Winter is upon us, and whether you are relaxed, natural or transitioning, it is important to have a hair maintenance plan for the changing weather. Between the frosty air outside, and the vapor-sucking heaters inside, the lack of moisture is guaranteed to dry out our hair, and make it more prone to split ends, breakage, and shedding.
Also, with the use of hats, scarves, winter coats, and snuggly blankets, there are more materials than usual rubbing on the ends of our hair, making it more prone to damage.
Hair Maintenance Tips During Winter Months
There are a number of tips you can follow for optimum hair maintenance during the harsh months.
Washing and Conditioning Regimen
Shampoos provide an in-depth cleaning and strip the hair of moisture, as well as dirt. For this reason, many naturals rely more on conditioner washing (co-washing) in the colder months. Conditioners contain enough detergents to give hair a thorough cleaning, and co-washing helps the hair retain moisture while being cleansed.
This prevents the drying, itchiness, and irritation of the strands and scalp that may come with shampooing.
Along with co-washing, an increase in deep conditioning and/or hot oil treatments is recommended. With all the moisture being taken from the hair throughout the winter, it is necessary to replenish it, making the hair as soft, and pliable as possible. These treatments help repair any damage throughout the season, and also strengthen the individual strands as they permeate the cuticle.
After you wash and apply your leave-in conditioner, remember to seal it in with an oil, or butter. Many naturals prefer to use thicker oil or butter in the winter, like castor oil, or shea butter. The sealing process serves to seal in that moisture you applied, and also to protect your ends from outside complexities.
As we discussed, protective styles are appropriate during any season for length retention and overall hair care. They are especially beneficial during the winter months because our ends are protected from the dangers of harsh fabrics and the elements.
The winter is a great time to try protective styles that can last for at least a month. There are a lot of styling options with braids or weaves that can last you through the season, and give you a chance to plan ahead for your new spring styles!
Humectants, for our purposes, are ingredients added to hair products which cause moisture to be preserved. In the warmer months, when the temperature is moderate, humectants are great because they attract the humidity from the air to your strands, constantly quenching the need of our moisture-thirsty hair.
In the winter time, when moisture is low and the air is extremely dry, the opposite may happen. Since the atmosphere is drier than our hair, the humectant may draw the moisture from our strands into the dry air. Some common humectants are glycerin, honey, propylene glycol, and panthenol.
Satin Lining for Proper Hair Maintenance
Hats, scarves, and coats are the worst offenders of damaging our ends and sucking moisture during the cold months. Many naturals have come up with the perfect solution with protecting their hair from the wool, and cotton offenders – they sew satin lining into their winter gear.
There are instructional videos on YouTube that show you exactly how to accomplish this, or you can also purchase items with the satin already sewn in. Either way, we don’t have to be cold to protect our ends, and we don’t have to destroy our hair to stay warm!
Following these tips will ensure your hair will make it through the winter stronger than ever! The more time and care we show our strands, the more we will reap the benefits.
photo by Aric McKeown