What is Frizzy Hair and What Type of Hair is Prone to Frizziness?

By Camelia Smith
Published 19 Jul 2021 / Updated 24 Jul 2021

What is Frizzy Hair and What Type of Hair is Prone to Frizziness?

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Frizzy hair refers to hair strands that stick out or curl up sporadically in different directions causing uneven and messy textures that don’t align with the main body of the hair.

Depending on your hair type and condition, frizz can manifest in many different ways. Still, the end result is almost always the same – Fuzzy and irregular textures that refuse to blend in, making your hair look unruly, unkempt, and difficult to manage.

While there is no precise dictionary definition of what frizz really means, most women would describe it as their number one struggle in doing their hair.

So why do we call it frizz, and what makes your hair predisposed to this condition?

Read on to find out more …

Frizz Definition – What is Frizzy Hair?

frizz in hair meaning
Definition of frizzy hair

Frizzy hair is whatever the opposite of sleek and smooth hair is.

It looks untidy, frazzled, frayed, fluffy, fuzzy, damaged, or can be anything in between.

To put it simply, it’s a hair strand that’s completely worn out, has lost its suppleness, smoothness, and natural pattern, making it unpredictable to style and manage.

​​That’s why frizziness is often associated with the term “bad hair day” because frizz-prone hair cannot hold up its shape and style for a long period of time. Even the slightest temperature change can confuse your hair and throw a perfectly groomed hairstyle into a wiry mess of flyaways and tangles in mere minutes.

Historically, the meaning of frizz originates from the words frīs, friser, and frizzle: [1]

  • Old English word frīs (crisped or curled)
  • Old French word friser, frizer (frizzle, crisp, curl, ruffle)
  • Proto-Germanic: friz (curl). Frisaz (curly)
  • Frizzle: A tight, crisp curl.

In short: A Crisped Tight Curl.

The Meaning Of Frizz According To Dictionaries:

To form a mass of small tight curls, little burs, snags, or wisps as you see on a raised fuzzy surface of used cotton fabrics.

Frizz – Wikipedia
Frizz prone hair meaning – Your Dictionary

However, it’s important to note that frizzy hair does not necessarily mean curly hair. It may look slightly curly, but even straight hair can frizz up when the strands start wither.

What Does Frizzy Hair Look Like?

Frizzy hair looks neither straight nor curly. It has an irregular texture that makes it divert from the natural pattern from the rest of your locks.

Here are some examples of what frizzy hair looks like:

Short Strands Sticking Up

The most common form of frizz in hair is short strands that stick up and project away from the main body of the hair. This type of frizz is more noticeable in women with straight hair who strive for smooth and sleek styles.

Fuzzy and Irregular Texture

Fuzzy, fluffy, wiry, frizzled, dry, and patternless. This is a case of extreme frizzy hair that doesn’t belong anywhere on the head.

Dry and Brittle Ends

Frizzy ends happen when the oldest parts of the hair strands refuse to blend in, making your overall hairstyle look untidy.

This type of frizz is prevalent in people who do frequent hair coloring treatments or use heat styling tools.

Frizzy, dry ends usually stick up like unicorn horns, and they appear noticeably lighter in color than the rest of the hair.

Baby Hairs Across The Hairline

Frizziness can also appear as wispy strands along your hairline after you’ve styled your hair. The problem with frizzy baby hairs is that they are often too short to clip up and too messy to let loose.

Like a Curl Waiting to Happen

According to Lorraine Massey, the creator of the Curly Girl Method handbook, frizzy hair is a curl waiting to happen. [2]

In most cases, this is true. If you look closely at a frizzy hair strand, it looks like it’s trying to fold back onto itself due to lack of hydration.

Feels Rough When Touching

Frizziness is the result of years of accumulated wear and tear and damage. As a result, the cuticles start chipping away, creating gaps and cracks on the surface of the hair shaft. And when this happens, your hair loses its smoothness, making it rough when touching.

Not Clumping With Other Curls

If you have curly or wavy hair, a common sign of frizziness is when some of your curls refuse to clump with the rest. As a result, you end up with a lack of definition and a confused curl pattern.

Types Of Frizz

Surface Frizz

what is frizzy curly hair
Surface frizziness definition

Surface frizz happens on the outside layers of the hair, not underneath, which can sometimes look like static.

Halo Frizz

frizziness on top of the hair
Halo frizz example

Halo frizz only happens on the crown of the head where unruly strands stick up, providing the illusion of a crown floating around the top of the hair. It creates a halo-type effect on the head which is often shapeless, patternless, and bushy.

Halo frizz doesn’t appear anywhere else on the head.

In the curl Frizz

curly frizzy hair fringe meaning
In the curl frizz example

This type of frizziness happens inside your curls (underneath), causing a lack of curl definition and volume.

