“My hair looks so good on holiday” is something I’ve heard—and exclaimed out loud myself—many, many times. While it may be because you had the time to treat yourself to a hair mask while tub-lounging, or feel it’s because your skin and locks have gotten a nice recharge on vacation, it’s most likely just because you’re out of Singapore—our garden city of high temperatures that “feel like 37 degrees”, “40 percent chance of rain” and humidity levels that average around 84.2 percent. Essentially, the land of frizzy, unruly hair.
What causes frizz?
The same way you lock in hydration in your skin with lots of moisturising ingredients, hair too, needs serious replenishment to ensure a healthy barrier—in this case, protective lipids that keep the hair cuticle sealed and smooth. And while humidity is a key cause of frizzy, unmanageable hair, things like chemical treatments, heat styling and improper haircare can lead to a compromised cuticle as well, leaving “openings” for essential moisture to escape the surface. This leads to thirsty, damaged hair that yearns for nourishment, which then reaches out into the atmosphere to pull moisture from the humid air, causing further stress to the structure of hair, making it rough, dry and you know it, frizzy.
The team at Aquis, makers of the rapid dry hair turban, describe this best: “The hair cuticle itself consists of overlapping scales (keratinocytes), that do an effective job of resisting chemicals. These keratinocytes are much like shingles on a roof. Imagine if the shingles of your roof lifted in a wet storm, rain is able to penetrate into the rafters and if the shingles aren’t replaced, water will cause serious damage not only to the roof but to the structure of your home. The cuticle cells (or “shingles”) of healthy hair, contain a lipid layer that includes a protective lipid called 18-MEA. The 18-MEA is responsible for the hydrophobicity (water-repellent properties) of the hair and also helps to keep the cuticle layer smooth and closed. When this layer is intact, hair is naturally conditioned, and there is a decrease in surface friction which serves to reduce tangling and helps hair to be smooth and shiny once dry. When this lipid layer is depleted through water, chemical, or heat damage, hair strands are more susceptible to tangles, frizz, and breakage”.
So how do we maintain manageable manes amid all this heat and humidity? From nourishing treatments to replenish and restore hair health, to protective shields against all sorts of environmental and lifestyle aggressors, here are our solutions to fight the frizz.
Less washing, deep conditioning and cold rinsing
Frizz-fighting starts in the shower with a conscious cleansing system. Youtube-famous hairstylist, Brad Mondo advises using “just two dime sized amounts of shampoo across your scalp and roots only”, before letting that wash down the lengths of your hair, which ”provides enough cleansing for your hair, without the need for tugging or scrubbing, which can cause breakage and ruin your cuticle”. Experts constantly recommend against using products with sulphates or alcohol, which can overstrip and dry out hair further. Instead, look for gentle, nourishing formulas according to your scalp and hair type, and a conditioner that does the job of injecting hydrating and repairing ingredients (not silicone) while adding good slip to detangle tresses. We like Moroccanoil’s Hydrating Shampoo with antioxidant-rich argan oil and moisture-attracting red algae, and Abyssian’s Oil Conditioner with precious oils and silk proteins to deliver intense hydration while mending broken strands. And try cold rinsing—the reason why hair stylists suggest washing your hair with cold water in the salon is because the cooler temperatures help to seal the cuticle (the foundation of smooth hair) so you should do it at home too. Then once or twice a week, boost this cleansing ritual with a mask.
Celebrity hairstylist and Tiktok tutorial queen, Justine Marjan loves Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask, which features algae extract (rich in minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and vitamins that work on the hair and scalp too), and vitamin B, which replenishes strands and improves the texture and body of damaged, weakened hair. Virtue’s Restorative Treatment Mask is also another great creamy formula, fortified with brown algae, baobab seed oil and artichoke leaf extract to improve elasticity and shine, as well as proprietary damage repairing ingredient, Alpha Keratin 60ku.
Smart towel drying and a good leave-in moisturiser
Wet hair is weak hair, because it is in its most fragile and expandable state. And the last thing you should be doing—which we’re all guilty of—is to vigorously rub and wring your hair with a regular bath towel. Not only does this stretch wet hair to the point of breaking and tug hair from the roots, its material causes significant damage-inducing friction on hair. You should always just dab and scrub hair with a regular towel, or even better, make like Kourtney Kardashian and scoop it up in an Aquis Rapid Dry Lisse Hair Turban. This global bestseller cocoons hair in a soft, moisture-wicking microfiber wrap that channels water away from hair 50 percent quicker and evenly without heat and tension, respecting the integrity of each hair strand so you naturally minimise the possibility of frizz, breakage and split ends. Leave on for about 10 minutes depending on the length and density of your hair, then immediately seal in all that good hydration with a leave-in treatment to create a barrier between hair and moisture in the air.
Oribe’s Supershine Moisturizing Cream is an intense but fast-absorbing high-gloss option, with vitamin-rich botanical extracts, antioxidants and soy protein biopolymer, wheat amino acids and vegetable-derived protein to not only help hair retain moisture but also provide anti-frizz benefits without build-up. Or, you could go the easy breezy route like Hailey Bieber and spray on the cult-favourite It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product for an effortless air-dry. Hair oils like Kératase’s Elixir Ultime Versatile Beautifying Oil (an Emily Ratajkowski favourite) are also great at this stage.
Prep, prep, prep before hitting it with heat
We’d normally call it a day after the leave-in, what with working from home and all, but if you have an important Zoom call or need to go out, you best be prepping and priming your locks before any heat styling. Paul Percival of Percy & Reed recommends applying Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm for well, the perfect blow-dry: “It works as a primer, sealing and smoothing hair for the perfect foundation to create bouncy blowouts and last. Use your fingers to apply two pumps of this onto hair before using a comb for nice, even distribution”.
At a hair demonstration, the celebrity hairstylist to the stars (and friend of the Spice Girls) also shared a hack of adding the Smoothed, Sealed & Sensational No Oil Oil for Fine Hair to add silky volume without any frizz. If you prefer a lightweight spray-on protectant, Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray does the job with a patented Healthy Hair Molecule, a breakthrough solution to smoothing damp or dry hair without any weight or greasiness.
A few de-frizzing tips to hair styling
Once your mane is well-prepped, Adam Reed of Adam Reed Hair, and GHD global brand ambassador, encourages everyone to first thoroughly brush your hair. “I use a GHD paddle brush. The nylon bristles help to combat humidity and ensure smoothness and shine as well as distribute hair’s natural conditioning oils along the hair shaft. Always keep tension in the brush and brush in one fluid motion from the scalp to the ends of your hair. Brushing from the scalp ensures the follicles are stimulated in one direction, which in turn prevents frizz”, he says. When it comes to blow-drying, Reed says “the golden rule to combatting frizz when drying hair is to take your time to get the best results. You should always have the air blowing down the hair shaft from root to tip, and use a concentrate air nozzle. The GHD Helios Professional Hairdryer is great for this as it has Unique Aeroprecis technology which enables intuitive styling with more precise control for smoother salon results with +30 percent more shine”. He also advises to finish off each blow-dried section with a cold shot of air to set the style and seal the cuticle for amazing shine.
Products wise, styling balms like IGK’s Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm or O&M’s Project Sukuroi can contribute to sleeker hairdos when activated with heat, while Ouai’s Volumizing Hair Spray is all it takes to set everything in place without any stiffness. You can use the tried and true technique of spraying hairspray onto a brush (for straighter styles) for this, or do a 360 degree mist and just smooth and scrunch as you wish.