HYANNIS – When it comes to hair, Cape Codders have a secret weapon: humidity. The Cape’s moisture-full air makes fine hair noticeably fuller, according to local hair professionals.
“The humidity makes hair more voluminous. People say, ‘All of a sudden, I’m really looking good,’” Jim Bowen, master color artist at Artisan Salon in Falmouth, said.
Bowen and other hair stylists say it is all about the Cape’s ultra thick air mixed with salty breezes from the surrounding ocean. Throw in a dip in the salt water plus some sand for added texture and—Voila!—you have Cape Cod hair, in all its beach-y perfection.
“Visitors don’t know about it, but the locals sure do.” Jim Bowen, Artisan Salon, Falmouth
Turns out, many Cape Codders are well aware of this beauty secret.
“Visitors don’t know about it, but the locals sure do,” Bowen said.
Kate Scott, a curl expert whose business is Hair and Lifestyle Design, said the Cape’s special summer air gives fine hair a fullness and a little bit of texture. But as an expert in curly hair, most of her clients are fighting the effects of humidity.
She is a local expert on a system called Ouidad, named after the Lebanese woman who invented it, that is a special product line for those with curly hair.
Clients with looser waves like the humidity but for those with tighter curls: “They can’t stand it. It’s out of control and frizzy,” Scott said.
Dougie Freeman, owner of West End Salon & Spa in Provincetown, said the Cape’s unique weather has a definite effect on hair.
“The humidity on the Cape increases the chance for curl. People who never had curly hair find they do when they are on the Cape,” Freeman said.
Freeman pointed out that it’s not just the moisture-heavy air that serves as a beauty enhancement. It’s the salt water and the sand.
“People leave the salt water in their hair and that also gives thickness to fine hair,” Freeman said. He recommends people head to the beaches on the bay side of Dennis where the tide rolls out leaving miles of exposed sand as a place to go for a self-made exfoliant treatment, good for the skin and the hair.
“It’s one of those benefits to being on the Cape. Cape Cod air gives you an appetite. Prevailing winds change the air and water a couple times a day. My clients say their hair looks better on Cape Cod. It’s also the water here,” Freeman said.
Kathy Carette of Hair by Kathy at Viva La Vida Beauty Salon in East Falmouth agreed.
Cape Cod hair is “relaxed and beachy, very textured, very carefree. People don’t want to spend a lot of time on their hair but they want to look great,” she said.
Humidity, Carette said, is definitely a factor. “For us girls who have straight to wavy hair, we love it because it plumps up the hair. The humidity actually causes the hair to expand. We get a lot more volume than we do in the winter when the air is dry.”
Hairdressers throughout the region are happy to explain the science behind the phenomenon of good hair during the Cape Cod summer.
Bowen said, “Humid air causes hydrogen bonds to form and they react with water molecules and protein in the hair. It literally swells the hair. The hair becomes wavier and it swells so it has more volume.”
In fact, humidity’s affect on hair has long been a known quantity to scientists.
Bowen pointed out that in the old days, a single horsehair was used in barometers to gauge the density of the air. “That’s what they would use to tell the humidity,” he said.
“People who never had curly hair find they do when they are on the Cape.” Dougie Freeman, West End Salon & Spa, Provincetown
But as much as the humidity is a gift to those with fine hair, Bowen agreed with stylist Kate Scott about the downside. “For most people with thick curly hair, it is a negative,” he said.
Scott, who is the curly hair specialist at Salon 700 in Hyannis, also discused the science behind the phenomenon, stressing the importance of moisture to the inner part of the hair cuticle, the protein bonds and the chains of amino acids that make up hair.
What it comes down to, Scott said, is her client’s preference. Do they want to fight the humidity or go with the flow? That will affect what treatment and products she uses.
On a recent evening, her client, Christina Bologna of Harwich said she welcomes the summer humidity and its impact on her curly hair. “It behaves pretty well,” she said of her long locks.
In fact Bologna, that rare curly-haired lady who embraces the Cape’s humidity, said she likes everything about the Cape Cod summer’s influence on her look.
“There’s definitely something to be said about salty breezes. I love the look after a day at the beach when you’ve been in the water, the saltwater, sun and a little bit of sand. It’s my favorite. I love it. It creates a curl you can’t get anywhere else,” Bologna said.
“There’s definitely something to be said about salty breezes. . . . It creates a curl you can’t get anywhere else.” Christina Bologna of Harwich
Bowen said for people with thick hair who do battle with the Cape’s humid summer weather, there are methods called keratin treatments and Brazilian Blowout, which are hair smoothing treatments that lasts for the 12 to 14 weeks of summer.
But he said most of his clients have fine hair that improves with humidity.
“It’s a phenomena that begins in June and ends after Labor day, according to Bowen. “The temperature isn’t as critical as the amount of humidity in the air:”
Bowen said 75 to 80 percent of his clients appreciate the effects of the humidity on their hair.
For Kate Scott, the curly hair expert, it is the opposite: “20 percent like it; the others fighting it,” she said.
Scott pointed out that products have been devised that mimic the Cape’s natural affect on the hair, not just the moisture, but event the salty air.
“They make products called salt spray or beach spray to do what salt air will do. Salt creates texture and a little bit of a grit, not just gives it hold but makes it malleable. You can work with it. It almost acts like a styling product,” Scott said.
Though there are products that can mimic the look, Carette said, nothing can quite replace the real thing.
“That is all natural. It really brings the hair closer together so you get those nice beach-y waves that people like. That’s why so many people try to recreate that beach look that we have here on the Cape,” Carette said.
Scott, who lives in Chatham, said there is no secret about when the air on Cape Cod reaches that saturation point of moisture that results in Cape Cod hair.
“Whenever that fog rolls in,” she said.
Please like us on Facebook.
For more stories like this, please see Longform stories