In the summer heat, there’s nothing easier than stepping out of the shower, throwing on loose, lightweight clothing, and letting your hair do its thing. Except, of course, if the humidity causes your mane to puff up—and not in the voluminous way you intended—in the form of frizz.
Frizz is the result of damage to the cuticle, or the outermost layer of each strand of hair. When cuticles become raised, it allows “moisture to pass through and swell the strands,” according to MoKnowsHair, a blog run by a licensed cosmetologist, Sally Beauty stylist, and vocal proponent of keeping hair healthy, no matter your style. The cuticle can get damaged and dried out in any number of ways: excessive washing or use of dehydrating products, frequent heat styling, chemical treatments, or friction from rough towel-drying or even from sleeping.
But fear not: just as there’s a reason frizz happens, there’s also a solution—or several. We’ve rounded up eight products that can prevent and/or tame frizz even in the highest humidity.
1. A sulfate-free shampoo to get hair clean without drying it out
You know that satisfying foam that lathers up as you massage shampoo into your scalp? You’re going to have to learn to find that less satisfying. Sulfates, synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum, are usually the cause behind the suds—and they strip moisture from the hair and skin. They’ll leave your hair feeling ‘clean,’ but they’ll also dry it out, which leads to cuticle damage and, ultimately, frizz. Luckily, your hair can get clean without them, and plenty of brands now sell shampoo made without sulfates, such as Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo. Writes one Sephora reviewer: “Absolutely love this shampoo!! It lathers so well with only a dime size drop!...It’s perfect for my thick frizzy hair. It helps it lay down so smoothly.”
2. A shower cap so you don’t wash your hair every time you bathe
A shower cap alone won’t prevent frizz, but not exposing your hair to shampoo’s detergents every day will. Since oils build up and moisturize the scalp and hair, not washing it every day can keep the cuticle smoother, a huge benefit for frizz prevention. In between washes, throw it in a shower cap, like the Betty Dain Fashionista Collection Mold Resistant Lined Shower Cap, which has 4.3 stars from over 2,400 reviewers on Amazon. One fan writes: “I typically like to go two- to two-and-a-half days between hair washes, and these [caps] keep my hair dry, and keep the humidity from my showers out, allowing me to have a good hair day the next day versus having gotten my hair wet and it poofing up due to the humidity in the bathroom.”
3. A conditioning mask to keep hair’s moisture where it belongs
Ironically, the moisture in the air from humidity is a huge cause of frizz. According to Matrix, a professional hair care line, dry hair will get the moisture it craves from the humidity—puffing up as it does—unless you properly moisturize it with a conditioner. To really hydrate dry strands, apply a deep-conditioning mask, like the Briogeo Don’t Despair! Repair Deep Conditioning Mask. For best results, let it soak in for five to 10 minutes after shampooing the hair, then rinse, and use it at a minimum of once every two weeks or up to twice a week for very dry locks. One Sephora reviewer thinks the mask is heaven-sent: “My hair felt like silk...no, like butter! It didn't even feel like my hair! This is what the gods use to deep-condition their hair. This is what Zeus uses to deep condition his hair, people! So, yeah, I liked it...a lot.”
4. A microfiber towel that’s gentle on your hair
Another cause of frizz-causing damage is friction and tugging from overzealous drying with a regular terry-cloth towel. Go gentle on your hair post-shower by switching to a microfiber towel. Pat down your hair or wrap your hair in the towel—whichever is your preferred method. A great option: the Aquis Original Hair Towel. One Amazon reviewer writes: “I am loving this towel and so is my hair! My hair dries much more quickly, there is less frizz, and it really looks smoother. Best purchase this year.”
5. A hair oil for more intense moisture replenishing
Applying an oil to your hair may sound scary—don’t we try to avoid oily hair? But maybe we shouldn’t, especially those of us fighting the battle with frizz. Specially formulated hair oils are great for smoothing frizz and flyaways and reintroducing essential moisture that’s been stripped away by heat styling, chemical treatments, or overwashing. Reviewers sing the praises of the Ouai Hair Oil, which claims to not only fight frizz and prevent heat and UV damage but deliver a “high-gloss, super-smooth” finish for all hair types. For best use, work one to three drops into damp hair and let it air dry or apply it through the ends of blow dried hair to tame frizz. One Sephora reviewer writes it’s “my absolute favourite [sic]! Can’t live without it. Leaves my hair soft, shiny and healthy looking. I like to put in on when my hair is damp then blow dry. No frizz!”
6. A conditioning spray that instantly de-frizzes
You’ve likely heard of dry shampoo, which claims to freshen the look of oily unwashed hair. In contrast, the Living Proof No-Frizz Instant De-Frizzer, a dry conditioning spray, claims to “instantly tame up to 92 percent of frizz on dry hair.” For days when you just need a bit more moisture, use this spray like you would a dry shampoo, spraying the canister six to 10 inches away from dry hair and combing through with fingers or an actual comb. One Sephora reviewer bought a mini bottle to keep in her purse, and swears it was the best decision she’s ever made: “I live in the south where it is humid all summer and literally the worst time for my hair. I have naturally wavy, thick frizzy hair and, let me tell you, this product helps all my problems. It controls the frizz, [is] light weight, not greasy, and leaves a beautiful shiny finish.”
7. A magic multi-purpose product you already have at home
As much as we prepare for and attempt to prevent frizz, sometimes we lose the battle. In those cases, you need a product to smooth down the damaged hair strands puffing up around your head. Aquaphor is your surprising but effective friend here. The healing ointment is a staple product for many reasons, but if you haven’t tried it on your hair, now’s the time. Dab a pea-sized amount onto your palms, rub your hands together, graze over the crown of your head carefully as to not make your roots oily, and then work it through the ends of your hair. Writes one Amazon reviewer who uses it for this purpose: “I put just a little in my fingertips and pull a little through my frizzy hair. I remain frizz-free for the next several hours and it also adds a little body! Amazing stuff. Try it on your dry frizzy hair and you will be amazed!”
8. A silk pillow for reducing friction while you sleep
Have you ever woken up with your hair matted near your neck or full of kinks because of sweat? We sleep with our hair squished between our scalp and pillow, and to make matters worse, we move around at night, dragging our hair with us. Friction between a regular cotton or polyester pillowcase and your hair can cause damage and breakage. Switching to a silk pillowcase adds a slickness that reduces that friction. At a fraction of the cost of higher end brands, the Ravmix 100% Pure Mulberry Slip Silk Pillowcase comes in a variety of colors and has a 4.5-star rating of over 1,100 reviews. One Amazon reviewer writes: “I was and continue to be amazed at the results. Even after a night of lots of movement, my hair is close to frizz-free in the morning, which has never been the case. The pillowcase itself is very soft, and it's really nice that it zips over the pillow to prevent slippage.”
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.