One of the most common hair care problems is frizz. If you are going to tame frizz and get the best looking hair you can, it helps to know what’s causing your frizz in the first place. In this post, we’ll take a scientific look at the causes of frizzy hair, the strategies for solving frizz, the types of products you should use and the ingredients that work best.
What is frizzy hair?
To some extent everyone has frizzy hair, or rather frizzy hairs. Some have a lot more than others. Most simply, frizzy hair is hair that is messy, tangled and doesn’t fit the proper pattern of non-frizzy hair. It can be stray strands of hair that stick out away from the head which is a problem for people with straight hair styles. Or frizz can be strands of wavy or curly hair that don’t align properly and is characterized by an undesired increase in volume.
It is more often a problem for people with curly or wavy hair. Of course, since no one has perfectly straight hair under the right conditions frizzy hair can be a problem for anyone.
What causes frizzy hair?
There are three main causes of frizzy hair which include
- Hair Damage
- Hair Genetics
Overall, curly or wavy hair tends to experience frizz more than straight hair. The shape of your hair is determined by the shape of the hair follicles on your scalp. These are the little tubes under your scalp from which your hair grows. The more rounded your hair follicles, the straighter your hair. The more flattened the follicle, the more curly your hair will be. The shape of your hair follicles are determined by your own personal genetics. Unfortunately, that means there is not much you can do about this cause of frizzy hair. You can chemically straighten the hair which will reduce frizz, but all the new hair that comes out of your head will have the same frizzing problem.
However, the shape of your hair is only one factor for responsible for frizz. You could have genetically frizz prone hair but still not experience frizz. That’s because there are other conditions that can affect whether you have frizz or not.
The amount of moisture (humidity) and temperature in the air can impact hair in different ways. It can make fine, curly hair fall flat and it can make smooth, straight hair frizz out.
The reason for this is because of the protein makeup of your hair. The inner portion of your hair fibers is called the cortex and it is composed of two kinds of proteins, the orthocortex and the paracortex. These two regions are sandwiched together inside your hair.
When it’s humid, moisture penetrates into the hair and is absorbed by these ortho and para regions. Unfortunately, these areas absorb water differently, so they don’t swell the same. One part may absorb a lot of moisture and swell a lot, while the other stays relatively unchanged. This difference in swelling causes the hair fiber to bend or twist to one side or the other. So, even if your hair starts out straight, high humidity can make it bend and twist and be generally unruly. Since everyone has different amounts of ortho and para protein segments in their hair, everyone can have a different reaction to humidity.
The third main factor affecting whether or not your hair will frizz is hair damage. All things being equal, damaged hair will be more frizzy than non-damaged hair. Hair damage refers to damage in the protein structure of your hair. Damaged hair will have cuticles that are lifted off the surface or chipped. Non-damaged hair has a smooth, even layer of cuticles on the outer layer. These cuticles protect the inner hair cortex and also prevent moisture from being absorbed. As we saw in the previous section, it’s the uneven absorption of moisture that is responsible for causing frizz.
Hair can get damaged in a number of ways including
- Combing or brushing
- Washing hair
- Blow drying / Flat iron
- Chemical treatments (Relaxing, Perms)
- Color treatment (Permanent & Semi permanent)
- Environmental damage (UV, pollution, air)
All of these factors can chip little pieces off the outer layer of hair exposing the inner fiber layer and wrecking havoc on your hair. Damaged hair is less shiny, feels rougher, harder to comb, and much more likely to frizz.
Strategies for stopping frizzy hair
Now that you know the 3 main causes of frizz, here are some of the strategies you can follow to stop it from happening.
Genetics – Unfortunately, you can’t do anything to fight the basic genetic structure of your hair. However, you can chemically treat your hair to make it straighter. This causes more damage but it will also reduce frizz. This is not the best strategy.
Environment – Stay away from humid places. Lower humidity will result in less frizz. Of course, moving to a low humid environment is probably more drastic a solution than most would want.
Damage – Fortunately, you can do something about hair damage to fight frizz no matter what your genetics are or where you live. There are two ways to stop frizz. First, you need to protect your hair so you minimize damage. Next, you need to correct the damage you already have by fixing the cuticle layer so that it is smooth, flattened and water-proof. This is done by creating a thin, clear, light-weight coating on the hair fibers.
What ingredients work best on frizzy hair?
For an anti-frizz ingredient to work it has to be left behind on the hair. In our Phique shampoo we’ve formulated the product using three ingredients that can stay behind on the hair and reduce damage. These include
- Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride
These ingredients are attracted to the damaged segments of hair where they bind to the hair and leave a smooth coating. These ingredients have been scientifically proven to reverse the effects of damage.
However, the reality is that shampoos aren’t great for stopping frizz. The whole point of a shampoo is to remove things from your hair, so that makes it harder to leave anything behind. To really fight frizzy hair, you need to use a conditioner. That’s why we created Phique conditioner. This product will leave a lightweight, clear, and flexible coating on the hair fibers that inhibits water from getting into the hair fiber and stops frizz before it starts. The three part, frizz fighting conditionings system includes
- Behentrimonium Chloride
- Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
Each of these ingredients works in a different way to combat frizz. The Behentrimonium Chloride is attracted to damaged sections on hair. Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine is also attracted to damaged hair but is charged in a way that inhibits static buildup. And the Dimethicone provides that crucial lightweight coating that inhibits humidity and fights frizz.