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What Causes Hair Static? (And What You Can Do About it)

The weather is turning colder, leaves are changing color, and hair is...flying? That’s right-- we’re entering hair static season. So what exactly causes hair static? And just as importantly, how can you avoid it? Here’s how to keep your tresses tame this fall and winter. 

What Causes Hair Static?

When you were a kid, did you ever rub a balloon over your hair to create static electricity and then watch your hair stick to the balloon and rise as it was lifted away? Or maybe you even had a chance to try a Van de Graaff generator, one of the large silver balls that makes your hair stand on end when you touch it. Static electricity was responsible for both hair-raising experiments. (We’ll see ourselves out now.)

It turns out that the static you experience on an everyday basis in the colder months is the same phenomenon but in miniature. It all comes down to physics. (You didn’t know you were signing up for science class today, did you?)

When the air is cold, and especially when we turn on the heat, humidity is lower, allowing electrons to transfer more easily across dry surfaces, like carpeting, dry skin, and your hair. Friction (think warm hats) can also cause electrons to transfer. Electrons with like charges repel one another, causing your strands of hair to move apart, and voila, static hair. 

This buildup of electrical charge is also why you may get a shock when you touch a metal object, like a doorknob. It’s not much fun, and it’s definitely not going to help you have a good hair day. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to avoid or get rid of hair static.

Take Advantage of Ions

If you need to dry your hair, use an ionic dryer. Ionic hair dryers release negatively charged ions to counteract the positive charge found in water. Your hair will be smoother, and the negatively charged ions will help negate all the positive charges built up from dry air and friction.
 

Go Natural

Synthetic fibers, especially nylon and polyester, hold electrical charges better than natural fibers do. Look for natural fibers like wool, cotton, or silk when choosing hats and scarves. And don’t forget about your pillowcase! Your hair builds up a lot of friction at night. Using a silk pillowcase will help keep your hair from succumbing to static while you sleep. 

Stick to Metal

Instead of using plastic combs, which act as insulators and prevent static from leaving your hair, opt for a metal comb. Since metal conducts electricity, the excess electrical charge in your hair is transferred to the comb, helping to tame your tresses.

Add Moisture

Since a lack of moisture contributes to static forming in your hair, it only makes sense to battle static with moisture. Choose moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that contains natural oils, like Hidden Waterfall and Terrace Garden. Remember that you should never skip conditioning your hair. If you do, your hair cuticles will remain open after shampooing, allowing moisture to escape your hair shaft and leading to more static. If you find that you still need extra moisture, try using a DIY hair mask once a week. 

Hair static doesn’t have to ruin your fall and winter fun. Just use the above tips, and you’ll have a picture-perfect mane all year long.

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