Sometimes knowing if you’re going to have a good (or bad) hair day seems as unpredictable as Mother Nature (Hurricane Irene, we’re talking to you).
But just like grabbing a sweater or ditching tights, when deciding on a stick-straight blowout or spending an extra five on your curls so they don’t go ballistic the moment you step outside, consider the elements. Follow these simple solutions for the most common weather-related hair dilemmas and day-shmay, you’ll have a gorgeous hair year.
Hair Forecast: 100 percent chance of frizz
“Hair is porous, so it absorbs moisture from the air,” explains Jeni Thomas, Ph.D., a Pantene principal scientist in Cincinnati, Ohio. “As water moves into the hair fibers, it rearranges their hydrogen bonds and turns those that are smooth and controlled more chaotic and roughed up — and what you see in the mirror is frizz.”
When you’ve got a the-sky-is-falling situation and need to pull hair back into a pony or a low chignon out-of-the-blue, reach for a bungee elastic (it’s like the Hunter boots of hair — it protects your style from a wash out, yet still looks chic). “Bungee elastics are better to use than ordinary wrap-around bands because they don’t leave a crease and you can put your hair up and take it down as many times as you need to,” says Ted Gibson, owner of Ted Gibson Salon in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Bungee elastics are straight pieces of cord that have little hooks on each end. Gather your hair in a ponytail with one hand, hook one end of the bungee into the base, wrap the elastic around the ponytail a few times and then secure the hook on the loose end back into the base.
Sure you can flat iron like a mad woman but lets be real, as soon as you see those wiry strands popping up minutes later, you’ll want to rip your hair out. Let the extra moisture work for your natural waves or curls. “When moisture gets into hair it gives it more bounce and shape,” says Gibson, who suggests applying a creamy styling product through damp hair to create a moisture-shield and stopping frizz. Put a small amount in your palms, then rake fingers through hair starting on the bottom layer and working up; wrap sections around two fingers as you blow dry, says Gibson, who uses this ringlet trick on Twilight star Ashley Greene. “Your fingers act like a mold, creating a smooth shape” Aim the nozzle of the blow dryer directly at and down on strands, let them cool, then release that section and pick up the next.
If you’ve got styling time to spare, coat hair with a lightweight oil such as Davines Essential Haircare Oi/Oil, then twist and pin strands and let hair air dry, says Nackie Karcher, owner of The Parlour Brooklyn salon in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. “Since oil molecules are denser than water, they help push water out of sopping hair and allow it to dry faster, plus keep moisture from the air out of hair all day long.”
Dry as Desert Air (from Indoor Heat)
Hair Forecast: No volume in sight and chance of static
“Cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warmer air, so cold days will often have lower humidity,” explains Thomas. “This leads to lower water levels inside hair fibers, causing static electricity to build up in hair, making it difficult to manage, and lack movement and bounce.” Naturally straight strands are more susceptible to Sahara-like conditions because the cuticle lays flat, allowing moisture to easily evaporate; curly hair holds on to moisture in all its twists and turns (also why it’s more prone to frizz.)
Hairspray is your BFF. Tilt your head upside down, spray hairspray from the base of your neck all over hair (Try L’Oreal Professional Infinium 2 hairspray), then flip your head upright, says Gibson, who recommends trying this instant volume booster before you step out of an elevator or leaving the ladies room to meet your date at the bar. As hair settles down, use your fingers to massage your scalp and secure roots in an upright position.
Utilize the power of your shower. A hydrating shampoo and conditioner helps hold moisture in the hair right away, says Karcher. Plus, positively-charged moisturizers counteract negatively-charged static, explains Thomas. (Try Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Moisture Balance Shampoo and Conditioner, which contains a positively-charged cassia polymer). And schedule a trim as soon as the temperature drops.
“Older hair near the ends have been exposed to so much already—heat styling, the sun, brushing — so it’s naturally dryer than hair near the roots and won’t move, sway and have as much life,” explains Karcher. To get long lasting lift before you step outside, add a golf-ball size amount of mousse to the tip of small tooth comb and work the teeth right into the roots at the crown of your head, says Kristan Serafino, a hair stylist in New York City and author of serafinosays.com. Blast the area with the tapered nozzle of the blow dryer (you don’t want to blow hair all over) on medium heat to set volume all day.
Wizard of Oz-like Wind
Hair Forecast: Tangles and knots, and dullness, oh my!
When hair is blowing all over the place, strands can get wrapped around each other, which leads to breakage and splits from attempting to detangle them with your fingers or brush, and it roughs up the cuticle and makes strands appear dull.
Just like you would lock down any potential flying objects when a natural disaster strikes, if you want to maintain a perfectly coiffed style when entering a wind tunnel, secure your hair. Gibson suggests this youthful yet sophisticated version he created at the fall Rachel Roy show: Create a center part from the top of your head down to the nape of your neck. Take sections from behind both ears and wrap with an elastic (aka pigtails), then braid each all the way down to the ends and wrap with elastics; pin the ends on the top of your head with a bobby pin. Lace a quarter-inch ribbon between sections of hair before braiding for an added girly twist.
Under these conditions, it’s safe to say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Slightly tangled hair (we’re talking bohemian, not rat’s nest) creates its own version of being (naturally) teased without the ‘80s backcombing. “You might actually like the look of the can’t-fight-it enhanced texture,” says Serafino. “When hair is windblown it can create a sexy, disheveled style, like it’s lightly tousled all over — which could be very difficult to do on your own, especially if you hair never holds a wave or curl.” So basically, go with it, and follow up with a deep conditioning mask to help repair any win damage.
Scorching UV Rays
Hair Forecast: Singed strands and occasional oxidization
“UV light can actually bleach the pigments in hair, which can either appear as a lightening effect, or a shift to a slightly different color,” explains Thomas. This is particularly an issue for those with an out-of-the-box shade, but it can affect natural color, too. Anyone who as cringed at the sight of orange-tinged tips knows that this effect can go very right (bright sun-kissed highlights) or oh-so-wrong.
Never let hair sit in one spot. Alternate your part, pull hair half up-half down, or soak up the sun with your hair flipped over, suggests Gibson. “This allows the sun to hit varied areas of hair, minimizing damage and lessening the chance of ruining your color,” he says.
Before basking in the sun, suds up with a color-protecting shampoo and conditioner, suggests Gibson. “Healthy hair starts with the shampoo—if color-locking ingredients are the first thing to go inside strands, you’ll automatically shield hair from the inside out.” Of course that doesn’t mean you should skip another layer of protection like a leave-in conditioning spray to keep color vibrant and strands soft. “That crispy, dried out feeling is hair’s version of a sunburn,” says Serafino. “The top layers literally get fried.” And since SPF (sun protection factor) is only for accurate in skincare, look for natural UV-protectors in hair products such as antioxidantsvitamins E and C, both of which are free-radical fighters that help minimize the scope of the damage the sun's rays can create on hair.
You can even use the sun to your advantage. Serafino suggests letting rays mimic what colorists are doing in the salon — ombre highlights. “Since the trend right now is to have darker roots and lighter ends, after spraying in a leave in treatment with UV protecting ingredients, leave hair down so the ends are exposed,” she says. Not even coming close to the power of peroxide, the sun’s UV rays will subtly lighten color and give a natural (and way easier to maintain) version of ombre. The UV-protective spray keeps rays from scorching too much.