It’s no secret that rain is hair’s enemy number one. Just a few drops can instantly turn a great blowout into an unruly, fuzzy mess. Not to mention the havoc it wreaks on curls. But, seriously, why? What happens when that raindrop hits one of your strands? To get to the bottom of the issue, we consulted Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist (aka hair and scalp expert) at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York.
To understand rain’s impact, you have to start with your hair’s structure: Each hair fiber is comprised of long bundles of keratin proteins. These proteins form two different types of bonds: a permanent bond called a disulphide bond, which gives hair its strength, and a weaker, more temporary bond called a hydrogen bond. These hydrogen bonds form whenever your hair goes from wet to dry.
“Increasing humidity and moisture in the atmosphere cause an increase in this bonding, resulting in each fiber folding back on itself and becoming curlier and frizzier,” Phillips explains. All hair, whether it’s pin straight or kinky curly, is susceptible. But there is one thing everyone can do to protect it against a downpour: “It’s imperative to seal the hair cuticle,” Phillips says. “This will leave the fiber less susceptible to the moisture change.”
Her weapon of choice? Products that contain non-water soluble silicones, like dimethicone, which close the cuticles. A little goes a long way: A drop or two of Kérastase Cristalliste Lumiere Liquide - Prime or Beauty Protector Protect and Oil is all you need. Regardless of your hair type, switch to a hydrating shampoo and conditioner like these from Number 4 will coat and weigh your hair down so it doesn’t poof up. And skip the moisture-zapping blow dry on rainy days.
To get more tailored tips for weatherproofing your ‘do, we turned to Nikki Lee and Riawna Capri, co-owners of Nine Zero One Salon in West Hollywood For ladies with straight hair, they recommend misting Oribe Imperméable Anti-Humidity Spray after styling. It contains an ingredient that prevents atmospheric moisture from penetrating your strands.
Those with a wavy or curly mane typically have drier ends so applying an oil or cream like Sachajuan Finish Cream to damp hair will prevent breakage and help your spirals retain their shape. Got dry or damaged locks? Try all of the above plus a leave-in conditioner like Miss Jessie’s® Original Leave-In Condish to hydrate your hair so its less porous (and therefore less likely to soak up the moisture in the air.) When it comes to styling, Riawna recommends the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ approach. “Work with your natural hair texture, not against it,” she says. “Enhance natural curls with a barrel iron, or try a new braid or beanie.” Sounds like the perfect excuse to do some rainy day hair accessory shopping!