desert climate
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Humidity is the devil. It makes curly girls think twice when we check the weather prior to leaving our homes. While most curly girls dread the thought of a humid summer day, there are actually some of us of who relish the moisture because our curls respond well to it. Dry or arid climates also pose problems to moisture-seeking curls, waves, and coils, and when you move from a humid climate to a dry one, your hair will have some major adjustments to make. Dreamwhopper  is one such curly girl and inquired about what to do in Curly Q&A .

Question

Lost some curl when I moved from the Midwest to Arizona. Any suggestions to get my curl back?

I do color my hair, but I have for years. When I lived in Kansas I had the best curls, I'm sure the humidity helped, but now since I live in Phoenix my curls are kinda limp! I have tried five or six different curl products. Since I have a nail license I can buy from the distributors. Would love to hear any suggestions....thank you in advance!

Answer

Climate is a factor in how your curls behave. Many are unaware until they move or visit a place different from their residence but where you live plays a huge part in how your hair looks, feels, and is willing to cooperate. Humidity and dew points are not the only environmental factors that affect our hair. Pollutants, sun, and wind all affect our hair and moving to another climate means learning or protecting your hair from those elements. Since humidity is a major concern let’s find out exactly what it is.

What is humidity?

The simplified definition would be the amount of water vapor in the air but this is not entirely true. According to Jeffrey Hovis, a science, and operations officer with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service in Charleston, WV: “The air that we breathe is made up of numerous gases, including water vapor. The term humidity generally refers to the amount of this water vapor in the atmosphere.” Relative humidity, a term often used by weather persons, is the measurement of the actual amount of moisture in the air in comparison to the total amount the hair can actually hold.

As I stated before, humidity it not the only environmental factor one has to deal with. The amount of water vapor in the hair does affect our curls. The water in the atmosphere attaches to the hair strands, absorbs, and causes your strands to swell, causing frizzy and mushy hair. However, living in a dry climate such as Phoenix and you have a whole host of problems the drier climate inflicts on your curls. Hey, I know the struggle as I have been living in Denver for over ten years. The dry air not only affects your hair but your skin takes a beating as well. Here are some tips for living in a drier climate for curly, wavy, and coily girls.

Read more: Humidity, Humectants and the Dew Point

Steer clear of drying shampoos

Shampoos with harsh sulfates are doing your dry curls no favors! Try gentle sulfate-free shampoos, cleansing conditioners, clay washes, or diluting your shampoo, to help keep those strands moisturized and less dry.

Shampoo less

No one really needs to shampoo daily anyway and that goes double for curly girls. When living in a drier climate excessive shampooing may be stripping your strands of those precious natural oils you desperately need. Harsh shampoos will dry out those strands so maybe alternate with a co-wash. Messy buns or ponytail styles are great for dirty hair days.

Pre-poo

A pre-poo is a great way to add moisture to your hair prior and de-stress the effects of the shampooing. Even if you choose to not do it every wash, make sure to do it prior to washing with a sulfate shampoo to help stave off the dryness.

Try some oil-based products

Make sure your conditioners have natural oils in them or just add your favorite one to your conditioning process. I always add jojoba oil or SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Reconstructive Finishing Elixir to my deep conditioner and my leave-in conditioner to help seal in moisture.

Condition, condition, and then condition some more

Never skip conditioning your hair and make sure to deep condition after every wash. Conditioners work with shampoos and a regular conditioner will condition the cuticle, help it to lie flat, and be smooth. A deep conditioner will penetrate the hair shaft and nourish the cuticle with the oils, amino acids, and nutrients.

Read more: Daily Conditioner vs. Deep Conditioner

Sun protection

Protecting your hair from the intense UV rays, which will degrade your hair color and cause dry, brittle strands. That can also be giving your hair that limp, dry, and brittle feeling.

Read more: Protect Your Hair from the Sun

Invest in a humidifier

Great for skin and hair when living in a drier climate, humidifiers provide external moisture when it is in short supply in the air. Just like a steamer (also a great choice), they provide excellent moisture to the air, which is great for winter months when most of us are cranking our heaters up. That may not be helpful for Phoenix weather but the humidifier will combat the dryness that your skin and hair may be feeling.