How Do Products Fight Frizz?

How Do Hair Products Fight Frizz?

Curly hair is prone to frizz, but what exactly is frizz?

The curly hair strand is different in shape from other strand types like wavy or straight. This difference in shape causes the cuticle of the hair shaft to be raised more often than other hair types. Raised cuticles expose the interior structures leaving the hair vulnerable to the drying out. In the face of humidity, the water in the air around the hair shaft rapidly enters causing the hair shaft to swell giving that tangle halo known by many.

Overall the phenomena of hair swelling shows just how important finding and maintaining the hair’s optimum moisture level. Meaning that moisture is the key to frizzy hair. The more moisturized hair is the higher the probability that the cuticle is laying flat which gives the appearance of smooth tame hair, essentially making moisture control the most straight
forward approach to frizz-control.

Frizzy hair can ruin anyone’s day, especially during the summer time when humidity levels are at its peak. There are ingredients you should look out for to tame your mane so you can get more enjoyment out of your hairstyles!

Manufacturers of hair products for frizz control use moisturizers to control the level of moisture in the hair. Many use hair styling products with both natural and man-made ingredients.

In general, moisturizer product ingredients fall into 4 categories which are:
1. Humectants
2. Occlusivity agents
3. Keratolytic agents
4. Emollients.

Humectants help to draw moisture to applied areas from water available near the application site. Humectant ingredients consist of three compound types: alcohols, esters, and biological extracts. Compounds like propylene glycol, glycerin, collagen, and sugar alcohols like erythritol are mostly weak acids that donate functional groups that react and forming water molecules as a residual product of the reaction. When applied to the hair, surface reactions allow water molecules to form in the hair bringing moisture to the hair shaft providing needed
moisture and preventing frizz.

Occlusivity agents are typically thought of as sealants. These agents help prevent the evaporation of the internal water of the hair shaft by encapsulating the hair shaft. Products utilizing a sealant to prevent moisture loss are usually a polymer, like silicone. Or the natural version of polymer ingredient would be a nut butter from nuts like shea or cocoa.

Sealants mostly are natural products such as oils which all perform well in shielding the hair from outside factors leading to dry frizzy hair. However, not every oil is equal. Factors like the porosity of the hair shaft contribute heavily to how effective the oil is with sealing moisture.

Conversely, keratolytic agents promote cell renewal. The idea that new cells retain moisture better than older cells is a partially effective approach to retaining moisture in hair. Products with keratolytic agents have ingredients like acids or fruit extracts. Examples would be hyaluronic acid or grapefruit extract. These ingredients slough older skin cells off of the scalp revealing newer and more moisturized skin cells. Downsides of these products are typically product build-up and skin irritations. Manufacturers use very small amounts of these products in formulations and more often include them in cleansing products like shampoo.

Finally, emollient ingredients are used to cast the illusion of a smooth and soft texture. Copolymer blends coat the hair shaft giving a tactile feeling of smooth strands of hair. Like the occlusivity agents, the hair shaft is encapsulated however these ingredients don’t leave the greasiness associated with sealing oils like shea butter. These ingredients also reduce product build-up on the scalp reducing the chance for skin irritations. Manufacturers are developing novel products because of the wide range of potential compounds available. Additions of compounds like ceramides, aid in sealing the medulla in the interior of the hair shaft, ceasing the swelling of the hair shaft, and therefore the appearance of frizz.

Additional research has driven the hair product industry to explore many potential product types due to higher demands for effective products in the consumer market. As climates change and humidity levels increase across the globe, more individuals will ultimately face frizzy hair and will use hair products to address their unruly swollen hair shafts.


Sources Hair Care Market Size, Share, & Trend Analysis Report By Type (Product, Services), By Product (Shampoo, Hair Color, Conditioner, Hair Styling Product, Hair Oil), By Region, Competitive Landscape, And Segment Forecasts 2018 - 2025.” Mar. 2016, pp. 1–68., doi:GVR-2-68038-128-3.
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/02/my-lifelong-frizz-ease-addiction/517308/ ROBBINS, CLARENCE R. Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair. 5th ed., SPRINGER, 2016.