During the winter months, cold outside weather combined with dry indoor heat can wreak havoc on your strands, leading to split ends and breakage. That’s right: Breakage isn’t just a summertime sadness. It happens in winter, and to all manner of hair types. In order to have a fabulous mane all year long, there are a few precautions you should take throughout the year.
Shampoo less often to help with itchy, flaky scalp.
Plaques of skin can smother the scalp, not only causing itch and flakes, but smothering growth as well. Shampoo a little less if you can.
Switch to an oil-based moisturizer to lock in extra moisture.
Blasts of dry air are not good for any type of hair. The only way to combat it: extra moisture. “Natural, curly, wavy, relaxed, and coiled hair is sensitive to cold weather, when it’s prone to brittle texture, breakage, and split ends,” explains Ron Williams, national educator for Phytospecific, who suggests using a heavier-than-usual oil-based moisturizer that will evaporate more slowly to protect textured hair.
Commit to weekly treatments to keep hair hydrated.
Dry air also means all hair textures should focus on weekly hair treatments to replace lost moisture. “Hair dries out in winter from not having enough moisture in the indoor air, which is when a good conditioner comes in handy,” advises James Corbett, owner of James Corbett Studio and global color consultant for Clairol. “Once a week, you should baby your hair: Slather conditioner on and take 30 minutes for the moisture to penetrate into the hair shaft.”
Use leave-in conditioner to combat static.
Floating, fine strands are a common occurrence during winter, which Corbett says is a key sign of dryness. Corbett advises that, instead of the static guard/dryer sheet route, be sure hair is hydrated with regular conditioning, then lock it in with a leave-in conditioner.
Forgo platinum haircolor for a darker dye this winter.
According to Corbett, this might be a good time to dial down blonde ambition. “Anytime you can switch off is good. Platinum is awesome, but it’s so incredibly damaging for the hair.” He advises leaving the roots a little darker and applying a demi-permanent hue until the weather is kinder. “That way, it washes out, and the process won’t be that detrimental when you’re ready to go back to platinum again.”
Cut down on your heat-heavy styling routine.
All that heat and dryness will result in split ends and breakage. Corbett advises avid use of heat protection, including leave-in conditioners, to prevent breakage. Also try protective styles, such as braids, buns, twists, and ponytails, which give hair time off from the heat routine.
But never go outside with damp hair to bypass breakage.
Although time is of the essence in the morning, it’s critical to dry hair thoroughly before dashing into the cold. “Anything that’s cold expands, and that’s what can happen with your wet hair shaft in the cold weather, which puts you at risk for breakage and makes your color fade faster,” cautions Corbett. Take the time. Your hair—and your salon bill—will thank you later.
Line your winter hat with silk or satin to stop split ends.
Warning: Wool, cotton, and other coarse fabrics can cause split ends and breakage, a tip even more important if you have curls or natural-textured hair. “Always line wool, acrylic, and/or cotton hats with silk or satin,” recommends Williams, who advises going DIY: Buy or use old fabric (like a vintage scarf or silk blouse) to measure and sew into any hat you already own.
Williams recommends curly and natural girls apply an oil-based hair moisturizer prior to hat placement, while Corbett suggests smooth-textured ladies utilize a silk scarf to prolong their blowout. “Place your blowout or style inside a silk scarf underneath your hat to protect your hair. When you arrive at your destination, remove the scarf and your blowout will be in-tact and protected.”
Use dry shampoo for volume if your hair has gone limp.
Those with oily hair might find their hair goes extraordinarily limp, particularly when it comes to the dreaded “hat head,” which can ruin your style and your whole day. “You’ll want to shampoo a little more, and condition a little less, especially at the root,” explains Reyman. “Use a good spray or thickening tonic to help build up the style and add volume. Dry shampoos are great for this: they keep the hair fuller and more robust, and expand the hair shaft.”
Hydrate hair overnight with an oil or serum.
Dry night air leeches moisture from your skin (hello, night cream!) as well as your hair. Ryan Cotton, hairstylist at Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon, is a proponent of night serums. “It can sometimes create a mess on your pillowcase, but I say designate an old pillowcase for ‘hydration night.’”
Williams advises girls with curls, relaxed, and textured strands hydrate nightly with a light oil high in omega fatty acids, along with an extra measure of added protection. “Always cover your hair with a sleep bonnet or silk scarf to avoid friction. It will also keep moisture levels intact.”