How To Humidity-Proof Your Haircare Routine

Whether your hair is straight and fine or coarse and coily, when it comes to hair, there are few foes more notorious than humidity


Fed up with humidity? Read on for our expert-approved tips on how to keep moisture at bay this spring. Photo / Getty Images

Is there anything more infuriating than spending an hour preening your tresses to perfection, only to set foot outside and have the elements undo your hard work in a matter of seconds? We think not.

Veronica Alanis, an engineering lead at Dyson, sums it up perfectly when she says: “Humid air is the enemy of set hair and sleek locks.”

Lauren Gunn, hair stylist and director of Auckland salon Colleen and self-confessed hair nerd explains there’s a historical context to the relationship between humidity and hair.

“Our hair loves moisture, so much that it has been used for at least three centuries to measure humidity. First by Leonardo DaVinci and then by Swiss savant Horace-Bénédict de Saussure who invented the Hair Hygrometer, an instrument that uses human hair to test air humidity (it’s known to be remarkably reliable),” Lauren says.

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By definition, humidity is moisture in the air which then settles on hair and is absorbed into the hair shaft, weakening its hydrogen bonds and causing it to expand, bloat or frizz.

“Depending on the environmental humidity, hair will absorb water from the air to reach the correct level. As water is reabsorbed, the bonds in hair will be disrupted, causing the style to drop out,” Veronica explains.

Which hair type is most affected by humidity?

Moisture’s love affair is with all hair, although Rita Marcon, Kao Salon Australia and New Zealand associate director channel strategy for marketing and education, says that certain hair types and conditions can be more susceptible to humidity.

“Damaged hair reacts dramatically to humidity because the hair is highly porous, which allows moisture to be absorbed more easily,” she says.

Lauren agrees, adding: “Cuticle cells which sit along the outside of our hair shaft are fairly tough and have a protective coating of lipids that repel water. If that coating has been stripped by chemical services, heat styling or harsh shampoos, then your hair will be more prone to frizz up on a humid or rainy day.”

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Where hair types are concerned, Veronica says those with coarse or curly hair will react most to humidity due to the hair cuticle being more open compared to straighter, finer hair types.

“For thick, curly hair types that are prone to frizz, the moisture and heat in the air will cause it to expand and puff up,” Veronica explains.

“If your hair is naturally fine and your styling goal is to add body and volume, humidity can undo all the hard styling work you’ve done and your hair will fall back to its natural, straight state.”

Lauren summarises this process perfectly by explaining how the weight of water vapor drawn into each strand of fine hair on a humid day can cause it to flatten and feel lank.

Can hot tools help?

If it’s a quick fix you’re after, then hot styling tools can help to smooth unruly strands. But daily use of hot tools without the proper heat protection applied first can only add to the problem, wreaking havoc on hair health and causing strands to become weaker, less elastic and more prone to breakage, Veronica says.

“When hair strands become damaged, the cuticle becomes rough and increases strand friction, resulting in more static. This means you end up with shorter hairs that stand in the way of achieving a smooth style: the infamous flyaways.”

Veronica has been instrumental in the development of Dyson’s newest offering — the Supersonic Flyaway Attachment which uses the brand’s patented Coanda effect to smooth flyaways without using extreme heat.

Dyson Supersonic Flyaway Attachment, individually priced at $109, or within the box of new machines purchased from October 4 for $649. Photo / Supplied

Launching in Aotearoa this week, the attachment is designed to emulate professional stylists’ technique to smooth flyaways. “We noticed that stylists use a round brush and blow dryer to smooth stray hairs, whereas self-stylers were found to turn to high heat solutions after styling, such as straighteners with fixed plates,” Veronica says.

It works by automatically attracting and lifting longer hairs to the front, while a second jet pushes flyaways through the hair tress and out of sight.

The best products to humidity-proof your hair

If your hair has a tendency to rebel when humidity strikes, it may be time to get your hands on some weatherproof products.

Lauren recommends adding a leave-in serum, keratin treatment, anti-humectant cream, heat protectant or anti-humidity spray to your haircare routine to tame bloated hair.

“Using a leave-in serum is a great way to boost your hair’s resistance to humidity as serums mimic the natural lipid layer of the hair shaft,” she says.

Kevin Murphy Young.Again Leave-In Treatment, $72. Photo / Supplied

Try Kevin Murphy Young.Again Leave-In Treatment, $72, a conditioning oil which slows the hairs ageing process to restores softness and shine while combatting environmental aggressors; or Sisley Hair Rituel by Sisley-Paris La Crème 230, $135, an anti-frizz, leave-in cream which strengthens the protein structure of strands while defending against humidity.

Sisley Hair Rituel by Sisley-Paris La Crème 230, $135. Photo / Supplied

A keratin treatment will keep keratin and hydrogen bonds in your hair connected and strong, helping to halt humidity from swelling your hair and messing with its texture, Lauren explains.

Kerastase Discipline Maskeratine, $67. Photo / Supplied

Try Kerastase Discipline Maskeratine, $67, contains a pro-keratin formula to offer long-lasting protection against frizz and humidity for thick, sensitised and unruly hair types; or Olaplex No.6 Bond Smoother, $55, a do-it-all styling crème which strengthens, hydrates and moisturises hair.

Olaplex No.6 Bond Smoother, $55. Photo / Supplied

If your budget is limited, Lauren says heat protectants can easily sub in for humidity blockers. “They work by forming a thin film on your cuticle that slows down heat conduction. This thin film can act like a raincoat for your hair on humid days,” she says.

Evo Icon Welder Heat Protection Spray, $40. Photo / Supplied

She loves Evo Icon Welder Heat Protection Spray, $40, for its ability to defend against UV rays and heat from styling tools; or consider Fudge Professional Blow Dry Aqua Primer, $26, which contains the brand’s Weather-Shield technology to create a virtual umbrella for hair.

Fudge Professional Blow Dry Aqua Primer, $26. Photo / Supplied

Otherwise, consider an anti-humidity spray to shield hair from humidity and frizz while adding texture and hold. Oribe Imperméable Anti Humidity Spray, $74, uses Oribe’s Signature Complex to combat oxidative stress while protecting against the drying, damaging and colour-depleting effects of the elements. KMS Hairstay Anti Humidity Seal, $35, is a lightweight shine spray which uses flexible polymers to repel humidity.

Oribe Imperméable Anti Humidity Spray, $74. Photo / Supplied

STOCKISTS: Dyson Supersonic Flyaway attachment is fully compatible with existing models of the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer, and will be available both individually priced at $109, or within the box of new machines purchased from October 4 for $649, from Dyson.co.nz; Evo from selected salons and online retailers, or see Shop.colleen.nz; Fudge Professional, Goldwell, Kerastase and KMS from selected salons and online retailers, or see Themarket.com; Kevin Murphy from selected salons and online retailers, or see Shop.colleen.nz; Oribe from selected department stores, salons and online retailers, or see Shop.colleen.nz; Sisley from Smith & Caughey’s or online at Smithandcaugheys.co.nz.

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