Masterclass: Humidity

As seasons change, so do our skin and hair. Whilst winter can see us battling dryness (harsh winds and icy cold air, we’re looking at you) summer brings all the highs and lows of heat and much-needed sunshine. Not all of us are blessed with coastal living, the majority have to deal with the trials and tribulations of humidity when the summer season rolls around.

Humidity is often seen as the enemy, melting our faces and frizzing our hair in one fail swoop. People spend huge amounts of time and money trying to recreate volume and ‘natural looking’ waves during the cooler months, but the minute humidity strikes we’re all manically working against it. On the same note, our makeup bags are packed with products to give us that ‘barely there’ glow, when nothing gives a luminous flush like sun, moisture and (a little) perspiration.

However, we understand that often sticky weather can get the better of our beauty routines, which is why we’re here to offer some foolproof help in managing our skin and hair during humidity.

To get technical, humid air contains high levels of hydrogen - a chemical element that hair is extremely sensitive to. Water is composed of one part oxygen and two parts hydrogen, and it’s the latter which makes straight hair go curly and curly hair go, well, curlier.

Image: POP
Image: POP

At Glasshouse, we believe that hair in good condition is the key to manageability. A quick google of humidity hair tips and you’ll be met with endless advice to apply heavy oils and serums - when really the key is in getting the base right and leaving your hair to its own accord as much as possible.

You might think hair that’s susceptible to humidity is in need of an extra dose of moisture, however it’s precisely the moisture in the air (and in your hair) that’s causing so much fluffiness in the first place.

“Moisture makes its way into the cuticles of porous hair, causing the kind of frizz and fluff we associate with humidity” says Glasshouse director Olivia.

We work a lot with protein in the salon, and it’s exactly this which is needed to fill porous hair, protecting it from excess moisture. Organic Colour Systems cleared up the science surrounding humid hair for us: “Ensuring the hair is properly balanced between Protein and Moisture will help guard against moisture absorption, as the hair will act ‘like a sponge’ and absorb moisture (and pollutants) from the atmosphere” they say.

The Power Build range is a bit of a miracle worker when it comes to this - packing protein back into the hair and strengthening condition at the same time.

“Treating the hair with Organic Colour Systems treatments will make sure that there are no ‘holes’ for the hair to take on moisture in this way. After this then the conditioners will keep the cuticle closed for longer, again protecting the internal hair structure.”

Image: Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Salon
Image: Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Salon

So what about styling? We’re big advocates of plastic and silicone free products - they don’t build up, weigh down or cause unwanted greasiness, three very important things in sticky weather. If you’re looking to get a hold on frizz without all the chemical nasties, Organic Colour Systems use a whole selection of humidity-fighting ingredients.

Ingredients in their conditioners such as jojoba seed oil, organic sunflower seed oil and Panthenol (naturally derived Vitamin B) help smooth the hair and stop frizziness. And their lightweight Aqua Boost Leave-in Conditioner and Status Quo Protect Leave-in Conditioner will both allow the cuticle to lie flat, acting as a shield against moisture.

“Many of our styling products contain Polyquaternium 72 which is naturally derived from plants and is an excellent styling agent” says Organic Colour Systems, “It will create a flexible film and provide anti-frizz benefits and a natural feel.”

If all else fails, there’s nothing more liberating than slicking it all back - a hair trend we’ve mused upon time and time again. What better time to embrace the wet look? We also hugely encourage admitting defeat and embracing your natural hair texture as much as possible during this weather. Any professional blow-dries will inevitably go flat, so getting used to your hair as nature intended is our ultimate top tip. You can even get the low down in our Masterclass guide to natural texture - learn to roll with it and humidity will be a doddle.

With hair feeling suitably tamed and tropical, it’s time to turn to skin. Humidity is actually healthy for your skin, but with pores feeling more open than ever and the air heavy with pollution, the last thing we want is a face weighed down with products that are more than likely to melt away the minute we hop on the tube.

Picking products that channel a glow-y damp look in the first place is a good way to work with the humid weather. RMS’ philosophy is actually centred around this - their products are coconut oil based and designed to still look great after a little slip and slide. Their “Un” Cover Up in particular feels completely weightless and won’t look visible and smudgy on the skin when the sweat hits.

Image: AL&K for Glasshouse Salon
Image: AL&K for Glasshouse Salon

If you’re looking for a base with less movement, Jane Iredale’s bestselling PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation is a semi-matte SPF formula acting as a foundation, concealer and powder all in one. It’s free from synthetic chemicals but also oil-free too - a perfect antidote to balmy weather and ideal for those with slightly more combination/oily skin.

Bear in mind that humidity requires SPF, so top your base with a sweep of Ilia or Jane Iredale’s sun protecting powders. These are also great for any oil blotting - an inevitable part of humidity.

If you want to keep your makeup slightly more in tact, then a primer should do the trick. Jane Iredale know whats up when it comes to prepping their skin, and offer a few solutions. Their cream-based Absence Oil Control Primer is ideal for oily skin types - the formula holds seven times its molecular weight in moisture, making it your new sticky-aired best friend. It really does keep things put, evening out skin tone at the same time.

Still just as effective, but with a little less extreme staying power, their Smooth Affair Primers are also a swear-by. With one for normal skin and one for oilier skin, this liquid formula prevents moisture loss, soothes skin and stops makeup from disappearing (literally) into hot air. Lifesaver.

The idea of putting on an extra layer of makeup in high temperatures might not be an appealing one, however both these products are light enough to not feel caked on. If you’ve got a big do in the evening or an important afternoon meeting and want your makeup to look morning-fresh, we can’t recommend a primer more.

Finally if the thought of humidity has you instantly thinking of panda eyes and smudged mascara, we feel you. RMS’ Eye Polishes are designed to move around and work with creasing in the skin, so any sweaty smudging still leaves them looking pretty natural. As we said before, adapting your look to work with the weather is perhaps the easiest way to succumb to humidity. If you’re not quite ready to give up your neat eyeliner wing though, Jane Iredale’s Liquid Eyeliner doesn’t budge (really, we’ve tried). With a long handle for control and a paraben, synthetic and latex free formula, it has all the natural benefits and high performance you need.

Image: Oyster
Image: Oyster

Humidity gets a bad rep - we get it. But there’s a lot to be said when it comes to embracing what the weather throws at us and the same goes for hair and skin. We’ll only be kicking ourselves in cold January when we’re dreaming of last summer’s frizzed up island hair, all created naturally courtesy of mother nature. Follow our tips, keep cool and don’t fight the frizz.

Words: Lucy Vincent
Cover Image: Harley Weir

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