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Summer Styling: How To Manage Your Hair In Hong Kong’s Humidity

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Style & BeautyPost Category - Style & BeautyStyle & Beauty - Post Category - Beauty & SpasBeauty & Spas

You’re not imagining it when you think your hair looks worse in summer. Don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s the humidity! Read on to find out how summer weather affects your hair and how to make your hair humidity-proof.

Most of us in Hong Kong have known the pain of watching our hair go from beautifully coiffed to either a limp mass of noodles to crazy bunches of frizz waving hello to everyone we encounter. Yes, we can all blame humidity for this. Humid weather means more moisture in the air, which you’d think would be great for our locks, but instead, most of the time our hair just looks dull and frizzy or puffy.

That’s because hair absorbs the moisture in the air, making each strand swell up and causing it to react in an unpredictable manner – yes, not all the strands in your head will behave the same way. It gets worse because the unevenness of moisture absorption can affect the way hair bends or twists, making some hair curlier, some frizzier or just simply flat.

Since there’s hardly any escape from the humid weather during the summer (unless you go on a holiday somewhere with less humidity), we’ve asked Anaitha Nair, founder of Hair by Anaitha in Kowloon, for her advice on keeping our locks looking 100 percent even during summer. A former Bollywood actress who appeared next to superstar Shah Rukh Khan in the hit Chak De India, Anaitha has since chosen a different path after marrying and moving to Hong Kong with her husband. She founded Hair by Anaitha after training with Paul Gerrard in Hong Kong and certifying at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in San Francisco.

Read more: Got Curly Hair? Here Are Salons, Products And Online Sites In Hong Kong Just For You!

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How Does Humidity Affect Different Hair Types?

Anaitha explains to us that apart from the usual woes that humid weather brings, it can have an even worse effect on two types of hair: highly porous hair with damaged cuticles and dehydrated, moisture-craving hair. If you have either (or worse, both) of these conditions, you’ll end up with frizz during humid weather:

The cuticle is the gatekeeper for your hair. I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining a healthy cuticle through the various chemical, heat and styling processes we undertake on a regular basis. Asian hair has the strongest cuticle, which is why poker-straight Asian hair rarely reacts to humidity by frizzing up.

If you feel that you should be safe from Hong Kong’s humidity because you have straight hair, think again! Anaitha adds,

People with straight hair but a damaged cuticle can also develop frizz on a humid day. Curly and wavy hair across the board has a weaker cuticle that is uneven, in addition to being devoid of moisture due to this uneven cuticle on a constant basis. An uneven or open cuticle doesn’t retain moisture, therefore when a city like Hong Kong, which is famous for its humidity, provides an atmosphere that has more moisture than the moisture inside the hair shaft, the open cuticle allows all of it to penetrate the hair – causing frizz.

What Can I Do For My Hair Style During Humid Days?

Sometimes, it seems like a bun (not the bakery kind, but that works too) is the only hair style solution to humidity, especially when the moisture in the air leaves your hair looking limp and flat. Unfortunately, this is something that will inevitably be true for some of us. According to Anaitha, while high-density, thick hair will still manage to maintain volume on humid days, “scantier and thinner hair will fall flat for certain. No product – volumising or otherwise – or even  the best blow dry, is a match for Hong Kong humidity. Hair extensions are a good option for volume if your hair is scanty. There are all kinds of toppers and wefts available in the market today that are great to add volume; however, they will frizz too as they are made of real hair.

On a moderately humid day, good old hairspray and anti-frizz products help a bit, but on a very humid day you are better off using a hair iron for maximum heat, doing a keratin treatment to tide you through the summer or tying it up and experimenting with various pulled-back hairstyles and accessories. The only fool-proof method I’ve seen combat frizz in Hong Kong is keratin or some form of smoothening or straightening [treatment], which is why they are so hugely popular.

Keratin treatments, which seal the cuticle with keratin proteins to keep it smooth, usually last between two to four hours (or much longer if your hair is especially thick and long), and the results last for around two to three months. As Anaitha says, keratin treatments are common in Hong Kong, and you’ll find many salons offering different options. Two of the most recommended treatments by stylists include the Keratin Complex Smoothing Treatment and the bhave Smooth XT, which claims to keep hair silky smooth in the worst humidity for up to four months.

Read more: Top Hair Salons And Hairdressers In Hong Kong

best hair style hong kong humidity

What Should I Do To Maintain My Hair’s Appearance In Humidity?

Although it’s inevitable that it will be a struggle to keep hair looking its best during humid weather, Anaitha has a few pointers that might help us with the challenge. While it’s necessary for scalp health to shampoo regularly, Anaitha cautions that too much shampooing might strip the scalp of its natural protective oils. She says, “On a humid day, you are better off not shampooing  so that the natural oils of your hair are able to weigh your hair down and hold it together better than freshly washed hair.”

She also emphasises the importance of using conditioner to help keep frizz manageable since the ph value of conditioner helps close the cuticle, adding that “in Hong Kong, just a blow dry isn’t enough for frizz, you will need stronger heat, like a hair iron, to shut the cuticle such that moisture doesn’t penetrate.”

Although anti-frizz products can help with hair that isn’t already prone to too much frizz, Anaitha says that the humidity of Hong Kong is such that even anti-frizz products can’t perform miracles on hair that’s damaged or already prone to frizz due to its texture. Her suggestion is,

On a humid day, if you wish to look neat, ensure you’re indoors in an air-conditioned environment. If you’re going to be outdoors, opt for a tied look with some spray or gel to hold it in place. A slick ponytail, a low bun with a centre or side part, plus hair accessories that will ensure the hairline is neatly put away – these will go much further in looking neat on a humid day than any anti-frizz product.

Read More: Kids Haircuts – The Best Barber Shops And Hair Salons For Kids In Hong Kong

 Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2018 by Darrin of Daz Hair and updated in June 2024 by Team Sassy Mama. 

Feature image courtesy of Getty Images; image 1 courtesy of cottonbro studio via Pexels; image 2 courtesy of Getty Images; image 3 courtesy of Anh Nguyen via Pexels.

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