Saturday, May 27, 2017

Humidity-Resistant Hair Styling Products

It's the unofficial start of summer this weekend. For a lot of us, that means humid weather and frizzy hair - whether the dewpoint is high (above 50°F/10°C) or it's foggy, dewy or rainy.
Raindrops on a Monarda

In the last decade or so, the creative folks who make cosmetics ingredients have developed ingredients that withstand high humidity better than some of the older ingredients for providing "hold." They are slowly working their way into products in a variety of brands.

These ingredients are polymers - film-forming, even hold-providing. The performance of the product as a whole is the sum of its parts - so you do want to look for these ingredients if you really need to keep your hair together in high humidity - but keep in mind that just because they're in a product doesn't mean the product will suit your hair or your hairstyle.

What is humidity-resistance? It means a product is less likely to lose it's hold or allow your hair to lose its shape in high humidity as your hair (and the products in your hair) absorb moisture from the air around them. This is tested in the lab by applying a product to locks of hair and placing them in a humidity and temperature-controlled chamber for a period of time - usually many hours. Sometimes the hair is left in its natural state to see how much it expands. Sometimes the hair is intentionally curled to see how well it retains the curl. Good humidity-resistance means the hair doesn't lose it's shape too much, despite very high humidity conditions. That should apply to straightened hair too.

The Ingredients:
  • Polyquaternium-69
  • Polyamide-1 (usually used with another ingredient for hold and humidity-resistance)
  • Polyquaternium-72
  • Polyquaternium-11
  • Polyquaternium-10
  • Polyquaternium-4 
  • PVA/VP Copolymer (particularly in addition to any of the others here, alone it tends to fail in very high humidity over time)
  • "Acrylates copolymer" ingredients (often found in hairsprays, but now also in gels and other styling products) such as:
    • VP/DMAPA Acrylates Copolymer
    • "Polyacrylate acid"
    • Polyacrylate-2 Crosspolymer

Some Products Containing These Ingredients - as always, double-check the ingredient lists:
  • Alba Botanica Soft Hold Style Cream
  • Alba Botanica Strong Hold Gel
  • Arvazilla Ultra Curl Defining Cream with Argan Oil
  • Aussie Miraculously Smooth gel
  • Aussie Instant Freeze Gel
  • Bain De Terre Bamboo Ultra Control Styling Gel
  • Beyond The Zone Bada Bing Super Hold Gel
  • Biosilk Rock Hard Gelee
  • Bounce Curl Light Creme Gel
  • Boo Bamboo Frizz Contro Curl Defining Gel
  • Boogie’s Bold Hair Gel
  • Bronner Brothers Foam Moisturizing Wrapping Lotion
  • Bumble and Bumble Anti-Humidity Gel-Oil
  • Bumble and Bumble Curl Defining Creme
  • Bumble and Bumble Curl Conditioning Mousse
  • Bumble and Bumble Multi-Talented Sculpting Medium (gel)
  • Boldify Curl Defining Cream
  • Curl Friends Control Gel
  • Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper Gel
  • Deva Curl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam
  • Dippity-Do Girls with Curls Curl Boosting Mousse
  • Fragfre Styling Gel
  • Got2B Glued Spiking Glue
  • It’s A 10 Miracle Hold Gel
  • It's A 10 Miracle Styling Cream
  • Jessicurl Spiralicious
  • Kenra Curl Control Gel 10
  • Kenra Curl Glaze Mousse 13
  • Kenra Curl Defining Cream
  • LA Looks Nutra Curl
  • L'Oreal EverCurl Sculpt and Hold Cream Gel
  • L'Oreal Studio Head Lock Mega Gel
  • Madam CJ Walker Humidity Block Curl Gel
  • Mop Top Medium Hold Anti-Frizz gel
  • North American Hemp Co. Mousse
  • Not Your Mother’s Kinky Moves Curl Defining Hair Cream
  • OGX Coconut Curls Moisture Mousse
  • One N Only Argan Oil Mousse
  • Ouidad Climate Control gel
  • So Gorgeous Non Aerosol Volumizing Mousse
  • Schwarzkopf Amino-Q Hold Gel
  • Smooth Viking Strong hold Hair Gel
  • Tigi Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier
  • Paul Mitchell Cuels Ultimate Wave beachy texture cream-gel
  • Paul Mitchell Express Style Fast Form
  • Philip B Styling Gel
  • V05 Mega Hold Styling Gel (UK and European product)
  • Wet Line Xtreme Professional Styling Gel


  1. This post is PERFECTION (per usual). Thank you so much! I hope you are having a fabulous weekend. :-)

  2. Thanks for this information.

  3. Why do some products containing some of the ingredients listed dry super hard, but other products that contain some of the same ingredients do not? Ex: Got2be Glued dries rock hard, but Deva Volumizing Foam does not? They both contain the same ingredients (quat 69 or the polymers that make up quat 69). Im looking for something that fights humidity that contains a bunch of polymers but holds better than something with only PVP (currently using LaLooks) and don't know what which of the above ingredients to look for that would put a product in the high range for humidity resistance but between the two for hold. Thanks!

    1. Hello McStacy,
      Good question! The reason some gels dry super-hard and others with similar hold-providing ingredients do not is because of the 1) concentration of the holding ingredient (how much is in there), 2) presence of other ingredients that provide hold, including thickeners, 3) inclusion of ingredients used for keeping the dried product flexible - whether humectants (like glycerin, propylene glycol) or emollients like oils or conditioning ingredients.
      >Got2Be Glued contains Polyquaternium-69 (like Deva Foam), but it also contains Steareth 20 Methacrylate Crosspolymer (for hold), and PVP (for hold). It has sorbitol and panthenol as humectants and PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil for flexibility.
      >Deva Volumizing Foam contains Polyquaternium-69 and Polyamide-1 for humidity-resistance and light hold. That's all. Plus conditioning ingredients and herbal extracts. So it doesn't have a lot of support.

      If you're looking for something with more humidity-resistance than LA Looks, you are looking for super hold, max hold, mega hold, etc. One of the best things you can do it to read reviews of the product online - Ulta, Walgreens,, etc. First, pick a price range to narrow down the product list. There are good products here in all price ranges.
      Then look at the ingredient list. If you see more than 1 holding ingredient (like in the example of Got2Be Glued) - it probably has more hold. OR if that hold ingredient is in the first few ingredients listed.
      Examples for what you want might be Wet LineExtreme Professional gel, LA Looks Nutra Curl, Biosilk Rock Hard Gelee (be careful about the formula you pick, they've been changing formulas), Beyond the Zone Bada Bing. Good luck! -W

    2. Your explanations are genius. Cannot thank you enough!

  4. Thanks once again for another helpful and informative post. I was wondering if kinky curly come clean shampoo will remove all the non-water soluble ingredients and oils in the mentioned gels. I usually pre-poo with coconut oil and apple cider vinegar before shampooing. I have high porosity hair. Also, do you have a recommendation for a protein- free PH balance moisturizing deep conditioner?

    1. Hello Sue,
      Kinky Curly Come Clean should remove oils and silicones, etc. from these products. It may also help remove conditioner residue.
      If you go to the top of the blog and click the tab "Product List By Category," the first list on that page has moisturizing conditioners and those which are protein-free are labeled (but always check the label on the product before buying). Those can be made into deep conditioners simply by leaving them on for more time (from 5 to 30 minutes) and applying heat. Or by adding a little oil to encourage more softness and conditioning. Most of these product will need to be in an appropriate pH range for hair in order to be formulated to keep the preservatives active. Preservatives have a limited pH range in which they are most effective. ~W

  5. Hi Wendy, how much does the order of the humidity resistant ingredient in the ingredients list matter in terms of a products effectiveness? If the humidity resistant ingredients appear toward the end or in the middle, does that necessarily mean the product as a whole won't be as good at combating humidity?

    1. Hello Megan,
      It totally depends on the ingredient. Some of these ingredients are active when they are present in fairly small amounts and will be listed near the end of the ingredient list. Others need to be present in higher concentrations.

      If you were comparing the *same ingredient in 2 different products* and you had reason to suspect there was less in one than the other, you might choose the one in which it seems higher. But that can be difficult to predict by looking at an ingredient list because we don't know how much (what %) of everything else is in there. A good compromise is to read reviews and see what people are saying about a product. Especially reviews which were written during the season which you want the product for. For example, pay attention to the reviews written during summer when it's more humid. Or if a reviewer says they're from Southern Florida, St. Louis or Louisiana - they really know humidity.

  6. Love the explanations you provide!
    Thank you so very much for all the wonderful information. It's nice to understand how and why different hair can & will behave.
    I'm looking for a SUPER strong holding gel...preferably without glycerin...the humidity now is draining the moisture out of my hair...I use top quality conditioners and try to avoid sulfates and silicones.
    Thank you