June 21, 2023 6 min read
When you work hard to have great hair and a perfect ‘do, it can feel like a personal attack when your hair frizzes out. You may ask, “Why is my hair doing this to me?”, but really you should be wondering what you have done to your hair. Below, we will discuss the factors that cause frizzy hair and what you can do to combat this objectionable condition.
First and foremost, we want to discuss how the foundational elements of your hair can determine frizziness. When discussing the genetic makeup of your hair, it is not simply referring to hair type, but also porosity. Porosity is the most important genetic factor in determining the likelihood of frizz. Hair strands consist of three layers: The medulla, the inner part of the hair shaft; the cortex, the middle and thickest layer of the shaft; and, most importantly, the cuticle, which is the outer layer of hair. Imagine the hair cuticle as the trunk of a palm tree: it has many overlapping layers to create a whole.
If your cuticle layers are tightly packed, you have low porosity hair. If the cuticle layers aren’t as tight and there is a distinction between each layer, you have medium porosity hair. High porosity hair looks more like a palm tree with its layers pulled back.
The ideal state of the cuticle is medium porosity, as this means your hair can absorb and retain moisture. A good indicator of medium porosity hair is hair that holds heat styles and hair color well. With low porosity hair, you will find that products do not absorb well, as they cannot penetrate the shaft. While low porosity hair may appear healthy due to the tight cuticle layers, more often than not, it presents as dry and breakage-prone. High porosity hair absorbs, but does not maintain moisture. High porosity hair is breakage-prone and dry. This means that the leading genetic factors in frizzy hair are having high or low porosity hair cuticles.
The only thing that can mess with the genetics of your hair is a chemical process. This means that if you color, bleach, relax, or perm your hair, you can alter your porosity (and not for the better!).
How do you figure out your hair's porosity?
There's a simple test: fill a glass with water and put a single strand of your clean, dry hair in it, then see how long it takes to sink. If the strand floats at the top, it's likely low porosity. If the strand quickly sinks to the bottom, it's likely high porosity. If the strand does something in between and slowly sinks to the bottom, it's likely medium porosity. Use the below image for reference.
Believe it or not, environmental elements can affect the state of your hair. Humidity is the first and most obvious environmental factor. While it is normal for hair to absorb moisture from humidity, when you have high porosity hair, too much moisture can seep into your strands and cause them to swell. The swelling is what causes that frizzy, disheveled look.
UV Rays can also affect your hair. Excessive sun exposure can dry out your strands, causing split ends, thinning, and frizz.
We generally consider it a positive to have clean hair. After all, hygiene is important, right? So, why would cleansing have a negative effect on hair? If you wash your hair every day, you may be drying out your hair with a harsh shampoo. If you are someone who shampoos everyday, make sure you are using shampoos that are free of sulfates (i.e. silicone). While sulfates are what help cleanse the scalp and clarify hair, if used too often, they can leave hair feeling dry and brittle. Even if you only shampoo a few times per week, certain ingredients like dimethicone (which is another silicone) can build up on your scalp and hair, thus drying out your beautiful locks. However, even with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo, it is not wise to shampoo every day. Everything in moderation!
Even though a steaming-hot shower can feel relaxing and like one of life’s simple pleasures, it may also be wreaking havoc on your skin and hair. Blisteringly hot water can strip your hair of necessary natural oils, which will leave you with a dried out tangle.
For those who like to cut down on heat styling, you may be doing yourself a disservice by towel- drying. The friction caused by rubbing your hair with regular terry cloth towels can aggravate the cuticles in medium and high porosity hair. If you want to speed up the air-drying process without irritating your hair, try using a microfiber hair towel; the smoother, gentler fabric is less likely to cause your hair to frizz. Remember: the more open the cuticle, the more likely to have frizzy, dry hair, so be gentle.
Whereas genetics and environmental elements may not have been as obvious a factor in frizzy hair, we have finally reached the most obvious frizz-causing category. When it comes to styling, the ways to damage your hair are immeasurable, but the damage is mostly due to “user error”. The main issues are not only using the wrong tools and heat settings, but over-styling. Over-styling means doing too many passes on the same section of hair and exposing your hair to excessive heat damage.
Daily heat styling is the easiest way to dry out your hair. Whether you blow dry, iron, or curl; too much direct heat can damage your tresses. If you absolutely feel the need to heat style every day, make sure you have done your due diligence when researching the proper heat styling tool for your hair. Using the wrong tools and not understanding the proper temperature at which o style can scorch your hair, causing damaged cuticles and excessive breakage, which will lead to frizz.
Processing your hair (whether by perming, bleaching, coloring, or relaxing), if done incorrectly or too frequently, is the easiest way to cause lasting hair damage. Bleach in particular is known to irritate the hair cuticle and cause dry, frizzy hair. The more often you chemically treat your hair, the more likely it is that you will alter the structure of your hair.
The act of simply brushing your hair can cause frizz. If you have wavy or curly hair, the best option is to comb out hair in the shower, while you are conditioning. This is a great way to not only distribute the conditioner, but avoid deconstructing curls, thereby causing frizz.
As with shampoo, harsh chemicals in styling products can dry out your mane. Drugstore gels and hairsprays that contain a high amount of alcohol may be contributing to dry hair and more frizz. The long term effect being the opposite of taming locks. The more porous your hair, the more likely the alcohol will be absorbed into the strand and suck the moisture out of your hair.
There are “good’ and “bad” alcohols. Cetearyl alcohol is one of the good alcohols and is used as a preservative. So, there is no need to be alarmed when you find this in the middle of your product’s list of ingredients. If you see the words “ethanol”, “propyl alcohol”, or “propanol” on the list, put the product back on the shelf and run far, far away.
You wouldn’t think sleeping could damage your hair, but if you are sleeping on rough cotton sheets, it can! Many people swear by silk pillowcases. While it may seem extravagant or entirely superfluous, it is actually a simple and effective way to protect your hair overnight. Cotton pillowcases can snag on hair and absorb natural oils. This means that simply laying your lustrous lucks on the wrong pillowcase can lead to a head full of frizz!
Now that you know the many potential causes of frizzy hair, what steps can you take to protect yourself? Here are some ideas to keep your hair healthy and frizz free:
As you cannot change your genetic makeup (no matter how hard some of us may try), the best thing you can do for your hair is treat it with kindness. The key to fighting frizz is not only understanding what type of hair you have, but how to avoid damage from outside factors. Limited heat and sun exposure are key to preventing dryness and breakage. Likewise, cleansing and styling with care will help treat and prevent damage. With a little awareness and diligence, you too can have healthy, shiny, frizz-free hair!
Comments will be approved before showing up.
February 02, 2024 6 min readRead More
January 30, 2024 8 min readRead More
January 29, 2024 6 min readRead More