Static happens when two surfaces rub together and the electrons from one are transferred to the other. If that leads to a positive charge for both objects, the objects repel each other (thus the poof); if one is positive and one is negative, they attract (hence the oh-so-attractive static cling that attacks your clothes). Dryness exacerbates this rubbing, so if you can bring some moisture to the party that helps. One common suggestion is to switch to a hydrating shampoo, even if you typically wouldn't use one. Conditioning is also key to keeping things moist. And you can even hit the top of your head with a spray of water before putting on a hat.
This only works if you have thick, coarse hair that can withstand — and even benefit from — a little extra slickness and weight. Leave-in conditioners, hair oil and so on keep the hair weighted down and theoretically, at least, keep it from flying up. If you have hair that's at all fine or thin, or gets lifeless and flat in dry winter air, stay away from this fix. In that case, hairspray will help keep your strands in line — you can even spray it on your brush before styling if you fear crunchy hair.
Interrupting the exchange of electrons between surfaces will cut down on staticky hair — and you don't need to go back to science class to figure this out. A few surprising things can help. For example, a silicone shine serum will stop the charge that causes static, and so will exchanging rubber shoes (which keep accumulating charge as you move around) for leather-soled shoes.
You know that using dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener cuts down on static cling in your clothes, right? Well, using it on your hair — carefully — can have the same effect. Use a dilution of one part fabric softener to 30 parts water and spray it on your hair if you're really suffering static attacks; you can also take a dryer sheet and rub it lightly on your hair. And hey, it will smell fresh and clean!
Metal conducts electricity, and can help draw away the madly mixing electrons that are causing the problem. You can run a metal hanger over your hair (and under your clothes, too, if it's not just your hair that's suffering) to try to draw away the charge. Valerie Monroe, Oprah's beauty guru, also suggests wearing a metal thimble on your thumb; it's said to draw away the electricity before it can cause a shock.
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