How Humidity Is Ruining Your Hair—And What to Do About It
Here's how to fight back against frizz, experts say.
Summer comes with a lot of perks: trips to the beach, slow strolls to the ice cream parlor, and vacations, to name a few. Of course, this time of year also comes with a handful of drawbacks, like sunburns, sweat, and—you guessed it—bad hair days. As temperatures soar, heat and humidity can sow chaos in your hair care routine, taking your regular styling options right off the table and leaving you with an unmanageable mess of unruly strands. The good news? Experts say there are several strategies to taming your tresses and looking your best all year round—including the hottest months of the summer. Read on to learn how humidity is ruining your hair and what you can do about it.
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Humidity causes frizz.
Frizz is perhaps the most common hair problem caused by humidity and one of the most difficult to combat. People with fine and medium textured hair may be most prone to this reaction.
"Hair is porous, which means it absorbs moisture from its environment. When the air is humid, hair absorbs the excess moisture [in the air] causing the hair shaft to swell," explains Stefan Bianchi, a seasoned hair stylist and head of Bellezza Mondo Salon. "This causes the cuticle or outer layer to open up and let in more water, leading to the hair appearing frizzy."
Bianchi, who also serves as an advisor for the men's grooming site Tools of Men, says there are several ways to fight back against frizz.
"For all hair types, using anti-humidity products such as serums or sprays can provide a protective barrier that locks in the style and prevents the hair from absorbing excess moisture," he says, adding that they can help maintain style despite humid conditions.
He adds that individuals with naturally curly hair should also plan on using a leave-in conditioner to help reduce frizz by doubling down on moisture.
Humidity can make coarse hair textures feel heavier.
Unfortunately, people with thick or coarse hair are not exempt from the effects of a humid day.
"Humidity can weigh down coarse strands, sticking them together and making them feel heavy and lifeless," says Ghanima Abdullah, a cosmetologist at The Right Hairstyles. "Instead of it sticking up, the water adheres to it and it becomes even heavier."
The key, experts say, is to keep your hair deeply moisturized using hair oils and other restorative products.
"Coarse or thick hair typically requires more moisture, so incorporating hydrating masks or deep conditioning treatments can prevent the hair from absorbing excess moisture from the environment," says Bianchi.
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Humidity can ruin your heat-styled hair.
Heat styling your hair on a humid day is a Sisyphean task—just as you finish your work, it becomes undone.
"The extra moisture from the humid environment can cause styled hair to lose its shape. Whether your hair is straightened or curled, the absorbed water from the atmosphere can disrupt the hydrogen bonds that keep the hair styled, causing it to revert back to its natural state," explains Bianchi.
Your best bet on highly humid days is to embrace your natural hair texture, rather than fighting against it. However, a smoothing serum or hairspray can go a long way in providing definition for a more polished, natural look. Keratin treatments such as Brazilian blowouts also offer a one-off solution for those who truly detest any signs of frizz.
Humidity can create a cycle of damage.
Humid days can also damage your hair, as the back-and-forth swelling of the strands can make them more prone to breakage, experts warn. This can create a cycle of bad hair days since damaged hair is also more prone to frizz and flatness.
If you have gray hair, which tends to be drier and more brittle to begin with, Cody Renegar, an L.A.-based celebrity hairstylist, previously suggested to Best Life using a deep conditioning shampoo and conditioner, followed by a natural hair oil.
Finally, Destiny Longa, founder of Healing Curls in Boca Raton, Florida, adds that if your hair becomes damaged during the summer months, you may need to adjust how often you wash and condition your tresses. Aim to shampoo your hair just once or twice per week, conditioning consistently in between, until you've restored your hair's natural moisture and sheen.