Although flyaway hair looks like a beauty problem at first glance, it's actually a simple science problem -- friction and ionization cause static electricity, which leads to wild individual strands sticking our from your head. Dry, dull or damaged hair has a rougher surface, so it generates more friction and heightens the problem. Likewise, these problems make hair more susceptible to the close cousin of the flyaway: frizz. To fight both of these pesky issues, shampoos that smooth and shield the hair serve as your best bet.
What to Look For
To find the most effective flyaway-fighting shampoos, look for key words on shampoo labels, such as “anti-frizz,” “anti-humidity,” "hydrating," or “repairing.” The ingredients list also provides plenty of insight. Keep an eye out for OFPMA, octafluoropentyl methacrylate, a molecule that creates a thin shield around each hair, warding off humidity and flyaway strands. Moisturizing shampoos and those with Argan oil can also help ease flyaways, especially on over-processed hair.
Shampoo Sans SLS
Many shampoos rely on sodium laureth sulfate an active agent to clean and lather. While other ingredients typically offset these properties, SLS alone acts as a somewhat harsh detergent -- this property makes it effective at removing sebum and buildup, which makes it a popular shampoo ingredient. However, sebum naturally coats the hair and prevents it from drying out; dry hair, of course, leads to flyaways. While the presence of SLS doesn't automatically cause flyaways, sulfate-free shampoos can help alleviate this problem -- especially for people with thicker hair -- by helping your hair maintain its natural oils.
After You Shampoo
In addition to shampooing, conditioning is absolutely vital if you have flyaway problems. After you shampoo, apply a silicone-based wash-out conditioner or a leave-in conditioner. This helps repair cuticle damage and coat rough hair fibers with a smooth finish, making them less prone to static. Use a clarifying shampoo about once or twice a month to help normalize your hair after using specialized shampoos and flyaway-control products.
Continue the fight against flyaways long after your step out of the shower. Use a natural hair brush rather than rougher synthetic bristles and avoid brushing right after you come in from cold weather -- both practices help cut back on static. For a quick flyaway fix, rub a dab of pomade, hair wax or skin lotion between your palms and gently smooth out stray strands. If you're on the go, you can also apply touch-up flyaway tamer, which comes in a small bottle with a mascara-like brush, to smooth out wild strands or hairline frizz. For a big-picture solution, go with a long, evenly cut hair style rather than a graduated look, as the former makes for heavier, more stable hair.
Dan combines his decade-long experience as a freelance writer and small business owner with hands-on experience in fashion, mixology, media production and more. Previously, he's published with Chron.com, Charlotte's Book, LIVESTRONG, Civilized Life, Hunker, Fortune, Salon.com, Out East Rose, Samsung, USA Today and others.