While winter brings the holiday season – and plenty of opportunities for window shopping – we’re also facing snow, wind, and colder, drier temps. What’s a girl to do?
Whether you fear a dry, itchy scalp or frizzy hat head, we’ve got you covered with a ten-step plan to protect your hair all winter long:
1. Chill Out, Girl
A piping hot shower feels amazing after you’ve spent an hour outside shoveling your butt off, but raising the temp of your shower can wreak holy havoc on your hair.
“Not only are you washing your hair’s protective oils down the drain, but the heat throws your scalp’s pores into overdrive to keep up with oil production, which can damage the root and lead to additional shedding,” explains Dr. Ryan Welter at Prevention.
Your best bet? Turn the water temperature back a few notches, especially when you’re shampooing.
Super hot water can dry out your skin, too, and nobody likes ashy elbows. Invest in a good body lotion – and a stellar conditioner – once you start to feel a nip in the air this fall. And remember to stay cool.
2. Wait It Out
If you’re a ride-or-die shampoo girl who suds up more than a few times a week, it might be time to pump on the breaks.
Nothing works better on hair than your own natural oils, but frequent shampooing can rob your scalp of these precious conditioners.
“Instead of shampooing, try skipping the full wash and just rinse hair in the shower every other time. This will help rebalance the pH level [of your hair] and won’t deplete any existing moisture,” suggests stylist Sarah Rappolt at TeenVogue.
Does the thought of waiting days until your next shampoo gross you out? Try a dry shampoo to keep your locks squeaky clean between washes.
And if an itchy scalp makes waiting murder, switch to a dandruff shampoo or tea tree oil treatment to help kick the urge to scratch.
3. Cozy Up with Conditioner
This wouldn’t be a Hairfinity post if we didn’t tell you how important it is to treat your locks with a little TLC with the three Cs of winter hair care: condition, condition, condition.
“Using a deep conditioning treatment adds moisture back into hair, which helps it to become stronger, healthier, and shinier,” stylist Rita Hazan explained to InStyle, especially if your hair is color-treated.
Need a break in your budget? Leave your regular conditioner on for a few minutes while you sing a tune for an extra hydrating boost.
Alternatively, invest in a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask for a luxe treat once a week.
4. Learn to Love Oil
When it comes to beating back the dry scalp winter blues, a rich oil treatment for your scalp works wonders. It’s like a hair mask on speed.
“Natural oils help prevent dryness and add shine,” stylist Mara Roszak told Refinery29.
Slather a nutrient-rich oil like coconut, argan, or almond oil on your scalp before hopping in the shower. While you’re doing your thing, let the oil work its magic on a dry, itchy scalp and moisture-zapped strands. Five minutes later, voilà. A new, winter-proof head of hair.
“It’s actually a plus to have oily hair in the winter,” stylist Nunzio Saviano reminds Refinery29 readers. “Your natural oil is the best conditioning treatment.”
Shine, baby, shine.
5. Steam Up Your Mirrors
Scalding hot water in the shower isn’t exactly great for your skin or your scalp – but steam is great for both!
Ladies with natural hair, take note, says beauty reporter Cherise Luter.
“If natural hair could talk…it…would say how much it loves steam,” writes Luter at Bustle. “Curly hair eats steam for breakfast. So, treat your hair to a steam therapy every morning by ditching the shower cap.”
On days when you’re not shampooing your hair, spend a little extra time in the shower so your hair can receive all that extra moisture.
6. Hug Your Humidifier
Speaking of steam, consider putting a humidifier in your bedroom for the colder months. Not only will the extra moisture help relieve congestion and nix your snoring habit, but it’ll also work wonders for your skin and hair.
“A humidifier will help to keep more moisture in the air during those harsh winter months, which in turn will help keep our hair from drying out too fast,” explain the editors of Essence.
We know how easy it is for girls who’ve gone natural to lose moisture between conditioning treatments.
You’ll sleep that much easier with a humidifier – and wake up with healthier hair, too!
7. Break Out the Scissors
Stop dreading your appointment at the salon and start rejoicing when you hit that once-every-six-weeks benchmark, stylist Ron Lewis told Marie Claire.
Without regular trims, you’ll be looking at split-end city – and damaged hair spells major trouble.
“The longer split ends are allowed to remain, the worse they can become, gradually working their way up the hair shaft until damage becomes extreme,” warn the experts at L’Oreal Paris.
Once your hair splits, there’s really no way to fix it. Split end treatments are temporary fixes at best, so buck up and make an appointment, already – or turn your own pair of shears on the struggling strand, so it can get back on track.
8. Stop Static in Its Tracks
All winter long, we’re constantly pulling hats, scarves, sweaters, and giant puffer coats off and on, creating an extra crackle in the air.
“When temperatures dip, your hair picks up an electrical charge from the dry air, causing it to stand up,” trichologist Philip Kingsley told Cosmopolitan.
All this electricity can actually throw off the pH balance of your hair, not to mention making it extra dry and frizzy. Sounds like a recipe for a bad hair day in our book.
If you struggle with static, upgrade your old brush for one with carbon-fiber bristles, or switch to a silk pillowcase to calm down those ions and restore moisture.
9. Swap Synthetic Fibers for Natural Ones
If your grandma still knits you caps out of itchy wool, it might be time to finally write her a thank you note. (Who are we kidding? Call your grandmother. She knit you a hat.)
According to hairstylist Ted Gibson, a loose wool cap “is best to avoid flat, static-y hair.” (And we all know what static can do.)
Otherwise, look for hats “made from materials like cotton or cashmere [to] help avoid static cling,” suggests expert Kien Hoang at Huffington Post, since “ones made of synthetic materials will make it worse.”
Whatever hat you pick, make sure it’s cute enough to justify minor bouts of hat head.
10. Eat Your Vitamins
You know how we feel about treating dry, itchy hair from the inside out, so this tip should come as no surprise!
When it comes to a well-nourished head of hair, your diet makes all the difference, says nutritionist Jo Lewin.
Think protein, iron, and lots of vitamins A, C, and E for healthy strands – along with “good” fats like omega-3s for extra shine.
“At the grocery store, fill up a cart with foods full of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, olive oil, flax, sardines, and avocados,” writes Sophia Breene at Greatist.
Work that grocery cart, and you’ll have stronger, well-conditioned locks before it’s time to make a new set of resolutions.
Winter might be coming, but there’s no need to run for the hills. Plan ahead, give your locks a little extra loving, and dial back on heat styling and scalding showers to make your skin – and your tresses – hydrated and happy.
What’s your winter hair survival plan? Tell us about your moisturizing master plan in the comments below :