Weather affects every aspect of our lives. Bad weather makes traffic a nightmare. It can
disrupt our conveniences (electrical service, television service, etc.). We plan trips around weather patterns (going to the
beach in sunny summer weather, skiing in snowy winter weather). Weather can make us feel happy or sad, good and bad. It can help
us feel refreshed and energized, or just plain old.
With all the ways that weather affects us, it’s little wonder that it can play such havoc on
our hair. There are many ways that weather affects the hair. Let’s look at the effects of weather, season by season:
Summertime brings thoughts of beaches and swimming pools, and lying in the sun to get a tan.
The average person spends more time outdoors during the summer months, and two of the more common factors of summertime weather
are heat and humidity. Any woman who’s ever spent an hour styling her hair and stepped outdoors on a hot, humid day can tell you
firsthand that heat and humidity can ruin a hairstyle.
The physical side bonds in our hair are broken by the application of heat and water. This is
why we are able to style the hair using wet sets on rollers, and by using blow-dryers, curling irons and flat iron. Exposing
styled hair to a hot, humid environment causes these side bonds to break again allowing the hair to return to its natural state.
Naturally straight hair will have its curls begin to collapse. Naturally curly hair that has been ironed will begin to frizz and slide back into its curly state.
Some styling products can help to seal the hair shaft and make the hair resistant to the
effects of weather, but they can only do so much in very intense weather situations.
Another “weather effect” that’s common in the summer is sun damage. In the same way that UV
rays from the sun affect the melanin in the skin, it also causes changes in the melanin in the hair. Prolonged sun exposure can
lighten the hair, and sometimes, when dealing with artificial haircolor, can alter the color to an undesired shade. The UV rays
penetrate the hair shaft and disperse the melanin that gives the hair its color.
The most common weather-related effects on the hair during winter come from the cold (or
specifically the constant changes from cold to warm environments) and from static. Cold, dry air can cause the cuticle layer of
the hair to lift, and going into a warm, dry interior environment then leeches the moisture out of the hair, leaving it dry and
frizzy. This also provides the perfect conditions for static, which can make the hair very unruly.
Wind can also damage the hair. Exposure to strong persistent winds can create tangles and snags
in wavy and curly long hair. The wind buffets the hairs against one another which rough the cuticle layer causing the hairs
to catch on one another. In addition, hair that is repeatedly buffeted in strong or gusting winds can develop split ends as the
hairs brush against one another.
Most of these problems can be controlled with modern styling products, but there are limits to
what the products can achieve. It’s easier to limit your exposure to the elements.