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How to deal with your frizzy hair this summer: salon keratin treatments give you smooth shiny hair and it’s also possible to treat yourself at home.

Frizzy hair days: how hair smoothing tames summer locks, and three places to get smooth in Hong Kong

  • For many women, the arrival of summer with its high humidity is a source of dread because it makes hair frizzy
  • There is a temporary solution, however – hair smoothing using the power of natural keratin is the best known. Do it at home, or visit certain Hong Kong salons

There is a big reason some women dread the arrival of summer (and we’re not talking about squeezing into a bikini). As temperatures rise, so do the humidity levels, causing hair to frizz to epic proportions.

Fortunately, a temporary solution appeared around 10 years ago when hairdressers began to offer in-salon hair smoothing treatments that promised to tame unruly tresses into sleek manes.

“The hair smoothing craze started in South America and became popular thanks to a specific product called the Brazilian Blowout. The first generation of treatments were controversial, due to the toxic levels of formaldehyde in the formula. Now the technology has developed so much, giving better results without the toxic chemicals,” explains Marek Wan, director of La Biosthetique hair salon in Hong Kong.

To understand how these anti-frizz treatments work requires a quick chemistry lesson. Frizz is caused when hair is damaged and lacks moisture, causing the hair cuticles to open and become more porous. Throwing humidity into the mix makes it worse – the hair absorbs more hydrogen, which in turn bonds to water molecules and proteins in the hair, causing even more frizz.

The Brazilian Blowout, in its latest incarnation, is based around keratin, a natural protein found in hair.

“Keratin treatments are very different to straightening perms or a relaxer. It works because the keratin bonds to your hair to create a protective layer around each strand, while sealing the cuticle. The hair shaft becomes a flat surface that, like a mirror, reflects shine, while the protein creates a softer texture,” explains Roland Boutin, co-founder and director of the BruneBlonde salon at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong hotel in the city’s Wan Chai district.

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The first few generations of anti-frizz treatments had drawbacks. The application process was often lengthy (up to four hours) and involved applying extremely hot irons to the hair to activate and seal in the ingredients.

Clients were advised not to wash their hair for up to 72 hours after the treatment. And while the results did include smoother hair, some formulas would leave behind a film that could be mistaken for grease.

“In days gone by a trichologist may have been against keratin treatments because the flat iron used needed to be hot. When you use too much continuous heat it weakens the bonds holding the hair together, resulting in breakage,” says trichologist Andrea Clark.

Today, the options are bigger and better. In addition to using fewer chemicals and featuring more “naturally derived” ingredients – BruneBlonde’s formula, for example, contains caviar – the process and application of the formula can also be adjusted to suit the client.

“When we started, we were doing the treatment on the whole head. Now we are customising the services more. Sometimes we can apply the treatment only on the hairline, or the ends of the hair, so there is still some volume at the roots. We can monitor everything from the heat of the iron to how many strokes we use. Clients can even wash their hair the next day if they are happy with the results. How long it lasts, and the final look, really depends on the stylist,” says Boutin.

The technology has also advanced. La Biosthetique’s apple stem cell treatment, for example, uses apple stem cells to balance the hydrogen levels and restore softness. The fact that it is gentler means that it works progressively and is safe to be applied consecutively.

“There are fewer restrictions for the client. For example, it’s not necessary to use a sulfate-free shampoo to ensure the treatment lasts longer. Unlike before, you can colour your hair immediately afterwards. Sometimes the effects last for up to four months, so you can even get away with doing the treatment once a year as long as you plan it before the summer months,” says Wan.

Before the Anti Frizz Treatment at Emmanuel F in Hong Kong.

For those who are not willing to invest in salon treatments, there are some at-home tricks to help battle the frizz. Clark says that the more damaged the hair is, the more it will attract moisture, so keeping hair healthy and strong is essential.

Boutin recommends oiling the hair before shampooing to improve texture, and to stop it absorbing humidity. There are also products that can be used to coat the hair, such as Olaplex and The Transformer.

“The main shift now is that keratin treatments could only be performed in the salon, yet a number of brands are now bringing out at-home kits that are worth trying,” says Lisa Caddy, consultant trichologist at Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic in London.

After the anti frizz treatment at Emmanuel F in Hong Kong.

Three hair smoothing treatments to try

Anti-frizz hair relaxing treatment at Emmanuel F (from HK$2,280)

This formula is PH-adjustable and includes natural and organic ingredients such as gluten-free wheat protein and organic marigold flower extract. It’s also free from irritants such as ammonia, sodium lauryl sulfates and sodium laureth sulfates.

Roland Boutin of BruneBlonde.

Premium caviar keratin at BruneBlonde (from HK$2,600)

Perfect for all hair types, including unruly and damaged hair, this smoothing treatment contains nourishing ingredients such as argan oil and hydrolysed caviar extract. It creates a protective protein layer around the hair shaft, resulting in smoother, stronger hair.

Transformer: at home anti frizz treatment from La Biosthetique.

Keratin apple stem cell treatment at La Biosthetique Salon (from HK2,530)

This mild formula features a cutting-edge technology which manipulates the hydrogen bonds in the hair, resulting in stronger, smoother and healthier locks. It also harnesses the regenerative power of stem cells from the Uttwiler-Spätlauber apple.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Frizzy hair days: gentle ways to tame your summer locks