Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Humidity Proof Hair?

Katy asks 'Can you humidity proof your hair?'

I often simplify the structure of hair but it is actually more complex than it seems. It is made up of proteins which will bind small amounts of water in humid conditions (J. Soc. Cosmet Chem, pg 447-470 1972).

I do think that hair responds to humidity in a way that it should. Humidity proofing sounds like asking a teaspoon of sugar not to dissolve in glass of water. Equally the protein in hair takes up water because it is natural for any chemical (including the proteins in hair) to seek to be in the most stable state.

I have previously blogged about mineral oil and coconut oil both having a role in minimizing shrinkage. Oil films can help prevent moisture uptake - Read the article here. Additionally one result does show a depositing conditioner with polyquaternium 70 has antifrizzing properties (J Cosmet Sci, pg 393-404,2007).

I don't really think you should try to humidity proof hair. I think it may be easier to style hair in such a way that humidity does not affect it. Hairstyles that involve a non natural curl (for example twist outs, knot outs, braids outs, rollersets) are begging to be destroyed ( J. Soc. Cosmet Chem, pg 447-470 1972). Hairstyles that are removed from the hair's natural state such as flat ironing and blowouts are equally going to be massacred by humidity.

What styles could work?

1. Fixed styles like braids, twists or cornrows are an obvious choice.
2. Wash and go styles (expect shrinkage) which keep the hair in its natural state
3. Pin up styles and buns which 'hide' the majority of the hair from the water vapour in the air and therefore the style is maintained.
My advice - Take the path of least resistance. Why bother doing all the hard work with styling yet when you go outside, your hair is simply going to revert?
Have you 'humidity proofed' your hair, if so, how?

6 comments:

  1. Great point about "taking the path of least resistance". However, that would require many naturals to wear more "protective" styles, which a lot of women don't seem to like. I realized that when I was 3 and 4-ish, I had the longest, thickest hair. Why? I only wore my hair in braided 'ponytails'. No special products, no over-the-top routines, no unique tools. As adult naturals, we want to feel sexy and beautiful while rocking our natural so for a lot of women big curls or some stretched version of their texture is preferrable. Interestingly, I've noticed that some naturals are as uncomfortable wearing twists, fros, plaits, etc as they used to be when they're new growth would begin to show a few weeks after relaxer. Sometimes I wonder if all the effort that is put into finding a holy grail routine or product combo is the biggest issue to achieving and retaining healthy (and for those who care, long) natural hair when what we all pretty much used to have done as children seemed to work just fine. Not a judgement, just an observation. Nice post.

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  2. Thanks for the comment Leslie, your perspective always makes me think about the more psychological aspects to questions beyond the scientific realms. Thanks!

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  3. The other day I was telling someone about how my hair is always POOFY since I changed my haircare products. And I realized that Mineral Oil and Petroleum are the only two things I stay away from so it was probably one fo the two that kept my hair down and tamed. Now after this post I'm convinced. I might just start using my old products whenever I flat iron my hair. Since I don't do that often I'm not particularly concerned about it affecting the health of my hair.

    Great Post.

    And LOL @ the font in red. You make it seem so doom and gloom.

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  4. Actually how I do my hair now, its meant to embrace the humidity and shrinkage.
    Since I use glycerin within my leave in I use a watery spritz, also containing it, and pretty much saturate my hair. I tend to wear a puff but I now saturate my puff only then take out the band and let it hang. *almost like a wash and go but not* The very ends of my hair are only saturated but the root to middle section isn't really. The water, glycerin *i also do use coconut oil but didn't of its benefit as you stated until now* and humidity seems to keep my hair soft and it doesn't dry out after a long day in the heat. It spirals up nicely IMO and doesn't seem to tangle up on me. I embrace shrinkage alot now, so I guess I don't have that problem with my hair's length "reverting"

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  5. I have accepted a certain amount of frizz in my hair. My hair is not a really tight curl (except in the front). I find the really curly hair in front with a lot of product in it is less prone to frizz because it has a more structured curl than the rest of my hair which is less curly and takes more product to make the curl stand out and not just look like frizz. In fact, I wish I had the same tight curl in the rest of my hair as I do in the front.

    When I blow dry my hair I put a humidity product in and then gel (the only thing that brings structure to my curls) and use a diffuser. I only dry my hair until the curl is set and let it air dry the rest of the way. It looks frizzy until I apply an anti-humidity product to my DRY hair and even then there is still some frizz.

    I'm going to be 37 this month and feel like I should know more about bringing out the best in my curls by now! Am I the only one who has been wearing their hair curly for most of their life and feels like they are still learning how to make it look good?

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  6. lol Flowerchild - I did think it needed a red font lol

    @Queenbuv - Aww - I don't think you are the only one in this position. Many people do struggle with hair for a long time. I think too that sometimes we want our hair to do something it can't or 'look normal' when in fact maybe we need to adjust our own thinking of what is and isn't normal for our hair. Have you tried Teri's method yet using conditioner as the styling aid?

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