Static Hair: Why Does Hair Fly and What Can You Do About It?

  • Why does hair get static?
  • What do hair care products have to do with flyaway hair?
  • 3 tips for quick help: What can you do against flyaway hair?

Do you know that too: you comb your hair or pull your sweater over your head and afterwards your hair stands on end? Why is that? And what can you do about it? If you want to know that, you've come to the right place. There is a physical effect behind the phenomenon of so-called flying hair: static charging. Don't worry if you don't really care about physics lessons anymore. We refresh your knowledge a bit.

What is static electricity?

If you first think of something immobile when you think of “static”, you are not wrong in principle. However, since static electricity is a physical phenomenon, "static" means something different here. In physics, the term "static" refers to the equilibrium created by forces. And that gets out of balance with the static charge. Static electricity is a kind of power imbalance. You've probably already figured out how this happens: For example, when you pull your sweater over your head, take off your hat or comb your hair. Static electricity is therefore created by contact or friction between two objects. Why is that? Now the mini physics lesson begins.

How does static electricity develop in hair?

In the equilibrium case (also called an electrically neutral state) there is an equal number of positive and negative charges in an atom. In this state, an atom feels really good. However, some inhabitants of the atom are busy: due to friction or contact, a negatively charged particle (electron) jumps from an atom of one object to an atom of the other object. When combing or removing a sweater, the hair exchanges electrons with the comb or sweater. Since you probably won't stop combing your hair (or taking off your sweater) after a millimeter, the electron should actually move back or jump back and forth. Here we are at the point without which the static charge would not work at all: conductivity.

Good insulators charge up

The conductivity of an object means how well electrons are conducted within the object. Now that may sound more complicated than it is. Basically, some materials are simply better conductors of electrons than others. Here, the electrons have a tail wind, so to speak, and can move forward easily. These materials are then called “good conductors”, for example metals. Now you will probably think to yourself that there must also be "bad leaders". You're right! In bad conductors, the electrons have a very strong headwind, so to speak. Accordingly, it is difficult for them to advance. Now "bad" conductor sounds a bit useless, but on the contrary: poor conductivity can be very useful, for example when insulating power lines. Thanks to the plastic coating, we can touch the device cable without coming into contact with the electricity and really destroying our hairstyle (and not only that). For example, without the insulation, it would be quite dangerous to unplug the hair dryer. When materials (e.g. cold glass or plastic) have low conductivity, they are called insulators. Insulators charge more. It's also logical, because they don't conduct the electrons well. If you now think about brushing or taking off your sweater, then you probably guess that hair or even plastic combs (or brushes) are good insulators. They consequently have poor conductivity. That means they grab available electrons and just keep them for themselves.

Excess charge in the hair

Maybe you already have an idea why your hair gets charged sometimes. When hair rendezvous with, for example, a plastic brush, they exchange electrons. Since both hair and plastic(brushes) are good insulators, the exchanged electrons don't flow back when the rendezvous is over. As a result, both the plastic brush and the hair have an excess charge, but not of the same kind. The plastic brush has too much negative charge. It then attracts each individual hair because hair and plastic brush are charged differently. Like two different sides of magnets sticking together. But your hair now all has an excess of positive charge. You may remember what happens when two sides of a magnet with the same charge meet: they repel each other. It is the same with the equally charged, individual hairs. And your hair stays in the air.

Long, short, curly, straight - does all hair fly the same way?

Static charging is caused by friction or contact and is basically possible with all hair types. However, people with fine hair can probably report it more often. Because fine hair is lighter than thicker hair, and as a result, unfortunately, it also flies easier than thicker hair. Most of the time, people with dry hair also have more problems with static electricity. As already described, dryness is detrimental to conductivity. Dry hair is less conductive than normal or greasy hair and therefore flies easier.

What can I do against flyaway hair?

Advertisements tell you that you need a conventional anti-frizz shampoo. This should not only help with frizz, but also with static electricity. Apparently a miracle weapon - but how does it work? Most of the time, these conventional anti-frizz shampoos simply contain more "nourishing" ingredients than other conventional shampoos. These are mainly substances that bind moisture and seal the cuticle of the hair. This allows the hair to hold more moisture while also making it heavier. As described above, both help against static charging. Silicones in shampoo can also cause hair to become less charged. Because they also wrap around each individual hair like a cloak and have a weighting effect. If you want to know more about the effect of silicones in conventional shampoos, read our article.

Tallow ensures natural conductivity

Ideally, however, your scalp and hair can handle static electricity on their own. You can control moisture and sebum (sebum) so your hair doesn't get charged as easily. Because moisture and fat counteract the static charge because they increase the conductivity of the hair. The electrons that are exchanged when they come into contact with other objects then flow back more easily. Incidentally, our Wildschön Clean shampoos are designed to support your scalp and hair in this process - without silicone, but with natural oils and by supporting your scalp in the natural regulation of sebum production. If you've been using a natural shampoo for a few weeks , your hair shouldn't charge up as easily as it did when you first started.

The top three tips against static hair

However, especially when the air is dry on cold winter days, your hair can still become charged. Since dry air is less conductive than humid air, hair becomes particularly easily charged. The lack of moisture in the air - and thus also on your hair - has an insulating effect. What to do if your hair is charging anyway? You may have guessed it already: increasing the conductivity of your hair. This is easier than you might think! Here are the top three tips:

  • If your hair is generally rather dry and could use a portion of care, then you can try two to three drops of oil. Be sure to use very little oil so you don't weigh your hair down. Spread the drops of oil on your palms and run them lightly over your hair – from the mids to the ends. Incidentally, our Wildschön organic hair oils are ideal for this.
  • If you don't want to weigh your hair down or you don't like oil, you can simply dampen your hands with a little water and then run them along your hair. Unless your hair has a very high charge, your palms barely need to touch the hair to do this. Then the hands, which are more conductive due to the water, are sufficient to get rid of the charge. You can also run a wet wipe/facial tissue over your hair instead of your moistened hands. Here, too, the wet wipe hardly needs to touch the hair to discharge the static charge.
  • With both wet hands and the wet wipe trick, it makes sense to drain the charge completely out of the body. You can do this by simply touching a conductive and grounded object, such as a radiator. Particularly conductive objects are made of metal, for example. And grounded here means “connected to earth”. This transfers the electrical charge to the ground and does not remain in the conductive object.

In summary: increase the conductivity of your hair

When your hair is floating around your head, there is an imbalance of power. This was caused by friction or contact with other objects. Electrons go on the move and stay in the brush, for example. As a result, it has too much negative charge and your hair, on the other hand, has too much positive charge. This imbalance causes the brush to pull your hair in and the individual hairs in turn repel each other. The result: you stand or fly in the air. And because hair and brush are both good insulators, the electrons don't just flow back. Ideally, your hair can reduce static by regulating moisture and sebum. But sometimes it needs a bit of support, for example when the air is very dry and the charge is poorly discharged accordingly. Then it helps to increase the conductivity of your hair. This can be done, for example, with damp hands, a damp cloth or with a few drops of Wildschön hair oil on your hands. If you run it along your hair and also touch a conductive, grounded object, you will quickly lose the charge. Because we only wish you hair that sticks out if you have goosebumps.

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