Wendy C. Fries
Louise Chang, MD
You love your wavy hair, but the frizzy fly-aways you get when you brush those curls? Not so much.
Why does hair get frizzy, and do you really need a pile of products to keep it under control? WebMD asked hair care pros and people like you for their top tips on taming frizzy hair.
Hair is complex. It's made up of three layers and thousands of cells. But the reason it gets frizzy is pretty simple.
Your hair's outer layer -- the cuticle -- looks kind of like a shingled roof, says dermatologist Carolyn Jacob, MD. When hair is smooth, those shingles lie flat. But when you run a brush through dry, curly hair, those “shingles” lift.
To compound the problem, frizzy hair is often drier, and naturally tends to absorb moisture from humid air, says Dennis Baker, a stylist who owns Baker Lanier Salon and Day Spa in Atlanta. Again, those “shingles” lift.
Fortunately, there are ways to tame the frizz. You just have to give it a little effort.
1. Don't brush dry hair. If there's one tip repeated by just about every expert, it's this: avoid brushing hair after it dries. Brushing not only disrupts your hair's cuticle, it can also stretch hair, leading to breakage.
Instead, Connie Eeyerlin, a stylist at Dionysius Salon in Eugene, Ore., suggests towel drying hair after a shower; brushing, combing, or finger-combing it; adding a touch of your preferred conditioner or anti-frizz product, then just say no to styling with brush or comb.
2. Comb dry hair with wet fingers.If you shouldn't brush, what can you do when humidity or a brisk day leaves your hair a frizzy mess? Water is the key, says Eeyerlin. "The problem with frizzy hair is that it's dry. Water is a basic response to this basic problem." Eeyerlin suggests wetting your hands, then finger-combing to tackle frizz and tame tangles.
3. Tame with a touch of conditioner. To foil her frizz, California archivist Kimber Camacho favors watering down a bit of hair conditioner, then using her hands to apply it to just the tips of her hair.
4. Look for protein in your conditioner suggests dermatologist Jacob. A protein-infused conditioner will not only help you manage frizz, it helps create shine, too.
5. Don't over-process hair. Relaxers and straighteners can make hair brittle and lead to breakage, Jacobs says, so go easy on these products.
6. Put moisture back in your mane. Frizzy hair tends to be drier, so you need to put moisture into it. Use a conditioner, a natural oil, or a frizz cream, says stylist Baker in Atlanta. He says natural oils are better than synthetic because they are absorbed into the hair, while synthetic silicon moisturizers lay on top of the hair, making it appear dirty.
7. Stop 'cooking' your curls. "Anything that would blister your skin doesn’t feel so great on your hair either," writes Teri LaFlesh, author of Curly Like Me. To minimize frizz, LaFlesh suggests avoiding flat irons, curling irons, and limiting heat sources to a blow dryer with a diffuser.
8. Use a round brush to smooth your hair. If you spin a round brush through your hair as you blow dry it, it helps smooth the cuticles flat, says Baker.
9. Dry only the roots of your hair. To help reduce the chance of frizzy hair, Eeyerlin suggests blow drying only your roots, it gives hair lift but helps you avoid drying out the hair shaft and hair tips.
10. Go alcohol-free. Because alcohol can dry hair out, setting you up for frizz, look for alcohol-free products. That may mean switching to salon-quality shampoos, conditioners, and hairsprays, says Eeyerlin. "Salon-quality products don't have to last as long on the shelf, so they don't contain as many harsh ingredients -- like alcohol -- as supermarket and drug store products do."
11. Fight afternoon frizz by smoothing hair with a small amount of detangling spray, the kind made for baby hair. Marie Gains, a North Carolina caretaker, says "I spray a smidge of it in my hand and then smooth it down. It's very lightweight and doesn't make your hair look oily."
12. Talk to your stylist. "If what you're using works, use it," suggests stylist Eeyerlin, whether it's a pricey product or a great drug store find. But if you want help in the fight against frizzy hair, remember that your stylist is there to help and probably has a host of hints that'll help keep you frizz-free from morning to night.
SOURCES:Carolyn Jacob, MD, dermatologist, Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology.Connie Eeyerlin, hair stylist, Dionysius Salon, Eugene, Ore.Dennis Baker, stylist/owner. Baker Lanier Salon and Day Spa, Atlanta.Marie Gains, caretaker, Charlotte, N.C.Kimber Camacho, archivist, Fresno, Calif.TightlyCurly.com, "How to Take Care of Our Hair: The Rules."LaFlesh, T. Curly Like Me. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2010.
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