.
Deb Kessler17th May 2021 - 7:49 am
Thanks for the fabulous suggestions and product list. With summer weather on the way these are all great ideas and items to have on hand.
Johanne Kemp17th May 2021 - 9:46 am
Thank you for all the information. I live in wet, windy, coastal Cornwall UK – hair frizz is a daily battle. I don’t have naturally curly hair but have permed it myself for around 35 years. I am happy with my hair but for the wind & wet, going away up country where its drier is always a treat for me as my set would last 7/10 days easy. BUT now I have discovered your tutorials about pomade, leave in hair oils, etc my life has been revolutionised. Frizz I can control & have great hair styles! Thank you so much.
The Glambassador17th May 2021 - 3:07 pm
I’m so happy this information is helpful to you.
Jennifer18th Aug 2021 - 5:19 am
I love the information provided here and your product list. I also love your naturally curly hair. It is my dream hair. I have always adored clothing and hairstyles from the 30’s- 40’s. Your wet set roller tutorial explained so many mistakes I have made trying to do sponge rollers. Your site is wonderfully professional and your looks put together with such attention and detail.