There are times when you need your hair to look like perfection. Maybe you have an exciting date or a big meeting at work. You take the time to put every strand in its proper place, but within minutes of going outside, the best twist out ever or the most polished blow out turns into an undefined mess. That's because humidity in the environment brings excess moisture to your hair. The humidity may be from rain, or because you live in Texas or Florida, or because you're sweatin out your hurr in a hot club. Wherever the excess moisture comes from, it's usually not enough to make your hair look wet, just enough to swell your strands and make your hair poof out. So frustrating!
Frizz Fighting Products that Really Work
Unlike many other hair care problems, the strategies for fighting frizz are more about product than technique. To protect your hair from humidity, you have to reinforce your strands with the right products. Here are the must haves:
Frizz Fighter #1: A protein conditioner/treatment
Rinse out products that contain hydrolyzed protein temporarily patch up some of the cuticle holes in porous hair. If African American hair doesn't get additional protein regularly, it will frizz out very quickly no matter what you do. Make sure to use a strengthening product at least once every 2 weeks. Salon quality protein conditioners will leave your hair smooth and strong, not stiff.
Curlisto Deep Therapy Masque, $22
Joico Moisture Recovery Conditioner for Dry Hair, $13.95
Nexxus Emergencee Strengthening Polymeric Reconstructor, $14.99
Ouidad 12 Minute Deep Treatment, $25
Frizz Fighter #2: A polyquaternium styling product with hold (for natural or texturized coils)
Usually products with "hold" leave natural hair sticky or crunchy and of course that's not good. Natural African American curls do best with mousses and gels made with holding ingredients called polyquaterniums. If you prefer all natural products that might sound like an ingredient category to avoid, but chances are you've used them before. Polyquaterniums are found in lotions, creams, shampoos, conditioners, mousses, and gels. They condition the hair by wrapping each strand in a protective film that leaves it soft, shiny, and easier to comb. There are many different types of polyquats, each with a different number. A good holding product for natural hair contains polyquaternium 4 and/or polyquaternium 11. Those specific polyquaterniums are excellent at keeping humidity from ruining your style.
Polyquaternium products should not be sticky, but they can make your hair feel crunchy when it dries. Don't worry, you can get rid of that stiffness if you "scrunch out the crunch". Here's how you do it: Once your hair is dry, apply a small dab of oil or a silicone serum to your palms and gather your hair like you're about to put it in a ponytail. As you run your hands over your coils, you'll loosen up the top layer of the styling product so that your hair can be fluffy and have more movement. Keep scrunching and smoothing until your hair is soft but still defined. It takes less than a minute to "scrunch out the crunch", but it makes the difference between soft and stiff hair. And more importantly, your wash n' go or twist out should be able to last through an important event or long day.
Curls Gel-les'c Curl Serum/Gel, $25
Motions Light Styling Foam, $4.49
Nexxus Gorgeous Curls Curl Enhancing Foam Styler, $11.99
Pantene Curly Hair Series Curl Defining Mousse, $4.99
Frizz Fighter #3: Hairspray
Hairspray is the original humidity blocker. As long as you hold the bottle the instructed 12 inches away (basically as far away as you can), you'll cover your hair with extra strong humidity protection. The major problem with hairspray is that it causes your strands to stick together and it really doesn't leave the hair touchably soft. When using hairspray to protect your style, be disciplined and don't touch your hair after it's done. Running your fingers through hairsprayed hair will cause breakage. Therefore, you should only use hairspray when you need extra assurance that your hair will hold up (first day at work, weddings, promotional events, etc.). Also, unlike polyquaternium products, hairspray doesn't rinse out. You have to shampoo it out, so only use hairspray if you can wash your hair within the following 2 days.
L'Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray, $14.99
Nexxus Comb Thru Natural Hold Design and Finishing Mist, $10.99
Sebastian Shaper Plus Hairspray, $15.95
Tresemme Tres Two Extra Hold Hairspray, $4.99
Frizz Fighter #4: Living Proof Products
Living Proof is a company started in 2008 by a group of expert scientists who create "high-tech" hair products. The active ingredient in the products, PolyfluoroEster, is designed to reinforce the cuticle layer of your hair to lock in essential moisture, while blocking excess humidity from the weather. Living Proof products can actually deliver amazing results as long as you follow the instructions and use enough to thoroughly coat your hair. Unfortunately, the products are expensive (a 2 oz sample costs $15) and you may need to use a lot to get the intended results. Because of the price, they're not a great solution for everyday, but think of Living Proof products as your secret weapon.
No Frizz Leave-In Conditioner, $24 (for all hair types)
No Frizz Wave, Curl Styling Cream, $26 (for natural or texturized coils)
No Frizz Wave, Curl Styling Treatment, $26 (for natural coils)
No Frizz Straight Styling Cream, $26 (for relaxed or texturized hair)
No Frizz Straight Styling Treatment, $26 (for natural hair)
Straight Styling Hairspray, $29 (for all hair types)
The inherent porosity of African American hair makes fighting humidity very difficult, especially if you have fine hair, which doesn't like to hold its shape anyway. Good hair care techniques and a consistent regimen of shampooing, oil treatments, and trims will give you the best foundation for healthy hair and long lasting styles. After that, the secret to success is careful product selection and thorough application. Sorry product junkies, time for another trip to the beauty supply!
Updated September 10, 2011