Ah, static—the bane of our winter hair. The cold weather commences and our strands turn into some sort of science project. But speaking of science, what's the reasoning behind the static anyway? It turns out when two, unlike materials, rub against each other, the electrons are transferred from one surface to another. However, on a surface that doesn't conduct electricity well (like dry hair), the charge builds up and the electrons sit there with nowhere to go. As a result, the hair starts spreading apart and getting that funky, staticky look. It seems impossible to tame wild flyaways after throwing a sweater or a knit hat on, so what's a person to do?
Fear not, as we've rounded up some of the best tips from top hairstylists for eliminating static for good so you can make it a thing of the past.
Look for Avocado Oil
Celebrity hairstylist Enzo Angileri confirms that dry hair is indeed a major culprit of hair static: "It's important that you don't let your hair become too dry. If you keep your hair moisturized, you'll never see or have static. The key to keeping hair moisturized is using products that include avocado oil. I love Infusium23's Moisture Replenisher Collection because it contains both avocado and olive oil, and the conditioner is fantastic—it nourishes even the driest hair.”
While acting as a moisturizer for dry hair, avocado oil may also help seal your hair cuticle—protecting your strands from future breakage. The oil is full of essential fatty acids, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which are great for your hair.
Smooth Strands With Macadamia
"Mix one part Macadamia Professional Nourishing Moisture Oil Treatment and one part Macadamia Professional Whipped Detailing Cream ($19) for a hydrating calm-down for fluffy strands. Smooth this from roots to ends to tame static," says stylist Anna Lyles.
Not only does macadamia oil help tame frizzy strands, but it also moisturizes hair and makes it shine. By locking in moisture with natural protein, macadamia oil helps protect dry, fragile hair from future breakage, too.
Skip the Brush
According to celebrity stylist Jenny Cho, your brush may be a major reason for that static cling: "Brushing causes friction between your hair and the bristles, which generates static electricity," explains Cho.
Plastic brushes tend to generate more static electricity, so they're more likely to have your hair standing on edge. If you can, swap your plastic brush out for a wood or natural-bristled one to reduce static. Or, you can spray a light mist of static guard over your brush—just know that a heavy coating will make your hair greasy.
Using a wide-tooth comb is a great replacement in this case. Its spaced-out teeth reduce friction-induced static.
Try a Leave-In
"My personal favorite to fight that dry winter static hair is a combo from Eprouvage. I like to treat the hair with the Eprouvage Reparative Treatment Masque (Byrdie note: this product is discontinued, but we recommend the Authentic Beauty Concept Replenish Mask, $38), and follow that up in the winter with the Eprouvage Replenishing Leave-In Conditioner ($18). It helps tame the static a lot," says stylist Donny Vasey.
Similar to adding moisturizing oils to your hair, deeply conditioning your strands can also cut down on static. When your hair is moisturized, it's less likely to stand up straight.
Beat the Heat
According to celebrity hairstylist Johnny Lavoy, thermal protectors help seal in moisture and prevent heat damage, which tends to dry out the hair, causing—you guessed it—static. Plus, it's always a good idea to protect your hair from heat, especially if you're a regular user of hot tools. High temperatures can dry your hair out, leading to breaking, damage, and major split ends.
Ionic hair dryers work by sending out positively-charged ions, which neutralize the negatively-charged electrons in your hair. When the oppositely-charged ions meet, positive ions neutralize the electrons, eliminating static.
It may sound silly, but running a dryer sheet through your hair will help get rid of static in a pinch. Lavoy says, "It's easy to keep one in your purse so you'll always have that secret weapon!"
Dryer sheets are loaded with ingredients that neutralize electrons in your hair, eliminating static. Not only does it help tame staticky hair, but it can also add a little scent to second-day strands. But, if you have sensitive skin, be sure to check the ingredients in the dryer sheets you use.
What causes static hair?
Static hair is caused when your hair rubs against something (say a sweater or brush for example), and the electrons from your sweater are transferred to your hair. This causes a build-up of electrons, and poof, you get static hair.
Is frizz the same as static?
Short and long answer: no. Static is caused by two unlike objects rubbing against each other, while frizz means that your hair's cuticle isn't smooth. Frizz can be caused by humidity, or if you have curly/kinky hair.
How can you prevent static hair?
One of the best ways to reduce static in the first place is to make sure your hair is well-hydrated and moisturized. Use deep conditioners when you wash your hair, lightweight leave-ins, and finish off with an oil to ban the static for good.
What shampoos should I use to prevent staticky hair?
If you find yourself with staticky hair, you want to make sure you're using a hydrating or moisturizing shampoo. This will help nourish dry hair and prevent static from happening in the first place.