Hair care in winter: how to protect your hair during cold weather

By Sarah J. Helms / Updated on November 15, 2018
Woman wearing a big puffy jacket with a furry hood holding a piece of snow in her hands

Winter air, as well as indoor heating, can be extremely drying, so it’s important to help your hair get as much moisture as it can. We’ve compiled a handy guide to keeping your hair healthy and strong during the winter months.

Don’t have time reading the whole article: make sure you check the reference picture about hair care in winter at the end!

1) Don’t wash your hair too often

Unless you have extremely oily hair, try to cut back on washing your hair in the winter. If you can, shampoo/condition just a couple times per week. Over washing can really dry out your hair, and since you aren’t as likely to be sweating as much in the winter, you can go an extra day without shampoo.

Hats or hoods are key to healthy winter hair.

When you do use shampoo, look for a mild, gentle shampoo formulated without silicones or alcohol to keep as much moisture in your hair as possible. If you’re worried about greasiness, invest in a dry shampoo to prevent your hair from looking limp. If you must wash your hair every day, you could try just shampooing your scalp every day while shampooing the rest of your hair every other day.

If you regularly use a clarifying shampoo, you might want to use it less in the winter. If you have a lot of product buildup, maybe try and cut down on the number of products (especially those that include silicones) instead of using the clarifying shampoo more frequently.

2) Avoid using boiling hot water

Even the temperature of the water can affect your winter hair health.

When you do wash your hair, don’t use the hottest water you can stand. Keep temperatures at a reasonable level of lukewarm when you wash your hair. If you can stand it, do a cold rinse just before you jump out of the shower.

3) Don’t skimp on conditioner

Conditioner is crucial in winter.

If your hair allows it, use conditioner every time you wash your hair. This will keep your hair free of frizz and static electricity. If your hair is especially prone to dryness, try using conditioner before and after shampooing.

Note

If you have fine hair, conditioner may weigh your hair down, so only use a little, or stick to using it every other time you wash your hair.
Your hair will love any of these nourishing deep conditioners.

Dedicate one day a week to using a deep conditioning treatment. Look in your salon or at the drugstore for a conditioning hair mask or in-shower treatment.

4) Hats are your friend

Beanies and winter hats are win-win: they keep you warm and protect your hair.

Wear a hat, especially if it’s raining, snowing or hailing! Use your favorite beanie or fuzzy winter hat. If you want to avoid “hat hair”, tie your hair up in a silk scarf to prevent it from getting frizzy or generating too much static. You also might want to perfect a few protective updos to minimize your hair’s exposure to the cold when you’re not wearing a hat.

5) Use a heat protectant!

Never blow dry or straighten your hair without a heat protectant spray.

Most of us would rather not go outside in freezing temperatures with wet hair, so most people blow dry their hair in the winter. However, with added heat styling comes added damage.

If you use a straightener, curling iron, blow dryer, or all three, really make sure you use a heat protectant spray on your hair beforehand. Alternatively, you can try and cut down on heat styling in the winter to prevent damage.

You should never go outside with wet hair in the winter, as the cold air could cause extra damage to wet, fragile hair.

6) Avoid damaging dyes and treatments

Save your drastic hair changes for another season.

If you were planning on lightening or chemically straightening your hair this winter, you may want to reconsider. Save those damaging treatments for spring, fall, or summer when they’ll do less harm. If you are just depositing color without any lightening, you don’t have to worry, as this isn’t damaging.

7) Do an oil treatment

Use your favorite oil to quench thirsty hair.

If you have extremely dry hair, you may benefit from using a bit of oil at night. Comb through or spray on an oil of your choice (argan, jojoba, and vitamin E are common hair oils), letting the moisturizer soak in while you sleep. However, don’t overdo it on the oil, as you may have to use a harsh shampoo to get out the excess. If you have very fine straight or wavy hair, you may want to skip this step.

8) Minimize static electricity

Fabric softener is a great way to prevent static electricity.

One big source of static electricity is our clothes. To prevent this, add the right amount of fabric softener when you do your laundry. Clothes like turtlenecks and fuzzy sweaters may be cozy, but they are a recipe for static when mixed with hair. To fix this, rub a clean dryer sheet all over your outfit.

9) Keep your ends tidy

Don’t forget to trim your hair regularly.

Getting regular trims will improve the health of your hair. For many people, the ends of the hair tend to be drier and more brittle than the rest of the hair. This is especially true of those who have damaged or dyed hair. Save yourself the trouble and cut off those damaged ends.

Use thicker, more moisturizing products on your ends and show them some love. Additionally, tuck them away in fashionable updos, twists, and braids and remember to cover when outside to save them from the cold, dry air. Pamper those ends!

10) Be careful while brushing

A wide-tooth comb may be what you need to gently detangle during winter.

Since your hair is already fragile, it is prone to even more damage when you brush it. Be kinder and gentler than usual, and don’t brush too often. Many hair types benefit from using a wide-tooth comb for gentle brushing.

11) Pump some moisture into the air

If winters are really hard on your hair and skin, you might want to buy a humidifier.

Consider getting a humidifier: if you live in a place where winters are long and harsh and you find that due to excessive heating your hair and skin are feeling dry and brittle, you may want to consider buying a humidifier to bring some moisture into the air.

If you have curly or kinky hair – cover them at night!

Be sure to sleep with your hair protected, using a silk scarf, bonnet, or satin pillowcase. This will result in less breakage.

12) Consider a fashionable hair wrap

You can’t go wrong with a head wrap like this one.

You can go the extra mile to protect your hair by wrapping it up. Hair wraps are trendy and come in a million different colors or styles. It’s another fun accessory to play with that your hair will thank you for! For extra protection, wear a silk cap underneath cotton head wraps.

13) Use protective hairstyles

We love this protective style.

Now is the time to bust out those cute buns, twists, and braids. Just make sure none of your protective styles are too tight or cause a lot of tension, as this can hurt your hair in the long run. Alternatively, give your hair a break with extensions, weaves, or wigs. Be careful with your napes and temples, though, and consider wearing a silk cap underneath any wigs.

14) Moisturize your hair every day

Be on your moisture game this winter.

During winter, you won’t want to forget this step. No matter how tired or busy you are, don’t forget to moisturize your hair daily. Depending on your hair type, you may benefit from moisturizing in the morning and at night.

15) Steam your hair

You can steam your hair without having to buy a steamer.

Give your hair a treat and steam your hair once a week or more if you need it. You can use the steam from the shower, a handheld steamer, or even a hooded dryer and a couple of shower caps and towels.

16) Make sure you’re eating well

Eat your greens and your hair will thank you.

You might find that when you eat well, you notice that you have thicker and healthier hair and nails. Healthy fats from foods like fish, nuts, olive oil and avocados; zinc; and vitamin A are all great foods for your hair.

Let’s sum up: how to care for natural hair in the winter

Take a look at this picture: you can use it as a reference when you need a good advice on hair care during harsh weather.

A summary of winter hair care tips.


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