Pouf Ball Frizz

big frizzy hair
Big pouf ball frizz example

Pouf ball frizz happens in multiple layers in your hair, causing your whole mane to expand, creating a pouf ball’s illusion.

This type of frizz happens on the top, underneath, and is often the hardest to manage as it overwhelms your hair.

Multi-layered frizziness is often common in women who don’t have a real curl or wave pattern.

Baby Hair Frizz

frizzy hair fringe meanings
Frizzy baby hairs example

Frizzy baby hairs at your hairline are small wispy strands that refuse to lie flat when you’re styling your mane. Baby hairs can be tricky to control because they are too short to clip up.

Frizz at The Ends

hair that is frizzier at the ends
Frizzy ends example

Frizziness at the ends, also known as split ends, is the occurrence of dry and brittleness at the tip of the hair, causing it to split and flake.

Everyone, regardless of hair type, suffers from split ends because the tips of the hair are the oldest part and the furthest from the scalp, which means they don’t get enough natural oils from the scalp, resulting in crunchy ends that need constant touch-ups with hair products.

Causes of Frizzy Hair

factors that cause frizz

There’s likely a whole combination of factors that make the hair prone to frizz, but the main cause is always the same:

Raised cuticles (disrupted or damaged external layer).

If you zoom in on a frizzy hair strand, you’ll notice that the cuticles are raised instead of lying flat and even.

This is due to aging, damage, weathering, and in some cases, hereditary.

Your hair type and texture can play a significant role in how frizzy your hair looks. For example, curly hair is more susceptible to frizz because it will kink up from moisture or humidity in the air.

Curls are naturally drier because of their intricate texture, making it difficult for sebum (the natural oil produced by the scalp) to travel along the hair strand.

Is Frizzy Hair Genetic?

While there is no such thing as frizzy hair genes or frizzy hair syndrome, some hair types can be more sensitive to frizzing due to their texture and reaction to moisture, styling products, and lifestyle.

Here are some of the main factors that contribute to frizzy, unruly hair:

Humidity

Humidity is the hair’s number one nemesis because it causes the protein cells in the hair to swell, making your hair look puffy within minutes.

When the hair is humid, the extra moisture needs to find its way somewhere. Naturally, humid air infiltrates areas of low moisture (dry), and human hair is the perfect destination if it’s not adequately moisturized.

Once the extra moisture sets into the hair, it forces the cells to expand until they disrupt the outer cuticle layers, causing frizz.

Best tips to stop your hair from frizzing in humidity

Hair Porosity

Another contributing factor to hair frizziness is porosity level.

Hair porosity is the measure of how much moisture your hair can absorb and retain. This is controlled by the outer cuticles layer. If the cuticles are tight and flat (low porosity), the hair shaft will struggle to absorb moisture. However, it will retain moisture for longer.

If the hair cuticles are porous and damaged (high porosity), the hair shaft will absorb moisture but struggle to retain it.

Hair with high porosity is more likely to experience frizziness because of its inability to hold on to moisture from your hair products like conditioners, masks, and moisturizers.

Your Hair Care Routine

If you color your hair frequently, crank up the heat on your flat iron, or blow-dry your hair every time you step out of the shower or use hair products that contain sulfates and alcohol, your hair care routine may be contributing to frizzy and dull hair that becomes impossible to manage over time.

What Type of Hair is Most Affected by Frizz?

Curly and Textured Hair

Curly and textured hair is more vulnerable to frizz as opposed to straight and caucasian hair. That’s because curly hair is more porous than caucasian and Asian hair. Another reason for frizz in curly hair is the lack of sebum distribution and lubrication along the length.

If the hair is straight, the scalp’s natural oil can travel along the length easily. But if the hair has twists and bends, the oil takes longer to reach the ends, which is why curly hair tends to stay dry and brittle.

Chemically Treated Hair

Chemical treatments like hair dyes, relaxers, and bleaching can stress your hair out, causing breakage, chipping of the hair cuticles, and other forms of damage to the hair’s natural texture, causing the hair strands to look brittle and frizzy in patches.

Damaged Hair

Years of accumulated damage cause gradual weathering of the hair strands, which eventually become highly porous (high porosity). When the hair is highly porous, water absorption causes the shaft to swell. The outer rough cuticle layers also make your hair stick to each other like velcro instead of gliding past each other, which is why you get tangles and snags easily.

Is Frizzy and Curly Hair The Same?

No. Frizzy hair is not the same as curly hair. While a frizzy patch of hair may look curly, frizz also happens to straight hair.

Frizzy hair is usually a result of damage from external factors, such as blow-drying, straightening, or humidity. In contrast, curly hair is a hereditary hair type and pattern that is not influenced by external factors.

