Humid air causes hydrogen bonds to form between water molecules and the proteins in your hair, triggering curls and frizz


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Humid air reasons hydrogen binding to form between the proteins in your hair, triggering curls and frizz. Image via Flickr user Simon Gotz


If you have actually long hair, you most likely don’t have to look up a weather report to get an idea of how much humidity’s in the air: You can simply seize a fistful that hair and also see exactly how it feels. Human being hair is very sensitive come humidity—so much that some hygrometers(devices that indicate humidity) usage a hair as the measure mechanism, because itchanges in length based upon the quantity of moisture in the air.

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Straight hair goes wavy. If you have actually curly hair, humidity turns it frizzy or also curlier. Taming the frizz has end up being a mega industry, with various hair smoothing serums promising to “transform” and also nourish hair “without weighing hair down.” yet just why walk humidity have this strange impact on human hair?


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Bundles that keratin protein (the middle layer of black color dots above) space susceptible to transforming shape top top a humid day. Photo from Gray’s Anatomy


Hair’s chemical structure, it transforms out, renders it unusually susceptible to transforms in the quantity of hydrogen present in the air, i m sorry is directly attached to humidity. Most of a hair’s mass is made up of bundles of lengthy keratin proteins, represented as the center layer of black color dotstightlypacked together in the cross-section in ~ right.

These keratin proteins deserve to be chemically bonded with each other in two various ways. Molecules on neighboring keratin strands can type a de defiders bond, in which two sulfur atoms are covalently external inspection together. This type of bond is permanent—it’s responsible for the hair’s strength—and isn’t influenced by the level of humidity in the air.

But the other kind of connection that can form between adjacent keratin proteins, a hydrogen bond, is much weaker and also temporary, through hydrogen bonds breaking and brand-new ones developing each time her hair it s okay wet and also dries again. (This is the reason why, if your hair dries in one shape, it often tends to remain in roughly that very same shape end time.)

Hydrogen bonds take place when molecules on neighboring keratin strands each kind a weak attraction v the very same water molecule, thereby indirectly bonding the 2 keratin proteins together. Since humid air has actually much higher numbers that water molecules 보다 dry air, a given strand that hair can form much greater numbers of hydrogen binding on a humid day. When countless such bonds room formed between the keratin protein in a strand the hair, it reasons the hair come fold ago on itself at the molecule level at a higher rate.

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On the macro level, this way that normally curly hair as a totality becomes curlier or frizzier due to humidity. Together an analogy, imagine the metal coil the a spring. If girlfriend straighten and dry your hair, it’ll be choose the metal spring, totally straightened out right into a rod. Yet if it’s a humid day, and your hair is vulnerable to curling, water molecules will steadily be absorbed and integrated into hydrogen bonds,inevitablypulling the metal rod earlier into acoiled shape.