If you have curly hair and live in a humid environment, you likely suffer from frizzy hair. Curly hair tends to be dry and is particularly susceptible to humidity. It simply wants to soak up the moisture in the air, which causes the hair's cuticles to expand, which therefore causes frizz.
So how to control the frizz? It's possible to control frizz, but you need to arm yourself with the right products and proper styling. Here are a few rules to live by:
Careful With That Shampoo
Shampooing can strip hair of its natural oils, which are actually great frizz fighters. To avoid frizz, lather up only a couple times a week with a gentle shampoo, preferably one that contains no sulfates (see my list of the Best Sulfate-free Shampoos). Sulfate-free shampoos are gentler on the hair and the scalp. You can use baby powder or a dry shampoo to keep oil at bay between washings.
Also consider the "lo-poo" or the "no-poo" shampoos that are currently insanely popular among my New York friends with curly hair. Created by curly-haired women for curly hair, Deva Curl's No-Poo and Lo-Poo shampoos, are sulfate-free, full of organic moisturizers and created for ultimate frizz protection.
Embrace Conditioners and Oil Treatments
According to stylist Rita Hazan in More Magazine, "Hair is like skin: You must keep it hydrated." She tells the magazine she slathers on an oil treatment like Phyto Subtil Elixir Intense Nutrition Shine Oil before she goes to bed. Then she shampoos it out in the morning.
Unless you have super-fine hair (most curly hair is not fine), you should condition hair after every shampoo. A deep conditioner protects the hair's shaft, coating it so it is less able to soak up the humidity in the air. Allow the conditioner to stay on for at least 5 minutes before rinsing.
Never Rub Hair Dry With a Towel
Rubbing hair dry with a towel only roughs up the cuticle, making it more prone to the frizzies once it dries. Instead, squeeze hair dry with the towel. I read once that Drew Barrymore swears by squeezing her hair dry with super-absorbent paper towels (think Bounty). My friend with curly hair dries her hair with a super-absorbent towel that she got from a travel store (like these). She says it's the perfect size.
Comb in a Silicone Serum
Once hair is towel-dried correctly, comb in a leave-in conditioner or even better and especially if you are going to use a hair dryer, a curling iron or a flatiron, comb in a serum containing silicone (look for "dimethicone" on the bottle). Make sure each curl is coated.
Silicone serums ensure the cuticle stays smooth and offers protection from humidity.
The Right Kind of Blow Dryer
Invest in an ionic hair dryer (see my list of the best hair dryers), which dries hair much faster, therefore creating less damage to the hair's cuticles.
You should use a diffuser when blow-drying curly hair. Stylists swear by Deva's hand-shaped diffuser which allows you to actually get into the curls to dry them.
The Correct Way to Blow Hair Dry
Not blow drying hair correctly will definitely cause frizz. To dry hair correctly, hold the blow dryer under hair, squeezing curls in your palm as you dry. If you don't use a diffuser, aim the blow dryer nozzle downward, in the direction hair grows.
Watch That Hairspray, Try a Gloss Spray Instead
Most hairsprays and mousses have a high slcohol content which is incredibly drying to that hair you just protected with the conditioners and the serums. If you must spray hair, use a hairspray with little to no alcohol. Finish hair instead by spritzing a high gloss spray in your palm, rubbing your palms together and then "palming" your hair where the frizzies tend to pop up.
Try Palming a Heavy Cream Over Your Hair
I love this tip I read in Glamour magazine. To quickly defrizz hair, rub a pea-sized amount of Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream between your hands and then palm them over curls to the ends.
More resources for frizzy and curly hair: