7 Ways to Winter-Proof Your Hair

7 Ways to Winter-Proof Your Hair

Expert tips to protect your hair and keep it looking its best this season.

By: Leah Maxwell

Winter weather, and the changes in your lifestyle during the season, can leave your hair dry, damaged, and looking less than its best. If you’ve noticed your usual routines and products haven’t been working the way you expect them to, the weather might be to blame. And while there’s not much you can do to change that, the good news is we’ve asked the experts to share their best tips for winter-proof hair that will have you loving your locks in no time. Here’s their best advice for helping your hair not just survive but thrive this winter.

1. Don’t fight the cold with heat. Give your hair a break from heat styling whenever possible. Blow driers, straighteners, and styling irons only put more stress on your already winter-dry hair, so see if you can make do without them. “If you absolutely must use a hot tool to style your hair, make sure you use a heat protectant,” advises Gina Capano, cofounder of a style bar in Peabody, Massachusetts.

2. Shower smart. “Avoid the temptation of steaming-hot showers,” says Capano, who warns that hot water aggravates the scalp. Instead, she recommends trying a cold rinse to help keep your head flake free during winter.

3. It’s OK to get dirty. Washing your hair too often can strip it of healthy oils and leave it drier than before, meaning more static, flyaways, and breakage, plus more exposure to heat styling. Wash your hair less often in the winter and avoid clarifying shampoos, which can be harsh on fragile hair shafts. “By not shampooing every day, you are giving your hair a break,” says professional stylist Sherice Zammitt. “Instead, use dry shampoo, [which] protects your hair while giving you confidence that you won’t have that greasy look.”

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4. Add an extra layer of protection. “We tend to treat our hair as though it’s a lot less fragile or sensitive than our skin,” says Capano, “but hair should be treated with the same approach -- we should layer in protection.” One easy way to do that is to tuck a thin scarf into your bag so you always have a quick way to keep your hair from tangling on windy days; a scarf worn alone or under a hat can keep the ends from whipping themselves into knots. Dr. Peggy Fuller, with the Esthetics Center for Dermatology in Charlotte, North Carolina, says: “By all means, wear a hat to protect your tresses. Just make sure that your hat has a lining to avoid hair breakage from cotton and yarn, which can tangle and pull hair. A silk scarf helps me avoid knots and tangles in my natural hair.”

5. Beware of chemicals. Chemical styling products are tough on hair any time of year, so use them with caution. “Relaxers, chemical straighteners and curlers, and color can dry out the hair and render it brittle and limp,” says Dr. Dornechia Carter, a dermatologist on the medical staff of Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas. “It can also cause hair loss at the scalp level if damaging and frequent enough, and in some patients it causes permanent hair loss.”

6. Conditioner is your friend. Treating your hair regularly with a moisturizing conditioner can help combat the damage dry winter air does to your hair and scalp. Capano says conditioners “help restore balance and fight static by balancing the ion charge of your hair,” and she recommends additional deep conditioning treatments to not only supply your hair with the moisture it lacks but also boost overall shine and body.

Zammitt says look for a deep conditioner with even balances of protein and moisturizers and apply it to your hair for at least 20 minutes once a week.

7. Cut it off! If you feel like your hair just doesn’t look great in general, now might be the perfect time for the dramatic cut you’ve been wanting to try. A pixie or short bob can freshen up your look and trim down the routine needed to keep longer hair in line. While the weather is cold, don’t be afraid to go bold! (And hey, if it’s a disaster, you can always wear a hat until spring.)

How to do you protect your hair during the cold, dry, windy winter months?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Images ©iStock.com/szefei; ©iStock.com/Yuri_Arcurs ©iStock.com/alejandrophotography; ©iStock.com/PeopleImages

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