Curly hair has natural wave patterns to its strands. Frizzy hairs do not have these waves. A frizzy hair strand takes the shape of a curl due to dehydration, forcing the hair to shrink and curl up.

Is Frizzy Hair The Same as Static Hair?

is frizz the same as static
Differences between frizzy hair and static hair

No. Static hair happens when there’s an imbalance between positive and negative charges on the surface of the hair due to friction from your brush, comb, towel, pillowcase, or hair accessories.

On the other hand, Frizz happens because of raised cuticles in the hair shaft causing it to swell when it absorbs moisture.

Your hair can naturally frizz because of its surrounding conditions like humidity, but static requires some manual interaction with the hair for it to happen, like taking a hairbrush to it.

But having said that, static charges can make your locks frizzy by causing the strands to repel each other and balloon into a big mess.

Does Frizzy Hair Mean Damaged Hair?

my hair is dry and damaged because of my hair care routine
Frizzy hair vs. Damaged hair

No. Not always.

If your hair is naturally curly or wavy, it’s more likely to frizz from damp and hot weather conditions due to its natural dry texture or porosity level. Even virgin curly hair which has never been colored, relaxed, chemically treated, or heat-styled can get frizzy if the moisture balance is not right.

Hair damage is one of the reasons why your hair may struggle to absorb and retain moisture, but it’s not always the direct cause of frizziness. There are many other factors like porosity, texture, your scalp’s natural pH balance, hair products, etc.

Does Frizzy Hair Mean Unhealthy Hair?

No. Frizz is the result of how your hair reacts to moisture and its surroundings.

Even healthy hair can frizz if the humidity is too high or the hair gets too alkaline from chemical products.

Sometimes, genes play an important part in how well our hair copes with moisture. For example, dry hair is hereditary amongst people with curly and textured hair. In these cases, even virgin (undamaged) textured hair would frizz simply because of the dryness and how the cuticle cells line up unevenly.

While most women would perceive frizz as a sign of unhealthy hair, but it’s not. All you have to do is use the right products to tame and prevent frizz when styling your hair instead of denigrating them.

Is Frizzy Hair a Sign Of Hair Loss?

No. Dry and frizzy hair is not a sign of hair loss.

Hair loss is caused by other factors that affect the hair follicles, which sit below the scalp. Frizziness happens on the shaft, which is above the scalp.

Is Frizz Bad For Your Hair?

No. Frizz is not bad for your hair.

It’s just one of the signs that your tresses need more attention and possibly a change in your hair care routine.

Frizz can be perceived as both a negative and positive trait depending on your fashion. Some people like to have a bit of fluff as it adds body and volume to fine and thin hair, while some hate the appearance of frizz because it messes up their sleek and smooth hairstyles.

It all depends on your hair type and hairstyle.

Nowadays, more and more women are embracing frizz as low-maintenance hairstyles seem to be the new cool look.

Read: Embracing the Frizz: How I Learned to Love My Crazy Hair

How To Get Frizz-Free Hair

Lay off the hot tools

Instead of drying your hair with a blow-dryer, try to air dry as often as you can.

Reduce the use of curling and straightening irons. Use DIY natural alternative methods to curl or straighten your hair. There are plenty of heatless hair styling solutions on Youtube you get good inspiration from.

Use a sulfate-free shampoo

Don’t use shampoos that dry out your hair. Most regular shampoos contain far too many alkaline chemicals that disrupt the hair and scalp’s natural pH balance, causing the cuticles to raise.

Use a gentle sulfate-free shampoo with low pH instead. It works better at smoothing the cuticle layer and also helps to keep a good moisture balance.

Use a hairspray to lock out humidity and fight frizz

If you’re out and about in the summer, always carry an anti-humidity hairspray or anti-frizz hair sheet.

It’s an excellent way to tame frizz, control the flyaways, as well as protect from static electricity, which can damper your hairstyle. An anti-humidity spray or sheet also boosts moisture back into dry strands while shielding them from other environmental factors such as wind and rain.

Always moisturize from the shower

A good hair care routine starts in the shower when your hair is still wet.

Always make sure to use plenty of conditioners after your shampoo to hydrate and moisturize. Don’t wait too long or until your hair is dry completely.

Wet hair absorbs hair products better, and it also helps with detangling when you have conditioner in the hair. It provides plenty of slip, therefore, reducing friction, statics, and flyaways.

Also, do not dry your hair with a cotton towel. Use a smooth microfiber towel to blot excess water instead.

Use a Leave-In Conditioner

Leave-in conditioners are excellent on-the-go products to keep your tresses hydrated, smooth, and in good shape when you want to lock in your style.

Conclusion

Frizz is not a hair type. It’s a condition that most people will eventually develop over time.

Therefore, understanding what frizzy hair means and what causes frizzy hair is a step in the right direction to finding the right products that will work for you.