While winter might be a beloved season thanks to its snow and festive holidays, it’s one of the most dangerous times of year for your hair. The weather changes common in winter can harm even the healthiest locks in many ways, leading to a frizzy, damaged mess before spring.
Fortunately, winter hair damage doesn’t have to be inevitable. A few proactive measures, plus a few protective ones, can reduce the beating your hair takes during the winter months and leave you with shiny, healthy hair.
Although everyone’s hair will need a little different care, here are some general tips to keep in mind.
Kick frizziness to the curb
One of the most frustrating things winter weather does to hair is it zaps moisture, leaving dry, brittle and frizzy strands in its wake. Cold, winter air typically has a much lower humidity level, meaning there is less moisture present in the air. Inside, furnaces also produce dry air. This means that no matter where you go, your hair is faced with air that sucks the moisture right out.
Reintroducing moisture and locking it in is critical to keeping your strands silky and shiny. You’ll want to step up your moisturizing game in the winter in a few ways:
- Wash less often: Washing your hair too often can strip away the natural oils that coat and protect your strands. Paired with the dry winter air, over-washing can be disastrous for your hair, leaving it brittle and lifeless. Try to wash your hair less frequently throughout the week or use a gentler shampoo that doesn’t strip your strands.
- Deep condition: Pamper your hair once or twice a week using a heavier leave-in conditioner and/or a hair mask that helps rehydrate your hair. Letting these products soak into your strands helps them retain moisture more effectively to offset the dryness outside.
- Apply hair oils: If your locks are dry and frizzy while you style them each day, applying a little hair oil can help you seal the cuticle (the outermost layer of hair) and lock in moisture, making your hair look and feel healthier and shinier.
Stop breakage in its tracks
Even more hair damage awaits in the wintertime, however. A number of things can actually cause your strands to tangle, break and split, leading to uneven hair lengths, split ends and general unruliness.
Here are a few of the biggest offenders to watch out for:
- Dryness: Beyond frizziness and a lack of shine, letting your hair get too dry can actually lead to breakage. Brittle hair can easily snap mid-strand, leaving you with uneven layers or thin patches. Dryness can also cause split ends, making your hair less heathy and strong.
- Windy weather: Harsh winds whip through your hair, leaving it a tangled mess. If you have thick and curly hair, the danger is even higher, since your strands could become knotted. Trying to brush through your hair at the end of a windy day can break the strands.
- Wet hair: Hair is most vulnerable when it is wet, and this is even more true during winter. Rushing out into the cold winter air with a wet head of hair can damage individual strands. When the water in your hair freezes, it expands, damaging the cuticle in the process. This leaves the inner parts of your strands susceptible to damage.
- Winter hats: Your go-to style for winter might include a cute and cozy hat, but think carefully about the effects it might be having on your hair. Hats that are very tight and snug to the head can pull on your strands and damage them. Choose a looser-fitting one and take breaks from hats to minimize these problems.
Strengthen your scalp
Your strands are not the only thing to be concerned about this winter! Your scalp is also susceptible to side effects and damage from winter weather.
Excessive dryness can cause your scalp to become itchy, flaky and irritated. Routine moisturizer treatments can help, but you should also make sure to avoid showering in very hot water and choosing your shampoo carefully to avoid stripping your scalp of its natural oils.
Hats can also introduce scalp problems if they’re too tight, dirty or worn too often. If you’re constantly trapping bacteria and sebum to your scalp while wearing a non-breathable hat, you could end up with clogged follicles and even infections. Wash your hats regularly and make sure they’re somewhat loose and breathable.
Winter can be harmful to your hair and scalp, but there are a lot of ways you can fight back against damage. Stay proactive about hair care this winter to enjoy healthy, shiny and strong hair all season long.