Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably have heard of the latest miracle cure for taming flyaways and frizzy hair: dryer sheets. For once, it's not an expensive product; most people will already have it around their homes. And it works instantly, giving you frizz-free hair in seconds. But how do fabric sheets tame flyaways, and is it safe to use them on your hair? We got all the details, so you don't have to look further.
Static is a build-up of negatively charged electric particles, electrons, in your hair or any other surface. Your hair acquires electrons when you rub it with a towel, brush it, blow dry it with the wrong hairdryer, or even when it's exposed to low humidity. This is why you get lots of static in winter, especially if you use scarves or hats that increase static through friction. If you use plastic combs or brushes, you will also increase the static in your hair, much like when you rub a balloon against your hair to build up a negative charge.
When your hair strands are negatively charged, they repel each other. This leads to frizz, flyaways, and hair that sticks out instead of smoothly flowing down.
Dryer sheets or fabric sheets are made of porous paper coated with fabric conditioners, perfume, and other substances that work to give clothes a positively charged, cationic surface. This cancels the naturally occurring static generated when your clothes rub against each other in a heated environment, such as your tumble dryer.
The mechanics are pretty much the same in terms of how fabric sheets tame flyaways. The positive charges in the dryer sheet cancel the negative charges on the hair's surface and instantly remove static and flyaways even in the dryest environment. They also have a coating of softeners and fragrances that will transfer to the hair, weighing it down.
Visually, dryer sheets will make hair less frizzy if your frizz is caused by static. For example, if you dry brush naturally curly or wavy hair, you will get a lot of frizz and static. The dryer sheet will help with the static, but it won't eliminate the frizz.
To remove frizz permanently, you will need to take a more strategic point of view and overhaul your washing and styling routine to give your hair its best chance of being smooth and frizz-free.
If your hair is dry, which happens to almost anybody who bleaches their hair, it's much more likely to become frizzy and full of flyaways. Using a hydrating shampoo and conditioner will help your hair be less static-prone and frizzy in the long run.
Damaged hair has cuticles that don't close fully, which means a rougher texture and loss of natural hair moisture. As part of your routine to repair damaged hair, you should include deep conditioning masks and protein treatments to keep your hair from becoming frizzy as soon as it dries.
The right leave-in serum or conditioner can work miracles to eliminate static and frizzy hair. If you know you will be in an environment full of electron-charged hair, such as an air-conditioned office, you should take advantage of this. A leave-in serum to smooth down frizz and flyaways will keep your hair from losing moisture, help your strands lay down smoothly against each other, and prevent static build-up on hair.
If your hair is prone to frizz and static, it pays to invest in natural and metal brushes instead of plastic, as that will go a long way to stop your hair from becoming negatively charged. You can also use an ionic blow-dryer, which has the opposite effect as static and neutralizes excess electrons on your hair. Thirdly, if you heat style your hair, always apply a heat protectant to prevent damage and reduce frizz, and choose the right tools for the job, such as a hair straightener for frizzy hair.
Dryer sheets are a temporary fix that won't fix static long term. Static is due to environmental and mechanical reasons and will happen whenever you encounter the right conditions. But as a quick fix, they are swift and efficient!
Dryer sheets remove frizz and static immediately, so if you are in a pinch and need to look put together, they are great. They will stop your hair from sticking out and are really efficient at removing flyaways and fixing your hairstyle in moments. And they are convenient on the go because, unlike a serum bottle, they will not spill in your purse if they open accidentally.
They are not a miracle cure for frizzy hair, but they are an excellent situational band-aid. And if your hair smells funny after a day or two of not washing it, the perfume on dryer sheets can help mask that. However, you may not want your hair to smell of freshly washed laundry too strongly!
As you read how do fabric sheets tame flyaways, you may have noticed a theme: they are not permanently fixing your hair or addressing the reasons why you get flyaways; they just fix it on the spot. So if you keep digging in your bag for a fabric sheet, you may want to look at why your hair gets frizzy all the time instead.
Let's also not forget that dryer sheets are designed for fabric and haven't been tested for cosmetic use. They are soaked in softeners and contain chemicals and fragrances that are safe for clothes but not necessarily to rub against your hair regularly. Using them too often can cause a waxy buildup that will weigh down your hair, particularly if you only co-wash or don't clarify your hair often.
Fabric sheets are safe to use on clothes, and any residue they leave is tested to be skin safe as they aren't rinsed off the clothes. Still, some people get allergies, and the fragrances and volatile compounds can give you a headache if you rub the sheets too close to your face.
There are a few things you can do to ensure using fabric sheets to tame flyaways doesn't compromise your health or the health of your hair.
The chemicals in fabric sheets aren't designed to be rubbed on the skin, so the conditioners and perfumes can cause skin irritation. The best way to avoid that is to not rub them against your scalp or forehead. Use them gently on your flyaways to control them.
Most dryer sheets will have perfumes and volatile compounds that can be flammable, so if you intend to heat style your hair, stay safe and don't use fabric sheets to tame flyaways. A heat-protecting serum with an anti-frizz formula is much more suitable and will give you a better result.
Fabric sheets have enough perfume to scent your entire laundry load, which can be too much if you use them on your hair. Unless you want to smell strongly of laundry softener, try to choose dryer sheets that are marketed for sensitive skin or not fragranced.
Fabric sheets are a cheap and practical way to tame flyaways, but should they be part of your routine? Ideally not. It would be best if you only used them as a quick fix or for emergencies where more suitable products are unavailable. They are not designed for hair, and long-term use can cause your hair to look worse than a bit frizzy.
Since you want fabric sheets to tame flyaways, you don't need the stronger and most fragranced ones. Those designed for small dryers with little to no fragrance will leave less build-up on your hair. Look for fabric sheets marketed for sensitive skin, baby clothes, and the like. Those are less likely to cause an allergic reaction when used to tame frizz in your hair.
Or even better, get dedicated fabric sheets to tame flyaways designed for use on hair and not clothes.
Yes, they exist! There are cosmetic products that look like a flyaway smoothing fabric sheet. They are as practical as the laundry equivalent, but they are designed to condition smooth hair and not cause any skin reaction. If you use the fabric sheet trick on flyaways too often, it may be time to consider purchasing the hair care equivalent instead.
Fabric sheets tame flyaways immediately, so you will see if it's working right away. After you brush your hair or enter an arid environment, carefully rub the sheet without putting too much pressure against any hairs popping out due to static. You want to avoid weighing your hair down, so try not to rub too forcefully and avoid touching your scalp and skin.
And voila! Your flyaways should now be gone, and your hair will stop following your hands and sticking around to anything that comes close.
Since fabric sheets aren't designed for hair, you may find they don't play nice with other styling products. Besides conflicting scents, you may find the hair texture becomes heavier, and your products don't apply as nicely. And they are not suitable to use if you heat style your hair afterwards due to the volatile compounds and perfumes that could be flammable.
Avoid any conflicts by only using dryer sheets as a finishing touch after your hair care routine, and only use them on dry hair. They won't soften or condition your hair at all, so they should only be used as a quick fix to tame flyaways.
Fabric sheets are an excellent trick to tame flyaways and are generally safe to use occasionally. However, your hair will be much better if you invest your time in a frizz-fighting routine instead of fighting flyaways using dryer sheets and other tricks. The right anti-frizz and hydrating cosmetics will give you better results and be kinder for your hair.
But if your environment causes your hair to frizz no matter what you do, anti-frizz hair sheets are a great option and can be used safely as often as you need them. So always keep a couple in your bag for those days when the air conditioner decides to break havoc with your carefully crafted style.