Frizzy, curly, wavy or just plain out of whack! If you’ve ever stepped outside to find your hair doing its best imitation of Albert Einstein’s locks, then you have the humidity to blame. So why does our hair seem to be such a great litmus test for high humidity? The answer is all in science.
The Building Blocks That Make Hair
First, we need to look at what your hair is made of: water, structural molecules called lipids, and protein called keratin. That chemical composition makes hair vulnerable to moisture in the air—and particularly the hydrogen in water molecules (H2O). In fact, hair is so sensitive to humidity that it’s used in some devices—called hygrometers—to actually measure humidity.
The Chemical Reaction
To understand why it gets frizzy, you need to look at the reaction hair has with water. The hydrogen in humid air reacts with the keratin proteins and the water already found in your hair. The hydrogen will form new bonds between the keratin proteins, causing hair to fold back on itself and appear to make straight hair change length when it gets curlier, wavier or frizzier.
The outcome of having all that extra moisture/ hydrogen added to your hair can make the hair swell and break the outer layer of the strand (called the cuticle), which results in frizz.
And according to Smithsonian.com, hydrogen bonds in hair are “much weaker and temporary, with hydrogen bonds breaking and new ones forming each time your hair gets wet and dries again.” That’s the reason that once your hair dries it tends to stay in the same shape
Why Some People Experience ‘The Frizz’ And Others Don’t
Of course, everyone’s hair reacts differently to humidity. How your hair reacts depends on your genetics, but also the condition of your hair. If you have dry, porous hair from using too many harmful chemicals or too much heat from styling tools, your hair will soak up excess water in the air—creating frizz. Those with well-moisturized hair may not see the effects of humidity as much, but they may still get waves or curls.
So next time you find yourself wanting to ‘get smooth, silky, straight hair,’ and ‘tame that frizz,’ you can blame humidity for making those buzz words big money in the hair care industry.
And don’t forget, if you’re inside your house this summer and your hair starts to look like you stuck your finger in a light socket before you even step outside, then get your home’s humidity in check. Turn on your AC and make sure to talk to the folks at StayComfyMinnesota.com to make sure you are dehumidifying your space to the max.