Let’s start this off with a reminder that frizz is natural and beautiful. But my guess is you’ve come to this article because you’re looking to try a particular frizz-free style. It’s your prerogative to embrace frizzies and flyaways on a day-to-day basis and still want to try a slicked look every now and then. So here’s what to know.
You might be familiar with frizz and what it looks like, but understanding what exactly causes it is key when trying to work with it. Allow me to explain: When the outermost layer of your hair (called the cuticle) is raised, moisture enters the strand and causes it to swell and create the frizzy effect you’re familiar with seeing. So, what can you do to maintain smooth cuticles? Celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend, New York-based stylist Mark Garrison, and Ursula Stephen, who works with Ciara and Kerry Washington, offer up their expert tricks for fighting frizz.
While you’re washing your hair…
1. Choose a sulfate-free, glycerin-packed shampoo.
Shampoos with sulfates strip and dehydrate your strands, which is the opposite of you want when looking to maintain moisture. Instead, look for one with glycerin high up in the ingredient list (the closer ingredients are to the top of the list, the more concentrated they are), since it helps combat frizz by penetrating the hair shaft and hydrating it from the inside out. It also creates a protective coating over the outside of the hair shaft, so it doesn’t break, says Townsend. Try Honest Deeply Nourishing Hypoallergenic Shampoo and Body Wash.
2. Don’t skip conditioner.
It’s all about depositing moisture in your hair, or else the cuticle will open up to let moisture from the air in, turning your hair from smooth to frizzy. Look for a conditioner that contains glycerin as well as other hydrating ingredients (like coconut oil and shea butter), and apply it from midshaft down to your ends, keeping it away from your roots if you’re worried about it weighing down your hair. Try Carol’s Daughter Sacred Tiare Anti-Breakage & Anti-Frizz Fortifying Conditioner.
3. But do skip shampoo.
You might think your hair needs to be shampooed several times a week but it doesn’t. Every two days, rinse your hair with only conditioner. Conditioner contains a small amount of surfactants (what shampoo uses to cleanse your hair), so it will clean it without stripping your hair of its natural oils. Garrison suggests using a lightweight conditioner if you have fine hair, like Nexxus Hydra-Light Weightless Moisture Conditioner. If you have thick and coarse hair, you can use a rich formula, like Redken Genius Wash for Coarse Hair.
4. Mask weekly.
Doing a special treatment at least once a week, especially in colder months, will help fill any holes in your hair shaft that soak up outside moisture and contribute to frizz. Leonor Greyl Masque à L’Orchidée contains glycerin, strengthening silk proteins, and smoothing vegetal ceramides to fight frizz.
When you’re styling your hair…
5. Don’t blow-dry soaking wet hair.
Too much hot air focused directly on your strands dehydrates it, making it frizzy. If you have straight-to-slightly-wavy hair, let your hair air-dry 90 percent of the way, Garrison says, and then use a dryer on it for the last 10 percent.
7. Use dry oil.
While your hair is still wet, apply a moisture-locking dry oil, like Dove Hair Therapy Nourishing Oil Care, from your ends to midway up your hair shaft; oil acts as a barrier, keeping liquids from penetrating. Once your hair is 90 percent dry, use a round brush with mixed bristles (the plastic ones pick up the hair and pull it into the boar bristles for added tension, which makes the hair super straight) to seal the cuticle for a smooth finish. You can also flat-iron your hair after it’s dry – nothing will seal the cuticle like intense heat, Garrison advises.
8. Get frizz-free waves with buns.
Although hot tools are ideal for sealing a cuticle, if you want waves but want to limit the amount of heat styling, twist your hair into a bun while it dries (the frizz-fighting happens as your hair cools, when your cuticle locks into place).
9. Use a cream hydrator and a diffuser for thick, coarse, and curly hair.
After you’ve shampooed and conditioned your hair, while it’s still wet, apply a cream-based product (Stephen uses Motions Natural Textures Hydrate My Curls Pudding on her clients) from root to tip. When you apply the product, instead of rubbing it in, warm the product between your palms and fingers, and squeeze it onto your hair. Then, wrap your curls around your fingers to shape them exactly how you want, and let your strands air dry. You can also use a diffuser on low speed, high heat (aiming it downward to keep it from ruffling the cuticle) to dry it.
To maintain your style…
10. Caught in the rain? Try a dry conditioning spray.
No matter how good your blowout is, once rain or crazy humidity hits your hair, frizz is bound to set in. Thankfully, the five-oil blend in the quick-drying Living Proof No Frizz Instant De-Frizzer was created for this very scenario and works to bring your hair back to its original state.
11. Use hand or body lotion to tame a frizzy ponytail.
If your hair is in a ponytail and the sides start to frizz up, smooth them down with hairspray. But if the back of your pony turns into a frizz ball, squeeze some lotion into your palms, rub them together, and gently run your fingers through your hair to make it look polished, Garrison suggests.
12. Use pins and hairspray (not serum) for flyaways.
According to Garrison, serums aren’t ideal or strong enough for smoothing flyaways. So if your updo tends to get frizzy, stick to bobby pins and hairspray to help slick down those bad boys.
14. Apply a leave-in conditioner before you workout.
The sodium in your perspiration can dehydrate your hair so it’s always a good idea to apply a leave-in conditioner to your strands before working out. Try Vernon Francois Leave~In Conditioner. Also, if you have textured hair and normally work out in a silk scarf, swap it out for a cotton handkerchief, since cotton absorbs moisture and you want the fabric to soak up the sweat, not trap it in, Stephen says.
6. Brush your hair upside down to distribute its natural oils.
Regularly brushing your hair is great, yes, but try flipping it over and brushing it upside down with a boar bristle brush, like Spornette’s, to distribute the oils from your scalp/roots onto the rest of your hair. This key step will keep your hair hydrated and block out humidity, Garrison says.
15. Sleep in a silk scarf if your hair.
If you haven’t switched your moisture-sucking cotton pillowcase to silk, Stephen says to sleep with your hair wrapped up in a bun, then tie on a silk scarf to help your hair retain its moisture.