How to fix frizzy curly hair
If you have frizzy curly hair and want to learn how to tame it, you’ve come to the right place. This article identifies the main culprits of frizz and how you can combat it.
Before we move on please be aware that some frizz is completely normal. It’s all part and parcel of having curly hair, and it can even be functional - helping to create a more voluminous look! However, if you feel that your frizz is in excess, there may be an underlying reason including dryness, damage, humidity and product ingredients. The woman in the image header for example has perfectly functional frizz. It's only an issue that needs to be dealt with if you feel that there's an underlying issue such as damage or dryness.
Frizz caused by dryness
Frizz caused by dryness is due to a lack of moisture in your hair. When your hair is desperate for moisture it will start sticking out into the atmosphere in an attempt to get moisture from the air, creating frizz. Curly hair is more susceptible to dryness than straight hair as the natural oils and sebum produced by the scalp struggle to make their way down the curly hair shaft. Moisture comes from water, so wash day is your opportunity to get that hydration back into your strands.
How to fix frizz caused by dryness:
If when you stretch your hair it immediately snaps without stretching at all, your hair has lost its elasticity because of a lack of hydration and moisture. What you need to do to combat your frizz from dryness is introduce moisture-rich ingredients into your routine such as a good deep conditioner to rehydrate your curls.
Water and squish to condish
Hydration comes from water, so ensure you use water-based conditioners and get your hair soaking wet to aid absorption. In addition to that, using the 'squish to condish' method can help to get more moisture into the hair. This is where you squish and scrunch the conditioner into your hair, adding more water until you get a really good squishy sound. This helps to fully saturate you hair enabling better hydration.
Seal in moisture
When using heavy emollients make sure to clarify regularly (roughly once a month) to remove build up. This will ensure further hydration can enter your cuticles on future washdays! See the last point on this for more on buildup.
Frizz caused by protein overload
If your hair feels very brittle and straw-like, this could be because of a protein overload. An excess of protein builds up on the hair shaft and creates a solid, stiff layer that makes the hair feel dry. Excess protein prevents water from fully absorbing into the hair follicles causing further dryness.
Protein overload is caused by excessive use of protein-rich products. Some hair types are more susceptible to protein overload such as low porosity hair because the hair cuticles are tightly shut and the strands are already healthy and strong.
On the other hand, high porosity hair responds very well to protein as the protein fills in the gaps in the cuticles providing strength.
How to fix frizz caused by protein overload:
Clarifying your hair with a clarifying shampoo first will help to remove the protein buildup.
Add more moisture into your routine
To fix frizz caused by protein overload you will need to add more moisture into your routine and lay off the protein-heavy products until your hair is balanced again. Opt for a deep conditioner and leave in conditioner that are protein-free.
Frizz caused by damage
Heat damage, chemical damage, sun damage, damage from brushing, damage from the elements - you can pretty much experience damage to your hair from anything. Even over-moisturising your hair can lead to damage. When hair becomes damaged the cuticles open and roughen up making it easier for frizz and tangles.
The more open the cuticles are the more porous the hair is. This means that moisture can easily leave the hair strands causing the hair to become dry.
Please note that perfectly healthy hair can genetically be a higher porosity and your hair porosity can be different across your head. For example, your ends may be a higher porosity due to excess damage. Porosity can also change over time.
In bleaching and colour treatments, the bonds that make up the cellular membrane are broken so that colour can either be deposited or removed and as that membrane comes back together many bonds can no longer fuse.
How to fix frizz caused by damage:
Be gentle with your hair
Be gentle while brushing your hair and ensure to protect it at night. Detangle and dry your hair as gently as you can to avoid further breakage and lay off excess heat. Opting for a cotton T-shirt towel instead of a traditional terry towel will reduce breakage as its smooth texture is gentle on the hair strands.
Use silk accessories
Protect your hair at night by sleeping on a silk pillowcase to avoid excess frizz. and breakage when your hair is damaged.
If your hair is damaged then protein will be your best friend. It smooths over the hair cuticles by filling in all of the little gaps, you can think of it like plaster for your walls filling over cracks. Protein essentially strengthens the hair and repairs it. Products marketed as strengthening, fortifying and repairing will likely have protein in. Ingredients to look out for are as follows:
- Hydrolysed oat, wheat, quinoa and soy protein
- Hydrolysed keratin and collagen
- Hydrolysed silk protein
- Amino acids
An ingredients list is written in order of the highest to lowest quantity. If you're looking for a protein-rich product, aim for ones that have protein listed in the first 5 or 6 ingredients.
Get a cut
Unfortunately once the damage is done, there’s only so much you can do to improve the hair. Hair is essentially a collection of dead cells, and once the hair has grown out of the root it can only be treated topically to maintain the health of the hair.
Once severe damage is done and your cuticles are completely blown out and fragmented you can only really cut it to remove the damage. If you don’t it could actually cause new healthy hair to become damaged as the bonds keep splitting up the hair shaft.
Use bond builders to repair chemically damaged hair
Frizz caused by humidity (or lack thereof)
A you'll probably know all too well, humidity can cause frizz.
If the air is humid, your hair will stick out in the hope to get some of that moisture from the air.
Unfortunately, certain ingredients in products known as humectants can aggravate frizz caused by humidity.
So, why are humectants an issue? Humectants are very effective in attracting and retaining water, and that’s why they’re excellent in hair care products. But, if the atmosphere is either very humid or too dry it can cause frizz.
If it’s very humid, the humectant continues to attract moisture from the atmosphere causing your hair to swell with excess moisture causing your hair to become frizzy.
If the atmosphere is very dry, the humectant almost works in the opposite way drawing moisture out of your hair and giving it to the atmosphere instead. Same outcome - FRIZZ.
The main humectants known to cause frizz are glycerin and Propylene Glycol.
How to fix frizz caused humidity:
Avoid certain humectants
If the dew points are either very high or very low, avoid humectants like glycerin and Propylene Glycol in any product ingredients that you don’t fully wash out of your hair. You may need to avoid them altogether if you find your hair is overly sensitive.
Protect your hair
In the winter, protect your hair when you are outside in the elements with a satin-lined hat.
Style hair in the right conditions
Try to style your hair if you can in a similar humidity level to the atmosphere outside - so instead of styling in your very humid shower room, style in another room. If you can keep the window open a bit so the levels of humidity are more similar, even better!
Seal hair with an oil
After scrunching out the crunch, seal your hair with an oil, this will lock in the moisture from your wash day, but also act as a barrier to either the humid atmosphere, stopping more moisture from being absorbed, or if it’s a dry atmosphere it stops the moisture in your hair from escaping. Righteous Roots oil is fantastic for sealing in moisture.
Buildup, whether it be from products, hard water, dirt, dust oils, silicones, oils and butters can all cause frizz. This is because when the hair has buildup on the strands further hydration cannot enter and therefore the hair becomes dry overtime. (Read point one!)
How to fix frizz caused by buildup:
With buildup, the first thing you will need to do is use a clarifying and chelating shampoo. This will remove all buildup including hard water and mineral deposits.
The Noughty Detox Dynamo shampoo is both clarifying and chelating, so it will remove hard water buildup as well as build up from products. You can get 15% off with code ABOUTTHECURL15.
Another fantastic clarifying and chelating shampoo is the detox shampoo by OUAI.
After clarifying, you need to replenish the hydration that your curls have struggled to get to to the buildup. Clarifying shampoos can also be on the dryer side due to their stripping nature, so it's important to get the moisture back in.
It's a good idea to follow up with a deep conditioner, leaving on the hair under a shower cap for 30 minutes to an hour.