Air Travel and Static Hair

Woman with static hair
Q: There is always electricity on my hair when I travel by plane. My hair looks terrible when I arrive at my destination, and I hate it. What causes static electricity during flying? What can I, as a woman, do to avoid this annoying static hair? My hair is straight and slightly longer than shoulder length.
A: Traveling by plane can indeed lead to an unwanted encounter with static electricity, and it can be very frustrating when it leaves our hair looking terrible upon arrival at our destination. Static hair is primarily the result of low humidity in the airplane cabin, which can lead to an accumulation of the dreaded static electricity.
Airplanes typically maintain low humidity levels. This is better for passenger comfort, but this dry environment is also ideal for the buildup of static electricity. The dry air tends to strip moisture from both our hair and skin, making them more susceptible to static electricity. Friction between your hair and materials such as airplane seats or headrests can also result in an accumulation of electric charge.
When the air in the plane is dry, it can cause an imbalance of electrons on the surface of your hair. As a result, individual hairs become charged and repel each other, causing the frizzy and unruly static hair. This is particularly noticeable in people with straight hair like yours, as individual hair strands become more visibly affected by static electricity.
To avoid this problem and make your hair look good despite the challenges of air travel, some hair care strategies can make a significant difference. Consider using a moisturizing conditioner before your flight to mitigate the effects of low humidity. Additionally, applying a leave-in conditioner or a light hair oil can add an extra layer of moisture, reducing the likelihood of static buildup.
Carrying a small-sized anti-static spray in your handbag is also a good idea. These sprays typically contain ingredients that neutralize static charge, providing a quick solution for those moments when your hair starts to rebel mid-flight or upon arrival. This spray makes your hair more manageable and helps it look smoother.
Hairstyles that limit potential friction and exposure of individual hair strands to surfaces that cause static electricity also help. Opt for buns, ponytails, or braids that keep the hair strands close together, reducing the chance of static electricity. These hairstyles also make it impossible for individual hair strands to rebel when affected by static electricity.
It is advisable to avoid excessive brushing of the hair during the flight, as this can contribute to the buildup of static electricity. Instead, opt for a wide-toothed comb to gently detangle your hair if needed. If you must use a brush, choose one with natural bristles such as boar bristle.
Staying adequately hydrated during your flight is not only beneficial for your overall well-being but can also indirectly contribute to better moisture balance in your hair. Therefore, drink plenty of water. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol, as they contribute to dehydration.
See also: Air travel and oily hair