Hair, Rain and Panic

Girl in the rain with an umbrella
Q: I often see women panic when it starts to rain and then they start whining about their hair. Why is rain such a disaster for a woman's hair?
A: Well, simply put, humidity and moisture can readily "undo" what many women spend a lot of time trying to do with their hair.
The process of styling hair to be fully straight or curly against the hair's natural wave pattern takes the application of heat or moisture, since water and heat can both break the physical side bonds that give hair its shape.
When the styled hair is then exposed to additional moisture (droplets of rain or even high humidity) the moisture breaks those side bonds that were reconfigured to create the desired style, and the hair tries to return to its natural configuration.
For women with curly or frizzy hair that they've struggled hard to make smooth and straight, rain means that the style will start to puff up and become unruly again. For those women whose hair is normally straight before they spent their morning adding voluminous curls and sexy waves, the rain means that the hair will start to fall flat. Either way, it's not a pleasant prospect when one has spent a great deal of time and energy to look good.
While there are products designed to help combat humidity and the effects of it on styled hair, these products have a limited use, and if the rain or humidity continues, even the greatest of these products will fail to protect.
Photo: Sanneberg/Shutterstock
See also:
Hair care in humid weather
The effect of the weather on our hair
How to protect straightened hair in the rain
Hair care