How to Choose the Right Products Depending on the Weather
Image Source: @curlygallal

Here you are on a lovely warm morning. You decide to check the temperature forecast in your weather app and wear something appropriate for this weather, but change nothing about your curly hair products. You leave the house to go to work wearing a fresh crown of washed curls, which look stunning, only to look in the mirror at the end of the day and find that your curls are frizzy, undefined, and all over the place. “What could have gone wrong?” you ask yourself.

Lorraine Massey says that “curls are natural weather barometers,” and she is so right! Curls change with the weather, and in order to keep them well defined, we need to find ways to retain good moisture and hydration. As dew points change with the shifting of seasons, your curly hair routine will also need some tweak, just like your clothing choices do. What worked for your hair in winter won’t necessarily work in summer.

With the permission of Wendy (scientist) of The Science-y Hair Blog, I am going to share with you some of the things that I have learned from her that have worked for me across different seasons.

Dew Points

Dew points are the accurate measurements of the moisture present in the air. They tell you how moist or dry the air is. If you are going to rely on any measurement for your choice of hair products, you will need to look out for dew points in your weather app, because curls are naturally attracted to moisture.

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Image Source: @freebellious

When dew points are:

  • Below 50°F (10°C) – the air is dry.
  • Between 50-59°F (10-15°C) – this is considered a “comfortable range”.
  • Above 60°F (15°C) – the air is humid.

If the air is dry (below dew points of 50°F/10°C):

How to Choose the Right Products Depending on the Weather

Avoid breakage and knots by adding flexibility to your hair.

You can do this with deep conditioning, leaving some conditioner in your hair when you wash. “Conditioner is for the hair what water is for the body,” Lorraine Massey says,” and by using oils, fatty alcohols, and film-forming humectants.

  • If your hair tolerates oils, use a small amount of natural ones (coconut, avocado, pumpkin seed, etc.“)
  • Some examples of fatty alcohols in ingredient lists are:
    • Lauryl alcohol
    • Cetyl alcohol
    • Myristyl alcohol
    • Stearyl alcohol
    • Cetearyl alcohol
    • Behenyl alcohol

If you’re going to use a humectant in extremely dry weather (dew points below 33°F/1°C), opt for a film-forming one, because simple humectants (glycerine, propylene glycol or sorbitol) may create friction, make the hair feel dry and look dull in such circumstances. If you can’t avoid simple humectants altogether, opt for products that have simple humectants close to the end of the ingredient list. Film-forming humectants are great during dry seasons because they form flexible films that retain water in your hair.

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  • Here are some examples of useful film-forming humectants which you can find in ingredient lists:
    • Flaxseed
    • Okra
    • Aloe Vera
    • Hydroxyethylcellulose
    • Pectin
    • Xanthan Gum
    • Guar Gum
    • Marshmallow Root
    • Slippery Elm
    • Carrageenan (also known as Irish moss or seaweed extract, sea emollient, sea algae, sea vegetable)
    • Nettle leaf tea
    • Nettle extract
    • Panthenol
    • Hydroxypropyltrimonium honey

Some examples of styling products which contain film-forming humectants are:

When the air is within comfortable range (dew points between 50-59°F/10-15°C):

Use a balance of ingredients.

You can still use film-forming humectants, fatty alcohols, and even some simple humectants! Continue to keep your curls hydrated with balanced amounts of conditioner and styling products. This is the most comfortable range for curls.

Dealing with humid air (dew points above 60°F/15°C):

How to Choose the Right Products Depending on the Weather
Image Source: @laurenpiluso

When the air isn’t humid exaggeratedly, your curly hair may be more defined and bouncy because it’s hydrated by the water in the air. However, as humidity levels rise, you may notice a loss in curl pattern, a lot of frizz, or a lack of volume. This is because your hair may absorb too much water, resulting in cuticle disruption.

To counteract high humidity levels, you will need to leave less conditioner in your hair (at this point, it will be too heavy), focus on lightweight moisture, and use humidity-resistant ingredients in your gel or mousse to provide a stronghold.

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Beating humidity when you have curly hair can be such a challenge! This is the line up i use that makes my hair last all week through sweaty workouts and humid weather #curlyhair #curlyhairroutine #humidityproofhair #humidityhairtips #naturalhair #naturalhaircare

♬ original sound – Nekera
Image Source: @heynekera
  • These are humidity-resistant ingredients to look for in your mousse/gel:
    • Polyquaternium-69
    • Polyamide-1
    • Polyquaternium-72
    • Polyquaternium-11
    • Polyquaternium-10
    • Polyquaternium-4
    • PVA/VP Copolymer
    • VP/DMAPA Acrylates Copolymer
    • Polyacrylate acid
    • Polyacrylate-2 Crosspolymer

These are some examples of light-weight styling products that are suitable for humid weather:

Here are some mousse/gel options that contain the humidity-resistant ingredients mentioned above:

The Meaning Behind Ingredients

To finish off, I would like to share my five little secrets for understanding the meanings behind ingredient names and gauging whether a certain product might be suitable for your hair before hitting the “purchase” button.

Before purchasing a product, I consider that my hair is low to normal porosity and coarse in width. Then, I look up the function of each ingredient in comparison to what my hair needs at the time and write down my findings in a notebook. This healthy habit has saved me a lot of money over the past year because I am no longer spending money on products unsuitable for my hair and the season I am in.

These have been my five secrets:

  1. Have a hair analysis with Wendy (scientist). I needed to have a study done with her because she told me the exact width and porosity levels of my curls. With your analysis results, she will also send you helpful files with suitable ingredients for your hair and another educational file that explains what ingredients mean.
  2. Research ingredients at Wendy’s Hair Science-y Blog. Her blog’s search button function is great for this and her page is filled with reliable information, for free.
  3. Research ingredients at the Natural Haven Bloom page. This is another amazing reliable resource for ingredients and hair science in general.
  4. Lookup ingredient names at EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This page is amazing and extremely easy to use. Besides listing the ingredients’ functions, they also give you a hazard score.
  5. Use Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary. This page is simple to use and provides extensive information about the functions of certain ingredients.

A change in seasons doesn’t have to be a struggle for your curly hair routine. In the same way that we change our clothing choices for each season of the year, we also need to tweak our curly hair product choice, based on ingredients and not label claims. It is very possible to read a list of ingredients in a product and know with certainty if you’ll need it. If I can do this, you can too!

This article has been updated.

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