Decoding Frizz: 19 Expert Tips to Tame Your Frizzy Hair
Main image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy
If you’re constantly fighting the frizz, rest assured. I stand with you!
Whether you’re in the midst of summer, in the deepest darkest winter or quite frankly anywhere in between, frizz can strike at any time and ruin a perfectly good hair day (the bane of much of my adult life).
But what causes our hair to be so undisciplined? Where does this bad attitude come from? And how can we take control and put it right back in its place?
Keep reading to find out why the dreaded frizz attacks. And discover a whole list of ways – 19 to be exact, no biggie – that you can tackle and/or prevent it.
With expertise from bio-medical scientist and haircare expert Dr Isfahan Chambers-Harris, hairstylists Lisa Abbey, and Kenna Ehman, plus some of my own favourite hacks that help me battle poofy hair, consider this your frizz-fighting manual.
What is frizz?
Scientifically speaking, frizz is the result of moisture loss and a damaged hair cuticle (the outermost layer of hair) changing the shape of your hair shaft.
Essentially your cuticle is your hair’s very own protective shield. It’s made up of cells that overlap each other, a bit like scales on a fish.
When they’re lying flat over each other- like when your hair is well-conditioned and healthy- you get a smooth, shiny finish.
When the hair shaft is damaged- like when your hair is dry or damaged- your cuticle cells lay more open, allowing moisture out and humidity in.
This result is a distorted hair shaft shape, AKA frizz. It can either resemble a ‘halo’ of wiry flyaways across your crown or a general ‘poofy’ effect throughout the whole length of your hair (or both).
What makes hair frizzy?
The main culprit of frizz is dryness and it usually occurs in curly or wavy hair. “The hair lacks moisture and has an uneven or raised cuticle layer,” confirms Dr Chambers-Harris.
Basically anything that dries or damages hair can contribute to frizz. Common culprits include:
- Humidity. This is because humidity is essentially water in the air, and the hydrogen in that water (yup, the ‘H’ in H20) can change the structure of your hair shaft, leading to frizz.
- Friction (for example from rough towel drying or over-brushing)
- Using sulphates (commonly referred to as SLS or SLES on your haircare ingredients list)
- Heat styling
- Over-washing your hair
- Hair porosity. Hair that is highly ‘porous’, for example, means your hair’s cuticle has more gaps and is less able to retain moisture. Some hair textures are naturally more porous. For example, the twists in curls and coils allow the cuticle to lift more easily
- UV rays. UVB radiation in particular has been shown to be responsible for hair protein loss
- Chemical damage (like colouring or perming your hair)
Now let’s get into how to tame that frizz.
19 ways to tackle frizz
1. It starts in the shower
“Use a moisturising shampoo and conditioner formulated to hydrate and nourish your hair,” advises Dr Chambers-Harris. “Look for products that are sulphate-free as sulphates can strip the hair of natural oils.”
Kerastase Discipline Bain Fluidealiste (£27.15/$33.02) is a keratin shampoo which instantly calms my hair down.
2. Use cool water to rinse out your shampoo and conditioner
This seals the cuticle, making the hair less coarse.
3. Use a cotton or microfibre towel
Instead of rubbing wet hair with a towel and potentially causing more frizz, use a cotton t-shirt instead. It will absorb the water and not be so rough against the hair cuticle.
4. Try a moisture-absorbing towel
If you don’t feel like using a t-shirt, dedicated hair towels can be a brilliant substitution for a rough towel. The Aquis Towel (£20.56/$25.00) is made from a uniquely woven fabric that helps to strengthen and dry the hair quickly without friction.
In fact, one study showed that Aquis’ towels can leave hair up to 5 times stronger than traditional drying methods.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Sally Underwood, swears by this hack. “I’ve been using my Aquis towel for at least 6 years now. It dramatically reduces my hair drying time which has resulted in far less damaged hair over time and barely any frizz anymore,” she says.
5. Use as little heat as possible
But if you do heat style regularly, choose a styler with temperature control like MDLondon Strait Hair Straightener (£109/$132.56). I love the 11 different heat settings, letting me choose exactly how much heat I think my hair can take depending on its condition.
6. Use heat protectant
“Use a heat protectant spray to shield your hair from damage,” recommends Dr Chambers-Harris. Try Aussie SOS Instant Heat Saviour Spray (£6.99/$8.50) which smells delicious.
Our Senior Beauty Editor, Laura Kemp, seriously loves this product, she says “I have used Aussie products for years and I really love the smell. This heat spray keeps my hair smooth and shiny and feeling in great condition.”
7. Avoid harsh products
Avoid using products containing alcohol, like hairspray, as they can dry out the hair and cause long-term frizz. Moroccanoil Hairspray Strong Hold (£17.85/$21.71) feels weightless.
