Anyone who’s experienced flyaways and rogue hairs knows just how frustrating they can be. Of course, there's nothing wrong with frizz and flyaway strands (please read this), but if you’re fed up with repeatedly smoothing them down with hairspray (which honestly, doesn’t even seem to work most of the time), then you’re probably more than ready to find a solution that actually gives good results. And since your strays and flyaways could be a result of a number of things (like heat damage, breakage, new hair growth, static, or humidity), the wispy strands that stick straight up are difficult to understand and even trickier to style.
So, we sorted through and tried a variety of tips from hairstylists, co-workers, friends, Byrdie editors, and even the internet to come up with the eight best tricks for preventing and getting rid of flyaways. Whether you’re looking for a long-term solution or hack for smoothing them down in a pinch, we’ve got all the tricks for you. Keep scrolling to find out what tips and styling products to try for your smoothest, sleekest mane yet.
Find a Great Conditioner
Because flyaways are often a result of dry hair, a great hydrating conditioner encourages style cooperation. Try limiting the number of times you shampoo (which can strip the hair of moisture) and bump up the hydration instead. Incorporate a conditioning mask into your shower routine at least once a week to nourish and strengthen your hair. Even those with super-fine hair can benefit from a hair mask as long as the product is thoroughly rinsed out following the treatment. The Coco & Eve Like a Virgin Super Nourishing Coconut & Fig Hair Masque ($45) is suitable for all hair types, while the David Mallett Mask No. 3: La Couleur ($75) is ideal for preserving hair color and repairing processed hair.
To get the most out of your mask, apply it to your strands right before stepping into the shower. Wait a few minutes before rinsing the mask to allow the warm steam to help the product penetrate into the air and lock in much-needed moisture.
If you have fine and/or color-treated hair, a formula that's lightweight yet rich in moisturizers will be the ultimate choice.
Convert to a Wide-Tooth Comb
First things first: skip the brush. While you should never use a normal brush on hair when it's soaking wet (which is when hair is its most vulnerable), those prone to flyways should pay special care to this tip. "If you brush your hair when it's starting to dry, almost dry, or all the way dry, you'll experience unwanted frizz," says celebrity hairstylist Kylee Heath. By waiting until hair is slightly dry to brush—or using a wide-tooth comb to detangle—you can prevent hair breakage and, therefore, future flyaways. Wet or dry brushes can work well too, but if your hair is especially fragile and prone to snapping, a wide-tooth comb is one of the best (and most affordable) products for flyaway hairs.
To properly detangle knots, start at the ends of your hair and make your way up, rather than starting at the roots and pulling downward. This will ensure you don't cause any breakage in the process and instead are left with smooth, knot-free hair.
Put Down the Bath Towel
A fluffy cotton bath towel, while perfectly fine to use on your body, is too thick and textured to use on your hair post-shower. Thought a body towel like the one mentioned might work to squeeze out the excess water, it'll rough up the cuticle of your hair strands and create tangles, breakage, and frizz in the process. No fun. Instead, make the switch to a thin, microfiber towel, and you'll instantly notice a difference in the number of stray, short, and annoyingly upright hairs along your hairline and part. Remy Moore of New York City's Hairstory agrees: "It's not about roughing your hair up to get the moisture out quickly," he says. "In fact, it's the opposite. Make sure you get as much of the moisture out with your towel as possible, but not too aggressively." And although you might have heard another tip suggesting the use of T-shirts as hair towels, a microfiber towel, like one of the options shown here, is the best option for protecting the integrity of your hair strands.
Skip wringing or drying your hair with a towel, and try drying strands with a microfiber towel or lightweight hair turban instead.
Use Strategic Styling Products
When it comes to hair products geared to minimize flyways and cater to your hair texture, finding the perfect arsenal of styling products is key. After all, the last things we want are stringy strands or weighed-down texture and grease. Someone with thin hair would likely not need a styling product as rich and heavy as someone with thick or coarse hair, so try matching the weight of the product to the texture of your hair for optimum results. Also look for a formula that multitasks to address a number of hair matters, like heat protection and shine in addition to flyaways to keep your products to a minimum. We recommend either of these two products, which kill multiple birds with one amazing-smelling stone.
Skip the Heat
Heat-styling can be useful for sealing the cuticle and preventing frizz, but the overuse of hot tools and too much brushing will bring hidden flyaways out of the woodworks. If you simply have to break out the blow-dryer or curling iron, use a heat-protectant spray before styling to block the hot air from inflicting further damage to your fragile strands. Once you've finished styling, follow up with a lightweight hair oil right away to will help re-infuse some much-needed moisture into parched strands and bring runaway hairs back to the mothership that is your head. To apply it, pour a pea-size amount into your hand, and warm it between your palms and fingers. Then, use your hands to gently rake the product through the hair strands.
Of course, it's preferable to just let your hair air-dry if possible—whenever possible—and we've found this high-tech drying spray from IGK and new, lightweight texture foam from Ouai to be key MVPs. Both products will give your hair a salon finish without any heat styling required. And less heat styling means less damage, which means fewer flyaways.
Try a Dryer Sheet for Static
Have you ever heard of the dryer-sheet hack? If you need a refresher, it's the internet's favorite away to swipe the static from the hair strands and smooth it down with the rest of the style. If you don't want to bring a box of Bounce sheets with you everywhere you go (we wouldn't blame you), try this substitute instead. Think of these adorably handy sheets from IGK as an elevated version of a dryer sheet. An ingenious hair product designed to smooth any rampant flyaways, these guys work to weightlessly settle static, and they work especially well for finer hair types.
Remember Your Hand Lotion
Since flyaways can be the result of hair dryness, it makes sense that a little bit of lotion is a quick fix for noticeable wispy hairs—but don't go overboard. "When you put lotion on your face or your body, whatever's leftover on your hands, use that on the top of your head," celebrity hairstylist Chris McMillan tells Allure. "Lightly layer it and don't use a ton." If you don't already keep a tube of lotion in your bag for your hands, you might want to toss one in for the sake of your hair.
Use a Multipurpose Lip Balm
Lip balm functions similarly to lotion when it comes to taming stray hairs, but its pomade-like texture gives it a little bit more grip and oomph. Use your fingers to apply a small amount only to the areas that need it, as this will ensure you avoid making the other strands look greasy. And salve will work, but bonus points for using a subtle, sparkle-infused formula like this cult-favorite (and favorite among Byrdie editors) from Glossier.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.