The science of frizzy hair: What causes the dreaded frizz, and how to get rid of it

9th September 2023 | Author: Jenny Tai

Picture the scene: You’re getting ready for a much-needed night out. You’ve showered and put the effort into styling your hair. With your outfit on, you leave the house, and almost as soon as you step outside your hair can only be described as “Monica in the Bahamas.”

Your perfectly coiffeured hair is now out of control because of the dreaded frizz. 

It doesn’t matter what hair type you have – naturally straight, wavy or curly hair – all of us will have experienced frizz at some point and it’s annoying AF. However, some people are more prone to frizz and it can depend on a number of variables. 

To get to the bottom of what causes frizz, and how to get rid of it, we spoke to Anabel Kingsley, Philip Kingsley Brand President and Consultant Trichologist, to learn more. 

FURTHER READING: Best anti-frizz products: The shampoos, serums, sprays and creams that keep frizz at bay

The science of frizzy hair

Regardless of what type of hair you have, frizziness is caused by a lack of moisture. Hair is covered by what can be described as scales on a fish and when the strands are healthy and hydrated, these scales lay flat. When such hair is viewed under a microscope, the surface appears smooth.

However, when hair becomes dry, damaged or lacks moisture, it swells.

In particular, “frizz can happen when temporary changes occur to the hydrogen bonds in the hair,” Anabel told mamabella. “These are weak bonds found in strands of hair that are easily broken by the addition of water and re-set by application of heat.”

Water gets absorbed and the hydrogen bonds break down, causing the “scales” rise up and this causes the strands to become rough and frizzy.

FURTHER READING: How to hair oilHow to protect your hair from pollution | Do you have combination hair?

What causes frizz?

frizzy-hairGetty Images/iStockphoto

Frizz is often an indicator that our hair is damaged, dry, and porous. And the more porous it is, the frizzier it becomes. If you’re not sure about your hair’s porosity, take our hair porosity test

Although frizz happens to all of us, if your hair is naturally curly, it means it’s drier than straight and wavy hair. This makes it more prone to frizz.

If you’ve recently bleached your hair, or it’s damaged from being overstyled, this also causes it to become drier, which increases the chances of frizz.

During wet, humid weather, dry hair attempts to absorb the moisture out of the air. This causes each hair’s cuticle to swell, increasing frizz further.

And then anything that dries out hair can also make frizz worse. This includes shampoos that are alkaline and products that contain alcohol.

Heat stylers also dry out hair and while it might give the appearance of a smooth finish, as Anabel continues: “heat styling our hair is only temporary and as soon as moisture in the hair (humidity) touches it, frizz appears.”

Interestingly, Anabel told us that a rise in temperature alone doesn’t have much of an effect on frizz. What it does do, however, is cause our heads to sweat and this can cause frizz. 

FURTHER READING: Best hair oil: The best hair oils for thinning hair, boosting hair growth, frizz and more

How to get rid of frizz

Although frizz often appears when we least expect it – the most effective way to combat frizz is to remain in a cool environment – there are some steps we can take to prevent it from happening, or get rid of frizz when it hits.

You can read more about each of our recommendations below in our guide to the best anti-frizz products.

FURTHER READING: Best hair moisturiser UK: Top-rated hair moisturisers for all hair types

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