8 Causes of Wet Frizz and How to Fix Them

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Have you ever found that your hair feels dry and frizzy straight after washing it? If so, you’ve probably experienced a condition known as wet frizz. 

Unlike regular frizz, wet frizz isn’t caused by humid environments and doesn’t give your hair the familiar voluminous appearance you probably associate with frizz. Wet frizz can cause your curly or coily hair to tangle and stick together, and it can even lead to breakage and shedding. 

In this blog post, we’ll explain some of the most frequent causes of wet frizz and help you work out how to get rid of this common curly hair problem.

wet frizz closeup
close up of some wet frizz I had before styling

What is Wet Frizz?

If you’ve got curly or coily tresses, you’re sure to want to achieve gorgeous clumps of curls, but sometimes your hair seems to have different ideas. Curly hair is more prone to frizz than straight locks, thanks to the bends and curves in each strand. 

You’re probably already familiar with the type of frizz caused by environmental factors like humidity. This gives your hair a voluminous appearance or makes individual strands stick out in different directions.

Wet frizz is different. 

This condition often develops after washing your hair and wringing out excess water. It can also happen when you’re applying styling products or air drying your mane.

Your wet hair quickly starts to feel dry and unmanageable, with an unpleasant stringy texture instead of the smooth, sleek mane and clean curl clumps you wanted.

The Main Causes of Wet Frizz and Their Solutions

While regular frizz is generally caused by humidity, there are several reasons why your hair might suffer from wet frizz. Let’s look at some of the leading causes:


Hair porosity describes how easily your hair can absorb and retain moisture. Low porosity hair has a tightly closed cuticle layer, so it struggles to absorb moisture. The scales on the cuticle layer of high porosity hair strands are raised, so they can absorb moisture easily but then lose it quickly. You can learn more about this in our Guide to Hair Porosity.

Both low and high porosity hair hair can struggle with wet frizz. The raised cuticle scales on high porosity hair act like Velcro so it tangles easily, while low porosity hair is often dehydrated and suffers from product buildup. 

When I had high porosity hair, I had wet frizz if my hair wasn’t wet enough while styling. Now my hair is low porosity, and I haven’t struggled with wet frizz at all. My hair has always struggled with being too moisturized so this makes sense.

The solution: Focus on moisturizing high porosity hair using the LCO method to layer on leave in conditioners, curl cream, and oil (and of course, a gel to hold your style and keep frizz at bay). Clarify low porosity hair to remove buildup and use heated caps or a hooded dryer to boost the effect of deep conditioner treatments.

pH Imbalance

Hair is naturally slightly acidic, and keeping its pH low is essential to protect the cuticle layer. Shampoos are alkaline to help break down oils and products, but this can affect the pH of your hair and make it more porous. This can lead to wet frizz.

The solution: Conditioners are designed to be more acidic, which reduces your hair’s pH and helps prevent wet frizz. They also smooth the cuticle and provide hair slip so your curls are easier to detangle. You can also try using an ACV rinse (Apple Cider Vinegar) to smooth your hair and tame frizz. 

However, low porosity hair can benefit from an alkaline shampoo, as it will slightly open the cuticle layer, making it easier for the strands to absorb moisture.

Lack of Moisture

Curly hair tends to be drier than straight hair because the shape of the hair shaft makes it difficult for the scalp’s natural oils to reach the ends. Dry, brittle hair is prone to frizz, and ingredients that cause dryness will make the problem worse.

The solution: Avoid shampoos that contain harsh drying ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate,  and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. 

Treat dry hair to plenty of moisture by applying conditioners, penetrating hair oils, and hair masks regularly. You can also use a heated cap or shower cap to help boost moisture absorption.

Wrong Protein/Moisture Balance

Although moisture is essential for good hair health, you can have too much of a good thing, especially if it’s not balanced with the right amount of protein.

If your hair is over-moisturized, it can develop a condition called hygral fatigue. This happens when your strands have too much moisture and not enough protein, making them feel limp and spongy. It can also lead to wet frizz. 

On the other hand, if your hair has too much protein compared to moisture, it can become brittle and frizzy. Protein overload can also result in breakage and shedding. 

The solution: First, use a good clarifying shampoo to break down any product buildup on your hair. You can then follow up with a deep conditioner and styling products. 

Opt for products that are heavy in proteins like hydrolyzed collagen or keratin if your hair needs more protein, but choose protein-free products if your hair is suffering from protein overload.

