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There's no Geek Squad to help you when your hair goes on the fritz
(or rather, frizz). That's where this mane manual comes in. By Jolene Edgar
When an iMac crashes, we all know the drill: Flip through the manual, shoot the office IT guy a frantic email, wait for rescue. But when our hair goes on the fritz, we're paralyzed -- left to fend for ourselves with no instruction booklet to follow, no operator standing by. In fact, any attempt to reboot or refresh hair usually fails, since "most of the things we do to make it look good -- styling, coloring, even washing -- will ultimately damage it," says Jeannette Graf, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Medical Center.
As with any technical snafu, the best approach is to stop panicking and start troubleshooting: Identify the problem (frizz, flatness, breakage, flakes, fading), figure out the underlying causes, and eliminate them one by one. Until a hair hotline comes along, we've gathered the best advice from top stylists, colorists, dermatologists, and chemists. With this guide in hand, anyone can solve hair problems like a pro.
THE TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY:
Water -- the source of life -- is also the source of frizz. And while the science behind this is complicated, it's kind of fascinating as well, so bear with us. Curliness or straightness is determined by two kinds of bonds that connect the molecules in hair together, a sulphur kind (which can only be altered with harsh chemicals) and a hydrogen one (which is more pliable and can be manipulated with heat and styling products). When water in the air gets past the protective scales of the hair's cuticle and into the cortex, it dissolves the hydrogen bonds you spent an hour blasting into place with a blow-dryer -- allowing hair to revert to whatever level of kinkiness is dictated by the sulphur bonds. And while coarse, curly strands are more apt to frizz, straight hair certainly isn't immune. Bleach, brushes, razor cuts, hair-dryers and flatirons all compromise the cuticle, allowing the inner cortex to dry out and seek moisture elsewhere. Once humidity strikes, the hair sucks in water, expands, and- -- boom! -- fluff explosion.
1 Start in the shower. The more you can lock down the cuticle, the less water will be able to penetrate during
the day -- so get cracking. Shampoos
and especially conditioners labeled "smoothing" or "frizz-fighting" contain lightweight silicones and other reparative ingredients that "bind to porous spots on the hair to make it more water-resistant," explains R. Randall Wickett, professor of …