The Science behind Humidity & Your Hair

The Science behind Humidity & Your Hair

We love the summer sun, but not the humidity that often tags along with it. In basic terms, humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. On a hot summer day, the mugginess can feel smothering and sticky and the moisture laden air can wreak havoc on our hair. Let’s look at why it is a no-go for our hair and what we can do to block it!

The Scoop

Hair molecule diagram- Courtesy of Gray's Anatomy

Hair molecule diagram- Courtesy of Gray’s Anatomy

Hair is extremely sensitive to humidity since it readily retains moisture (hydroscopic). When exposed to it, hair can absorb as much 55% of the air’s moisture. The result is strands that can swell up to 16% of its natural diameter! Since the protein structures of hair are not uniform, each hair can have a different response to humidity. If your hair is prone to curling, water molecules will steadily be absorbed, causing hair to retract from straight to curly. These varied responses to the moisture in the air create the dreaded frizz and some unexpected styling issues.

What Does it all Mean?!

Simply put, humid days are guaranteed bad hair days if you aren’t prepared. Here are a few pointers to help you make the most of them:

• Beat the heat. Avoid heat styling if you can. The moisture in the air will be the end of all your hard work. If you can’t go without your flat iron, prep hair with products that will reduce heat damage. And be sure your hair is fully cooled when stepping outside.
• If your hair is curly, reduce manipulation as it creates frizz. Experiment with low maintenance styles like up-dos and braided styles. Finish off your look with a lightweight hairspray – to block out humidity AND lock in your style.
• For fine hair types, lightweight products are your hair’s best friend. Opt for a volumizing shampoo and styling products that will give your hair a lift.
• Damaged strands have the worst time in humid conditions. Because of their extreme porosity, damaged hair can absorb up to 55% water from the air! Regular deep conditioning treatments help to smooth the hair’s surface which improve elasticity and reduces breakage. Consistency is key to achieving beautiful, healthy looking hair.

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