Mechanical or Chemical Damage

Damage from vigorous brushing, heat styling, or chemical processing like colors and perms can all lead to wet frizz. These raise the hair’s cuticle, making clump formation more difficult. 

Damaged hair is also more likely to break, and the shorter lengths make it harder for the hairs to group into clumps of defined curls. 

The solution: Avoid overuse of chemicals and heat styling. Regular detangling with a good detangler and your fingers or a wide tooth comb will help you avoid damage from brushing.

Product Buildup

Products that contain ingredients like silicones, heavy oils like coconut oil, and some polyquats can build up on your strands. This buildup makes it harder for the hair shaft to absorb moisture and can result in wet frizz.

The solution: Get rid of product buildup by using clarifying shampoos regularly, followed by a deep conditioner or hair mask to replace lost moisture and tame frizz.

Flash Drying

Flash drying describes when your hair seems to dry into a brittle, frizzy mass almost instantly after washing or after applying certain hair care products. This problem can be caused by several factors, including humectants, film-forming polymers, and alcohols like ethanol that are often found in hair gel or mousse. 

The solution: The best way to avoid flash drying is to identify which ingredient is causing the problem and avoid using products that contain it. You can also try applying a base layer of leave in conditioner or cream before applying styling products.

Uneven Product Application

You may also experience wet frizz if you apply styling products like gel or mousse unevenly or to slightly damp hair. This can cause product buildup in certain areas of your hair. 

The solution: After you’ve washed your hair, apply your styling products to very wet hair and comb through with a wide tooth comb or styling brush. This will ensure more even absorption and give your curls more definition. 

If you have low density hair, you might get better results from applying products to damp hair, but always comb the product through your tresses thoroughly.

I have low density hair and I like to apply my products, brush through, microplop, then glaze and scrunch in a tiny bit more of product to make sure I used enough.

How to Prevent Wet Frizz

If possible, it’s better to avoid wet frizz developing at all. Here are some simple tips you can take to keep the frizz away:

  • brush products through the hair to ensure even application.
  • Blot hair with a t-shirt towel instead of rubbing it dry to minimize friction and mechanical damage.
  • Hover diffuse on low heat.
  • Layer moisturizing and hold products to ensure adequate hydration and hold.
  • Sleeping on silk pillowcases or with a sleep bonnet will minimize friction and frizz so your hair stays smooth.
  • Try a pre-poo with oil before washing your hair.
no wet frizz
virtually no wet frizz when using the right techniques


Still unsure how to get rid of your wet frizz problem? The answers to these frequently asked questions will help:

Does Lack of Moisture Make My Hair Frizzy?

Poor hydration is one of the underlying causes of frizzy hair because dry hair is more brittle and prone to wet frizz. Curly and coily hair tends to be dry, so it can easily suffer from wet frizz. Moisturizing your hair with conditioner, curl cream, and hair masks will help ease the problem.

Does Wet Frizz Need Protein or Moisture?

Wet frizz can be caused by your hair having either too much protein or too much moisture. Once you know the underlying cause of your wet frizz, you can treat it with deep conditioning treatments, protein treatments, or protein-free products as required.

Does Sleeping With Wet Hair Cause Wet Frizz?

Going to sleep on wet hair is one of the risk factors for developing hygral fatigue. This condition makes the hair shaft swell, which causes damage to the cuticle layer that often leads to wet frizz.

Does Brushing Wet Hair Cause Frizzy Hair?

Brushing your hair too much or too hard can cause mechanical damage to the hair surface, disrupting your natural curl pattern and lifting the cuticle. This makes your hair more likely to tangle and develop wet frizz.

Is Frizzy Hair Low or High Porosity?

Both low and high porosity hair can experience wet frizz. Low porosity hair struggles with moisture absorption, so it is often dehydrated, which makes it vulnerable to wet frizz. Although highly porous hair can easily absorb moisture, the open cuticle layer on the hair’s surface also loses moisture quickly, leading to wet frizz.

The Bottom Line: Wet Frizz

Wet frizz is a common problem for curly hair, and it can make the difference between thin, stringy strands or luscious clumps of curls. There are many potential causes of wet frizz, so it’s essential to identify which problem you are facing.

Luckily, most of these problems are easy to deal with. Once you know the underlying causes of your wet frizz and apply the easy solutions in this blog post, you’ll find it easy to achieve those gorgeous curls again!

8 causes of wet frizz and their fixes text overlay on wet hair

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