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Hair is huge on TikTok. The app is jam-packed with smart styling hacks (like heatless curls and the one-minute messy bun) and clever tutorials on how to cut your split ends at home or wear the trending claw clip. Ahead of summer, TikTok's beauty enthusiasts are obsessed with one thing in particular: how to prevent frizz.
This year, we've experienced some pretty humid weather, which prompted TikTokers to get creative with things like tumble dryer sheets (yes, really) as well as kitchen towel and hairspray. While I'm proof that they work to some extent, the frizz-fighting results were relatively short-lived. It seems people aren't ready to give up the household items yet, though, because dental floss is the new frizzy hair tool to try.
TikToker @mattloveshair was one of the first to make dental floss work for his frizzy hair. In a video which has garnered 2.9 million views and thousands of likes, Matt takes a piece of floss, holds it at each end and drags it over his hair, starting at his roots and ending at his mid-lengths. The outcome seems impressive but the video cuts off just before you can see any real results. But that hasn't stopped various TikTokers from trying it out — and it looks like there might be method to the madness.
For @sarahpalmyra and @solelysanjida, floss smoothed down their flyaways almost instantly, while @heimm_ tried the hack on type 4 hair with an impressive outcome. So how does it work? Some types of floss feature a light wax coating, which means the string is a lot less likely to snap. It's thought that when passed over hair, the waxy finish smooths down frizzy bits in one fell swoop. It's a bit like applying a hair wax or hair oil but smarter and quicker, according to TikTok.
With humid weather on our hands, I'm training my thick, wavy hair to air-dry so that I can eventually ditch the heated styling tools. Sure, it's a lot less faff but I end up with very frizzy roots and ends. It's not just me. On TikTok, the #frizzyhair hashtag has 238.8 million views as it seems we're flocking in droves to the app for advice. Add to that the current warm weather and frizz is quite a common hair gripe. Could floss be the quick fix many of us are searching for? I had to try it.
First, though, what actually makes hair frizzy? "Frizz can be caused by a number of things, from cold weather, wind and humidity to frequent colouring or age," says Tyler Moore, stylist at Live True London. But ultimately, frizz happens when your hair is too dry and lacks moisture, explains Jasmine Chahal, colour technician at Taylor Taylor London. "The outer layer of the hair takes in moisture from the air, causing the hair to swell and frizz."
I rifled through my bathroom cupboard and dug out the only floss I had to hand. Happily, it was the kind with the waxy coating. Before cutting off a piece, I measured the string against one side of my head to see how much I'd need and then got to it, tugging the floss down from my roots to mid-lengths quite slowly. I've got to admit that after the first swipe I was disappointed. The floss didn't render my frizzy bits as flat as I'd hoped it would so I went over the same section a handful of times, expecting the waxy coating to rub off on my strands.
Eventually, it did work to flatten my frizz but it took multiple passes and the finished result wasn't actually that impressive. After just a couple of minutes, my hair returned to its frizzy state. So I put it to the experts and unsurprisingly, using floss on your hair could do more harm than good.
"People are using floss to tame flyaways and smooth down frizzy hairs because the waxy coating can help stick the hair down and this helps the style to look smoother," explains Jasmine, "but this is very much just a TikTok trend." Tyler warns that floss isn't a substitute for proper haircare and shouldn't be used regularly. "It's a great hack to use in a pinch," he says, "but continued use could lead to some damage from the tension and pressure of the string during application. A build-up of wax can also compromise the health and feel of the hair."
Jasmine says the taut floss could also cause baby hairs and damaged strands to break, preventing those hairs from growing in the long run. It's not a long-term solution, either. "The stickiness of the wax on the floss might not have much hold to it," says Jasmine, "so it's more of a temporary measure than a permanent solution to frizz, and it's unlikely that it would make your flyaways stay in place all day."
So what does prevent frizz? "Using sulphate-free products is a good way of preventing frizz," says Jasmine, "as sulphates can strip the hair of the natural oils that keep it hydrated." Tyler recommends opting for a moisturising shampoo and R29 rates Aussie Miracle Moist for Dry & Frizzy Hair. "Washing your hair with very hot water can also cause damage," says Jasmine, while Tyler suggests limiting heat styling and using a heat protectant spray to help reduce damage that can cause frizz.
According to the pros, the more moisture you leave in your hair, the less likely it is to frizz up after washing or in temperamental weather. Instead of heavy oils, which simply coat the hair, you might like to switch to a moisturising hair cream. All of these products can be raked through damp hair for frizz protection but they work just as brilliantly as a finisher on dry strands. Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, massage a dollop between the palms of your hands and smooth over any frizzy sections. In humid weather, Tyler suggests using a moisture-barrier hairspray.
London hairdresser Adam Reed recently gave me a top tip for reducing frizz during the washing process. He recommended always giving lengths a blast with cold water at the very end to seal the hair's cuticle and to promote shine. In a similar vein, I've also spotted stylists treating hair to a cool shot after blow-drying.
Lastly, what you use to soak up excess moisture post-shower matters, too. Bath towels can be a little rough on the hair cuticle so you might like to invest in a microfibre towel or even use a cotton T-shirt to absorb water post-wash. Both of these tend to be that little bit kinder on dry strands which are prone to frizzing up.
The countless TikTok videos enlisting floss for frizzy hair may be an attractive quick fix. But that's all they are. Alongside using lube as a makeup primer and applying your foundation with a jade roller, it has to go on the list of questionable beauty hacks.