When I told my colleagues I’d be moving to Denver a few years back, our Editor-in-Chief spun around in her chair and told me that they’d miss me, but more importantly, how good my hair was about to become. I didn’t know what she meant until I got there and, my hair? Yeah, it got good. Meaning it did what I told it to and always looked just that much better. Coming off 27 years on the East Coast living in places that are classified as “extreme” when it comes to mugginess and humidity, it was a pleasant shock. For context, here are some examples of those bad-hair-climates I was used to, according to Weather Spark data:
1. Leonardtown, MD: Comfort levels in the summer months are “muggy, oppressive, or miserable at least 18 percent of the time” with humidity levels reaching close to 100 percent
2. Elon, NC: Humidity can get up to almost 100 percent in the summer, and comfort levels are “muggy, oppressive or miserable at least 20 percent of the time”
3. New York, NY: Humidity in the summer can reach up to 90 percent, leaving comfort levels feeling “muggy, oppressive or miserable at least 14 percent of the time”
Muggy. Oppressive. Miserable.
Cute!! Except not at all, because keeping my straight hair from looking like a poof ball was a constant challenge. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent as a teen in Leonardtown, straightening the life out of my straight hair (yes I said straight hair) trying to rid it of frizz and keep that singed, plank-straight look we were all going for circa 2005. Or how many times I’d do my hair for work, only to arrive at the office looking like I had just stepped out of the Eucalyptus steam room at Equinox. I always felt like my hair had a mind of its own, and my head was just a convenient place for it to sit while it did its thing.
Fast forward to life in the Mile High City. While the incredibly low humidity (maxing out at less than 20 percent) may have dried out my skin to a crunchy dead leaf texture, that was fine, because my hair was living its best, humidity-free life.
That dryness still doesn’t sound great, though. What’s actually the best climate for hair?
You’re right. Extreme dryness, just like extreme humidity, isn’t typically ideal. While it might have worked for me and my EIC, that level of dryness isn’t desirable for anyone who is already struggling with moisture retention, like people with curly hair.
To take it one step further, it’s not only important to look at humidity levels, but also the dew point. According to a 2021 study on the best cities for curly hair by Tajmeeli, a team of Arabic medical writers dedicated to providing educational information about the beauty industry, “dew point determines when condensation is happening or when dew is forming. Essentially, it shows us how low the temperature can get before the air is saturated with water. Lower dew points thus mean that temperatures must be very low before the atmosphere is filled with water. Similarly, the higher the dew point, the more water there is in the air.”
The more water in the air, the more your hair will swell and frizz. Too little water, and those locks will become brittle and dry. So, as it turns out, the best cities for hair are the most moderate ones in the country, climate wise, according to that same study.
The best U.S. cities for hair:
1. Anaheim, CA
2. Bakersfield, CA
3. Pasadena, CA
4. Long Beach, CA
5. San Jose, CA
6. Santa Anna, CA
7. Phoenix, AZ
8. Chandler, AZ
9. Burbank, CA
10. Surprise, AZ
While this data is specifically centered around curly hair, it’s a good gauge for all hair types since extreme climates will probably have a negative effect on your strands no matter what. And the cities above (which represent an ideal combo of being not too dry and not too humid) will likely yield everyone with hair better results. However, curly girls will always feel the effects of extreme weather the most, thanks to a variety of reasons (such as a more open cuticle that collects more moisture resulting in more frizz, and the fact that natural oils produced by the scalp can’t travel as easily down the hair shaft).
The best antidote to frizz and generally unruly hair? Keeping it hydrated and nourished. Shop our top picks below to live your best hair life, even if you’re not #blessed enough to live in Phoenix.
Oh, and Denver? It only ranked 68.
Shop hydrating products: Briogeo Curl Charisma Hydrating & Defining Mask ($38); Olaplex no. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner ($28); Living Proof Frizz Vanishing Oil ($30); Pattern Hydration Shampoo ($20); Melanin Haircare Signature Wash Day Bundle ($50)