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Enough's Enough (How to Humidity-proof your curls this Summer)

Posted by Adria Marshall on

OK, Summer. This past Fall, Winter and Spring, we've deep conditioned weekly, protein-treated monthly, trimmed quarterly, protected our hair nightly (with a scarf, bonnet AND satin pillowcase). We've been true to the Curly Girl game and our curls have recently been elected Captain of #TeamFlourish. But, here you come, Summer, determined to make a mockery of our hard work. Well, not this year. Enough's enough.

June's blog post (even released a day early to show how serious we are) will arm you with the tools necessary to not just survive, but THRIVE, during the Summer months. And, who knows? You might just pick up some tips worthy of carrying along through the other 3 seasons too!

 

#Science

Most of us already know that our hair is made up of keratin - this is why regular protein treatments are so important, to repair the protein in our hair that is lost by chemical, physical and environmental factors. After a protein treatment, you might notice how your curls look more defined and springy - this is because the shape and structure of your hair is determined by how keratin binds together. Keratin molecules contain high amounts of the amino acid cysteine, which in turn contains sulfur atoms. When two keratin chains are nearby, the sulfur atoms from the neighboring molecules can react to form a strong disulfide bond. These bonds lock keratin molecules together and maintain their composition whether your hair is wet or dry. You following me? OK, good - keep reading...

So, disulfide bonds are great for keeping hair frizz free. BUT, there is another, more prevalent, bond formed in our hair called hydrogen. You see, when humidity is high, water molecules are in large numbers in the air. Hydrogen bonds occur when molecules on neighboring keratin strands each form a weak attraction with the same water molecule, thereby indirectly bonding the two keratin proteins together. As more hydrogen bonds form, hair strands actually start folding back on themselves, resulting in frizzy hair.

 

The Solution

The solution to the frizz problem is actually pretty simple when you think about it. First we need to Reduce the number of Hydrogen bonds. Then, we need to Increase the number of Disulfide bonds.

 

Reducing Hydrogen Bonds

If you read the post on Humectants from a few months ago, you'll recall it mentioned that when the dew points are high, our hair tends to draw in moisture from the air. To reduce hydrogen bonds and combat this phenomenon, it's important to keep your hair moisturized by deep conditioning. Get it? In a nutshell, If our hair is already well moisturized, less moisture will be arbitrarily drawn from the air into your hair.

Once you've deep conditioned (complete with a heat cap or steamer, if possible), seal your hair with an oil to create a barrier between your hair and the water in the air. You might think that oil will weigh your hair down...and, truthfully, it might a little. But, since oil and water don't mix, you'll be reducing the amount of humidity that launches attack on your style throughout the day. Staying in control of the of moisture in your hair is critical to combating frizz.

Alright, so now that our hydrogen bonds have been reduced as much as possible, let's hit frizz with an upper cut!

Increasing Disulfide Bonds

Simply put, when dew points are high, it's time to increase the frequency of our protein treatments. When you stop and think about it, this makes common sense. (So much so that I'm embarrassed that I'm just now figuring it out!) For years, I've known that, in the Winter months, I need to increase the frequency of my deep conditioning treatments due to the dry winter air. So, it just follows that, due to the need to maintain the protein-moisture balance, that in the summer, it's important to increase the amount of protein in your hair. This means that, if you usually protein treat once a month, increase it to every-other week and possibly double up on the duration of the treatment as well.

In a Nutshell

  1. Deep condition until your hair's moisture has reached saturation.
  2. Seal with an oil.
  3. Double up on your protein treatments. 

    I, honestly, think that the code has been cracked on humidity, folks. By applying these 3 easy steps, we should have a much more pleasant Summer where our tresses are concerned!

     

    Until July,

    Adria

    credit: ouidad.com, wave3.com, mentalfloss.com, byrdie.com, urbanbella.net, smithsonianmag.com

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