Monday, December 5, 2011

Six Helpful Tips for Soft, Supple Winter Hair

Six Helpful Tips for Soft, Supple Winter Hair: By Omonike Anderson

The chilling temperatures of the winter season, mixed with increased exposure to central heating, can create a nightmare for nearly all hair types. For some, winter may not be as daunting. But for many, the colder months often leave the hair dry, dull, and sometimes even brittle. Without practicing proper hair care techniques, surviving the winter is nearly impossible. Here are six great tips that not only ensure your hair makes it through the winter months, but also ensure your hair looks fabulous while doing it!

Mohawk hats available at

1.Wear a Hat: This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many men and women forgo winter hats for the sake of style. Wearing a winter hat, not only keeps your body warm, but also protects your hair from the harsh elements of the winter air. Besides, funky and stylish hats, such as the Mohawk hat pictured below, are so “in” this season. Here’s a tip: wear a silk scarf or bonnet underneath your hat. Most winter hats are made of cotton and/or wool material, which tend to suck moisture from the hair. No one will ever know it’s there and your hair will surely thank you for taking precaution.

2.      Switch out Your Products: Your regular hair-thickening products may fail you when your strands are screaming for additional moisture during the wintery season. Instead, it’s a good idea to use shampoos, conditioners and creams that emphasize their “replenishing” capabilities. Replenish, simply means that the moisture lost during extreme temperatures will be restored back into the hair. Here’s a tip: if you typically use humectants like glycerin and honey during the warmer months, forgo these products during the winter. Humectants tend to have the opposite effect on your strands when faced with cold and dry air, sucking the moisture out of your hair and spilling it out into the atmosphere.  Use oils and/or creamy-based leave-ins instead.

3.      Increase Your DC Treatments:  Deep conditioning can be a drag, but its well worth the time invested during the colder months. Since your hair loses more moisture during the winter, it’s a good idea to deep condition your strands more frequently to replenish that lost moisture.  A deep conditioner can be a simple a mixture of your favorite oils, a protein treatment, or any store-bought product that promises to hydrate the hair—place a shower cap on your head and use your body heat to activate the treatment, or simply sit underneath a hooded dryer or hair steamer. Here’s a tip: Not every hair type is the same, so the general rule of thumb is to double whatever DC treatments you already have in place. Therefore, if you regularly DC once a month, try DCing twice a month during the winter. If you currently do not have a DC regimen, the winter is a great time to start!

4.      Rinse Your Hair with Cool Water: This may sound bizarre, but rinsing your hair with cool water after conditioning helps to close your cuticles and lock in moisture. Leaving your cuticles open—that is, rinsing with warm water—can be very drying to the hair once it is exposed to central heating. Here’s a tip: if the sound of rinsing with cool water seems rather daunting, invest in a bottle of aloe vera juice and add two tablespoons to your favorite leave-in conditioner.  Aloe vera juice, which should be kept refrigerated, is great for encouraging hair cuticles to close because of its acidic pH of 4.5—cuticles are considered closed between a pH of 4.5 and 6.5. And of course, never leave the house with wet or damp hair during cold months as this is a recipe for breakage—think icicles in your hair!

5.      Protective Styling: Some of you hate the idea of it, but protective styling is a surefire way to keep your hair safe from any extreme temperatures, be it hot or cold. Protective styling is simply any style that keeps your hair compact, tucked, and out of the way—common examples are buns, chignons, and braided updos. Not only does protective styling prevent your hair from being overly exposed to harsh winter and central heating elements, but it also prevents increased loss in moisture. Here’s a tip: if you choose braided extensions, wigs, or weaves as a protective style, ensure that you are still taking good care of your natural hair underneath them.  To do this, fill your spritzer bottle with water and 3 drops of tea tree oil and be sure to spritz your hair at least once every two days.  Tea tree oil is not only moisturizing, but also keeps your scalp cleaner for longer. Avoid using any additional products lest you accrue product buildup.

6.      Limit the Usage of Heat-styling Tools: Many people tend to straighten their hair more during the colder months since the style seems to last longer. The problem is that sometimes this heated styling process, mixed with winter elements, can be more damaging to the hair than when performed during warmer months. Heat sucks moisture out of the hair, add that to the central heating of your home or office and your hair may experience increased breakage if you aren’t careful. Here’s a tip: if you absolutely must straighten your hair, try not to do any “touch ups” with the flat iron during the week to reduce the amount of heat applied to your strands.  Even better, after blow-drying your hair, use large rollers to create bouncy curls and forgo the flat-ironing session altogether. Lastly, don’t forget to give your hair some extra TLC via deep conditioning treatments before and after wearing straight styles.

Of course everyone’s hair is different and what works for one person may not work for the next. The best thing to do is to be fearless in your experimentation and discover what works best for your hair during the winter. If you’ve already developed a sound winter regimen that works for you, please do share below!