Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Hair Losing Straightness

Q: I have a problem with my hair. It is quite damaged but that is not the question because I can get it to look shiny and healthy. I straighten it a lot because it is naturally curly/frizzy and I can get it really straight. As soon as I go outside or half way through the day it goes curly at the ends and kinky. I have tried every product (even dehumidifier) but nothing keeps it perfectly straight during the day and it gets me down as no one can see my hair when it's nice and straight. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.
A: Actually it sounds to me like the problem you have IS that your hair is "quite damaged" as you put it. Damaged hair tends to be very porous, meaning that it readily absorbs moisture. It also means that it releases moisture just as readily. And I'm afraid that if you aren't treating your hair for the damage, you may be doing more harm each time you straighten it.
Hair that looks bad because of humidity

The reason your hair loses its straightness mid-way through your day or when you go outside is that it is absorbing whatever moisture or humidity is in the air which is relaxing the side bonds you reset when you straightened it during the morning styling. Changing the wave pattern of the hair from straight to curly or curly to straight is accomplished by either breaking and reforming the physical side bonds of the hair (the salt and hydrogen bonds), or by breaking and reforming the chemical side bonds of the hair (the disulfide bonds).
The physical side bonds are broken by both heat and moisture. Wet setting, blow drying, curling irons, and flat irons are all used to break and reform the physical side bonds. The chemical side bonds are only broken by chemical reactions such as are created in perms, and relaxers.
So, since your hair is damaged and more porous than normal hair, it more quickly drinks in the moisture in the air around it. What you need to do is start conditioning your hair to keep it hydrated. Daily-use moisture-rich conditioner and weekly deep conditioning treatments are a good idea, as are monthly protein packs to help strengthen the hair and minimize the damage. I also recommend the use of an anti-frizz serum applied while the hair is still damp and combed through the hair, before drying. This should help to seal the cuticle of your hair and reduce the level of porosity a bit.
When you are straightening the hair, I also recommend the use of a pommade. Spread the pommade evenly over your fingers and apply it lightly to your hair before flat ironing if you use one, or after blow drying if that is how you straighten the hair. Pommades are usually wax based and will further seal the cuticle to prevent moisture from penetrating. There are also shine products (called spray laminators that are made from light fruit oils) which can help.
These may not completely elimate your problem immediately, but as your hair achieves better condition (less porosity) you'll find your straightening results last longer and longer.
Related posts:
Hair straightening
How to identify damaged hair
How to maintain your hairstyle in humid weather
How to prevent that the humidity of sweat affects straightened hair