Keep a conditioning spray like Living Proof Instant De-Frizzer (£15.00/$18.24) in your handbag instead for on-the-go frizz taming. It smells divine and is one of my forever favourites.
8. Be careful not to overwash
If you have afro hair, be careful not to over-wash it so that the natural oils can come through. And use a wide tooth comb to avoid harsh pulling when it’s wet.
9. Try pre-conditioning
On the subject of coily/afro hair, Abbey recommends “For very dry, damaged or very curly/coily hair, PRE-condition with your hair mask first, then shampoo and follow with regular conditioner to seal the hair shaft, add shine and detangle.
“Because the PH of water opens the hair cuticle and the PH of shampoo closes it, this pre-conditioning step will lock the moisture deep inside the cortex where it’s most needed.”
10. Regular trims
Get your hair trimmed every 8-10 weeks to help it grow back stronger, healthier and less prone to frizz. If severely damaged hair is the cause of your frizz here (think hair colouring job gone wrong), trimming the affected areas will noticeably reduce frizz.
11. Invest in a silk pillowcase
Invest in a silk pillowcase to prevent frizz-inducing friction while you’re sleeping. I use Marks and Spencer Pure Silk Pillowcase (£30.00/$36.48) as a precaution. “Or wrap your hair in a silk or satin scarf before sleeping,” suggests Dr Chambers-Harris.
If you really want to go to town, haircare company Slip even sells a whole line of dedicated silk pillowcases (£89.00/$89.00).
If you need more convincing, here’s trichologist Taylor Rose on all the frizz-fighting benefits of treating your hair to a silk pillowcase.
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12. Consider using a diffuser
If you have curly or wavy hair, “consider using a diffuser attachment when blow-drying as this helps to distribute air evenly and reduces frizz,” says Dr Chambers-Harris.
13. Hydration, hydration, hydration
“Reach for a deep conditioning treatment, leave-in lightweight oil/cream or a shine mist,” says Kenna. I love Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Deep Conditioning Treatment (£20.00/$24.32) for its shine-inducing, frizz-reducing formula.
14. Keratin treatment
“A keratin treatment is also a great option to help smooth unwanted short textured hairs down,” says Kenna.
UK-based salon chain Headmasters offer a Keratin Smoothing Blow Dry (from £176) which helps to tame frizz instantly. Prices in US hair salons average around $150 upwards and the results of a keratin treatment can tame frizz for up to three months.
15. Hair masks
“If your hair feels very dry or brittle, is damaged or you are experiencing breakage and split ends, you’ll definitely want to add a hair mask to your haircare routine,” Abbey advises.
To get more out of your hair mask, heat up a wet hair towel in the microwave for two minutes then wrap it around your hair after you’ve applied your mask. The heat will enable moisture to soak in deeper.
16. Extend your shampoo
Over-washing your hair can keep the cuticle open, which leads to dryness and increased frizz. To extend your washes, use dry shampoo instead.
17. Use a boar bristle brush
Boar bristle brushes help to distribute your hair’s natural oils, helping to prevent moisture loss over time. The natural bristles also help to reduce friction, which will reduce frizz.
18. Use a humidity protector
Protect your hair against humidity by using a protector that will create a barrier between your hair and the moisture in the air.
At LTG HQ, we love Amika’s The Shield Anti-Humidity Spray (from £11.00/$10.00 for the mini) which gives serious frizz protection against humidity throughout the day.
19. Manage frizz with a spoolie or toothbrush
Use a toothbrush or spoolie with hairspray to smooth the ‘halo’ frizz on your crown. It’s also a great way to manage frizz throughout the day – so keep one in your handbag!
Simply spritz some hairspray onto a clean tool and brush over your parting and hairline; wherever you have frizz.
Luckily there are many ways to tackle frizzy hair. In fact, there’s a frizz-fighting method at every step of your hair regime and beyond.
Starting in the shower with what you wash it with, going all the way through the styling process and out the other end when you’re on the go. You name it, there’s a place in your regime to confront it!
Meet the experts
Dr Isfahan Chambers-Harris has a PHD in Bio-Medical Sciences and a passion for healthy hair. She combined her skills and knowledge into the creation of Alodia, an innovative hair care line that is poised to take hair care to the next level.
Kenna Ehman is a master stylist and Co-Owner of the Kenna Kunijo Salon. Now with over 13 years of experience, Ehman, is a Cutting Specialist who is passionate about natural curly hair and continues to expand her impressive resume through her work on several film sets throughout London and the United States.
Lisa Abbey is the founder and CEO of Strength x Beauty, providing healthy, plant-based hair and body products made by women, for women. Created by a hairstylist with a passion for high quality, the line offers cruelty-free beauty without harmful ingredients.