Make my hair Seattle-proof
May 29, 2016 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I have shortish wavy/curly hair that I straighten and add some texture to with a wand. It really doesn't do well with rain/mist/humidity, but I live in a part of the country where I don't have to deal with that as much. What should I do to make it more manageable when I move to Seattle? I'm looking mostly for comparison-shopping advice on the different smoothing chemical treatments but I'm open to other ideas.

I'm a White woman with fairly thin, bleached blonde hair. I wash and style it once a week, and usually have to do just a tiny touch up daily. I don't want to have to style it too much more than that, and I want it to look fairly natural. I know how to style it curly, I just strongly prefer the straightened/texturized look, mostly because it's easier to manage. In bad humidity, it ends up becoming a frizzy poof that flips 90 degrees out on one side and 90 degrees in on the other...just not my thing. In an ideal world, I'd be able to leave the house without an umbrella and still look halfway presentable for the day.

I've heard of Pravana, Brazilian blowouts, keratin treatments, and others. What's my best bet?
posted by deus ex machina to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
FWIW, I'm from Seattle and my hair is MUCH MUCH MUCH curlier in Virginia than it ever was back home. So Seattle humidity is different than the type of humidity you might be used to, probably because there's a lower dew point in Seattle. You might not need to do that much to make your hair manageable.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:21 AM on May 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Agreed that the humidity is different. Show up and see how it goes. I can recommend my North Seattle Brazilian blowout person though if you need her.
posted by k8t at 9:33 AM on May 29, 2016

nthign that Seattle humidity is not like humidity elsewhere (and I'm from the Midwest and lived in the Mississippi river valley areas for the first 25 years of my life, so trust me, I KNOW humidity). I'm also a blonde woman with fairly thin (on top and thick in the back, FML) hair, naturally dark blond and slightly wavy but bleached and I prefer it straightened. My hair somehow straightens itself in Seattle. A round brush and some Sebastian Potion #9 for texture is all I ever need there, along with a very light application of TIGI Hard Head hairspray at the root-area for if I want to keep it lifted all day.

Humidity in the South makes the top of my hair flat and the bottom frizzy-curly-wavy. Humidity in Seattle just straightens my mid-to-end hair. It's weird.

I travel to Seattle fairly regularly for work and have started leaving my flatiron at home because I've never needed it.
posted by erst at 9:34 AM on May 29, 2016

The quality of the water in your shower might make a difference, too (soft vs hard, soft being better for frizz management); my hair hates humidity where I live, is less cranky in places where the water is softer.

I ended up cutting mine short for the summer to sidestep the whole issue. It's the nuclear option, but what a relief it's been to be free of the time and stress involved in frizz control (in my climate/water/hair situation).
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:44 AM on May 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I will note that while the comments about humidity are mostly true, the past couple years we've been getting total northeastern death hot humid days july-early September that make my curly hair get totally whacked out.

The rest of the year it may be fine, but my usual routine turns in to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when it's like 85 degrees and super crushingly humid.
posted by emptythought at 10:19 AM on May 29, 2016

When I went out there to interview, my hair was a mess within 30 minutes of getting off the airplane. Maybe it was a weird weather day, but I'd still love some tips in case that's what I can expect.
posted by deus ex machina at 10:19 AM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I started taking a chewable multivitamin and my hair looks so healthy! I live in the pacific nw, but my hair isn't bleached blonde.
posted by aniola at 10:46 AM on May 29, 2016

I have thick hair with a wave. If I want to wear it straight, I can go 3-4 days tops with blowout and touch-ups. How long had it been since your last blow-out when you got off the plane? Would you be OK with full straighten 2x weekly? That might be all it takes.

You might also consider a slightly different cut. If you will be on the East Side I highly recommend my stylist, she is fabulous. If you have flip/poof problem you might need more of an angle cut to get rid of some of the problematic hair.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:10 AM on May 29, 2016

Also keep in mind that the humidity "season" is flipped in the PNW--took me a while to adjust to the fact that it's more humid in the winter than the summer, since the Northeast is so dry in the winter.
posted by Automocar at 11:44 AM on May 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

So your hair being a mess 30 minutes after stepping off the plane is not exactly what you want to base a hair strategy on. Your hair will react differently to the water, the temperature, the humidity, and the seasons in dramatically different ways than you're used to if you move to a place with a different climate than you're used to. Your hair will adjust and there's no way to predict how, exactly, you'll end up or what exactly you'll need.

When I moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles, it took me a full year to adjust my shampoo, conditioner, product, and styling tools.
posted by erst at 11:54 AM on May 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Try a serum like Paul Mitchell Super Skinny and use it as the first step in your blow dry. It works by displacing the water from the hair more quickly without damage, and then sealing off the cutcle to future moisture exposure. If it's too heavy/oily for your color-treated hair, look for a styling cream that works on the same principle.

Is your blow-dryer is up-to-date? Ceramic heating elements have made the world of difference in terms of being able to thouroughly dry the hair without crisping it. And a thourough dry, topped with a finishing spray sealant, is key.

Any kind of relaxer treatment like a brazillian blowout is contraindicated for bleached hair. But deep conditioners or keratin could help by sealing off the cuticle and staving off moisture.

If you have the time to embrace a wet-set, it might work fabulously for your style ... after washing/conditioning, apply a gel-ish styling product and use scarves or clips to smooth it tight against your head, and air dry, do not remove until dry, touch up ends with heat tool. It has the advantage of producing a very humidity-resistant style, and with time will smooth the cowlicks that are causing that perpendicular effect.

Good luck, and good hair!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 1:22 PM on May 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

Like others here, my curls are less crazy making on the West Coast than elsewhere. So, I am hoping you find it less challenging than you expect.

When I lived in Richland, Washington, at one point, I had chin length hair. I would wash it at night and put it up in a pony tail and sleep that way. It had a nice, controlled wave that stayed put without product.

As noted above, I have also resorted to just cutting it shorter when humidity was making me hate my hair.
posted by Michele in California at 1:50 PM on May 29, 2016

The strongest treatment I know of is called thermal reconditioning, AKA Japanese hair straightening. It's what lots of white women used in the early 2000s to get stick-straight hair, but if your hair was super curly and coarse it just made it ordinarily straight. It is a permanent treatment: it lasts until the treated hair is cut off. It's expensive and it takes about 3-4 hours.

About 10 years ago stylists started preferring Brazilian treatments, possibly because they are less labour intensive and/or less chemically-obnoxious (which is a real thing for a stylist who would be around those chemicals all day). But Brazilian treatments aren't as effective, and the effect washes out after a few months.

Hope this helps.
posted by Susan PG at 6:50 PM on May 29, 2016

Any kind of relaxer treatment like a brazillian blowout is contraindicated for bleached hair. But deep conditioners or keratin could help ...

I came back to clarify this because I realized this was confusing.

Keratin its-self is a protein and a building-block for hair.

Straightening/smoothing treatments of recent innovation (which I hand-wavily referred to as "relaxers") do deliver keratin into the hair! Which is why they may be referred to as "keratin straightening!" However, they do so using a relaxer-grade chemical to render the hair pliable, and intense heat application to reform the curl, both of which are to be avoided on delicate blonded hair.

Deep conditioners, masks, and reconstructors, at salon or at home, can also contain keratin as an ingredient/selling point! Which is why I said the confusing thing! But they are a topical application, relying on heat at most to bind it to the strands, for less duration. Since lightening increases hair's porosity, these treatments are usually enough to make a marked difference in managability.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:24 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

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