Unless you’re living in paradise (in which case, we’re jealous), the arrival of winter probably means bad news for your hair. Between rain, snow, cold temps and dry air, strands across the country take a beating from December to March. The cause? According to Philip Kingsley hair experts, bouncing between cold outdoor temps and the warm, centrally heated indoors makes hair more dry, frizzy and vulnerable to damage. And without humidity or moisture in the air, your hair (understandably) gets more thirsty.
How to avoid winter-ravaged hair? Some say to moisturize; some say to protect; and others say damage is simply unavoidable. We sifted through research and scoured our most trusted sources to bring you the ultimate winter hair care survival guide — best executed over a cup of hot cocoa.
1. Cover your bases.
In the summer, you’d never leave the house without your SPF on (right?). It takes preparation to protect yourself from hot temps and sunnier months — and winter is the same way. Seems obvious, but wearing a beanie or a pretty scarf to protect your hair is the easiest way to prevent damage.
Prefer to avoid hat hair? We’re with you. Some women (this Huffington Post writer, in particular) wrap hair in a silk scarf and wear a hat on top to protect against rubbing, breakage and flattening. However you style it, insulating your hair from the elements can stop damage before it even starts.
2. Skip a wash (or two).
There’s lots of different advice floating around about hair washing (don’t miss our take). But here’s one tailored especially for winter: wash less. Washing makes strands extra dry, stripping moisture (and necessary oil) from the cuticle — eventually causing breakage. Stick to three times a week or less, if you can.
3. Condition more, brush less.
On the flip side of the “no washing” rule is its polar opposite: conditioning. Because of its moisture-adding abilities, conditioner is your best friend this winter — use a little extra during each wash to quell flyaways and broken ends. And if it’s not already part of your regular routine, now’s the time to incorporate regular deep conditioning treatments. Our founder, Britta, swears by the hair-sealing properties of natural oil treatments, and this guide from the always helpful Curly Nikki can help you find the right one for your hair type.
After washing, it’s also important to go easy on the brush strokes. Hair is more fragile when wet no matter the season, but when the winter months pack an even drier punch, we have to be even more careful. Use a wide-tooth comb to lightly detangle and avoid unnecessary handling.
4. Step away from the heat.
So we’ve established: hair is extra dry in the winter (thanks to a lack of humidity in the air and extra heat from your cozy apartment). Dryness means fragility, and heating tools are expert at causing extra breakage. So try foregoing your dryer (and your straightener or curling iron) this winter as often as you can to avoid causing extra damage on already-breakable hair. Instead, opt for a high-quality hair towel, wrap hair gently and grab a seat by the fire.
5. Don’t forget to trim.
Long braids, loose waves, cute hat — it’s a look we love, too. But with ends quickly getting split and frizzy during wintertime, keeping up with trims is more essential than ever. To prevent continual breakage, most experts recommend trimming every six to eight weeks if possible, so brave the elements and head to your favorite salon this winter. Your locks will thank you come spring.