You put in the work to style your hair to perfection — whether it’s a sleek high pony, flowing waves, or voluminous curls — but there’s one thing distracting from the finished look: random strays sticking out in all different directions, forming a sort of static halo around your head. And that’s why it’s important to know how to smooth flyaways.
These runaway hairs can pop up for a number of reasons. According to hairstylist Sunnie Brook, the two main causes are damage and dryness. “When the hair is dry, brittle, and damaged, it’s prone to breakage, which often results in those pesky flyaways,” she tells Bustle. If your strands are thinning, you’re also more likely to experience these erratic hairs, adds Brooks. “Think of all the tiny baby hairs around your hairline caused by damage, hair loss, or breakage,” she notes.
Static electricity is another sneaky culprit, which is why you tend to get extra flyaways in the cold weather seasons. “Static can sometimes be caused by humidity, a change in the weather, or friction,” Brook explains.
That’s not to say you’re destined to walk around with tiny strands sticking out of your otherwise sleek hairdo. Here, top hairstylists share tips for how to smooth flyaways — and prevent them from cropping up in the first place.
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1. Keep Your Hair Hydrated
According to Brook, your first line of defense for flyaways is moisture. “Keep your hair moisturized and conditioned with leave-in conditioners and hair masks,” she tells Bustle. Hydrating shampoos and conditioners can also help.
Whatever hair care products you use, look for the same moisturizing ingredients you’d find in your skin care routine. “I love a hyaluronic acid serum that you can put in your hair,” says Mark Townsend, celebrity hairstylist. Glycerin and fatty acids are also helpful.
Also key? Wash your hair less often (because it dries your strands out), and, when you do wash, only massage shampoo into your scalp, not the ends of your hair. “Shampoo is really meant to clean your scalp,” says Townsend. “So many people pile all their hair on the top of their head to shampoo, but you’re actually massaging your ends too much.” Your ends are already open from the water, he explains, so the surfactants (aka cleaning agents) in a shampoo can make them more brittle or prone to splitting.
2. Avoid Heat Styling
Hate to break it to you, but heat styling isn’t your friend if you’re looking to avoid flyaways. “Avoid heat styling as much as possible,” Brook says. “As tempting as it can be to reach for your hot tools, giving your hair a break from that heat can help minimize breakage over time.”
If you’re looking to enhance your natural waves or curls, Brook recommends plopping your hair to enhance your texture. For that, all you need is a cloth or T-shirt.
3. Strategically Brush Flyaways
If you’ve diligently done your part in preventing flyaways and are still facing some stray strands sabotaging your sleek ‘do, Townsend has a brilliant hack that won’t wreck your finished style. “Grab a toothbrush-sized brush with natural or polyester bristles,” he tells Bustle. Plastic won’t work because the alcohol in hairspray (which you’ll be using) will melt it, he explains. “Spray hairspray directly onto it, then brush the flyaways down.” If you have curly or coily hair, however, Townsend says to avoid an alcohol-based hairspray and go with a lotion or gel that has hold so that you’re maintaining as much moisture as possible.
To tame strands around your hairline or on the nape of your neck, he recommends using a reusable mascara spoolie — spritzed with product — to brush with. The beauty of this technique? “It smooths flyaways without weighing your hair down or flattening it,” says Townsend. And voila: Everything’s in place.