Kate's Corner: Hair and humidity

Published: Apr. 26, 2017 at 4:29 PM EDT
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Welcome back to Kate's Corner. This one is for the ladies or any fellas with luscious locks because we are talking about how a humid afternoon can spell for a bad hair day.

Now our hair is very sensitive to humidity. So much so that devices called hygrometers use hair to measure to amount of moisture in the air.

So to explain why straight hair goes wavy or curly hair goes even curlier when it's humid out, we have to go down to the molecular level.

Our hair is made up of many bundles of long keratin proteins held together by chemical bonds. Sulfur bonds are permanent and give our hair its strength. This type is not affected by humidity.

Hydrogen bonds however are. These are weaker and temporary. They give our hair its shape. When wet hair dries, hydrogen atoms reform their bonds with neighboring hydrogen atoms on neighboring strands of keratin proteins. Our hair is very porous so it absorbs more moisture when its humid. The more water molecules around mean there will be significantly more hydrogen bonds between keratin strands. With all these bonds, the hair doubles back on itself at a molecular level. It absorbs water, forms bonds, and swells until it disrupts the cuticle. When this happens to your entire head of hair, you're left with a frizzy mane.

What to avoid the frizz? Well here are some easy tips.

Condition. Moisturized hair won't absorb as much moisture and thus won't make as many hydrogen bonds.

Avoid heat. Heat damage creates holes in your hair. The more holes lead to more porous hair that then can absorb more water.

Don't brush as much. The friction created from brushes dries your out even further.

Don't use excessive amounts of shampoos and products. Those dry out your hair even more.