Summer and natural hair go together like peas and carrots. Whether air drying after a beach swim, going full fro for a flea market stroll, or sleek curls at a rooftop party, the summer months are when your curls get a chance to shine. But, once the fall wind starts a blowin’ and the happy sun waves goodbye, thoughts turn to hot chocolate, chunky scarves, and, sadly, dealing with dry dull hair. But don’t freak out. Making a few simple tweaks to winterize your current natural hair regimen can be all you need to guard your curls until the sun comes out again.
Just like our skin needs an extra dose of moisture and protection on those blustery days, natural hair needs to keep hydrated during the winter months. So, the overall goal when winterizing is maintaining moisture, which maintains elasticity and stops breakage in its tracks. Moisture is also the key to avoiding those split ends and knots that make detangling hell on Earth and add to your breakage.
If you try these nine winterizing tips, you will see a lot less damage and maybe even some growth, which will come in handle when it is time to hit that flea market come April.
1. Pre-poo Oil Treatment
Coating your hair with a healthy oil (olive is my fave) prior to shampooing will protect your hair from drying out and serve as another conditioning treatment. If you want to get fancy, coat your hair, then sit under a heating cap or dryer for a few minutes for a deep condition. The oil will seep into your hair shaft, which is a good thing.
2. Double Up on the Conditioner
Most naturals already use a deep conditioner or a leave in treatment, but you may need to use both during the winter, especially those living up North. If you are afraid of buildup, my trick is deep conditioner first, then shampoo, then leave in. I get the benefits of a deep condish, my scalp is cleaned, and the leave in can do its work on clean hair.
3. Protective Styles
Winter is not the time for wearing your hair out daily. Of course you can once in a while, but your default should be a protective style until warm weather returns. Braids, twists, top knots, and bantu knots (see above) will keep your ends hidden away from cold winds and lessen the amount of styling you have to do on a daily basis. A bonus, you shave time off of your morning routine — snooze!
4. The Food You Eat Matters
You are what you eat and that goes for your hair too. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals is a sure way to keep your hair follicles happy and hair growth consistent. And since we are all about hydration, don’t forget to get your eight glasses a day.
5. Just Say No to the Shower Cap
If natural hair could talk, that would be really weird, but it also would say how much it loves steam. Curly hair eats steam for breakfast. So, treat your hair to a steam therapy every morning by ditching the shower cap. And don’t worry, it will dry by the time you leave for work. If not, use an old t-shirt to gently dab away the wetness.
WARNING: Do not wet your hair through. I will not be held responsible for the icicles hanging from your head at the subway stop.
6. Guard from Hat Damage
Hats can be a girls best friends, but knit caps are natural hair’s worst enemy. The cotton or wool caps will draw all that hard earned moisture out of hair and some even create tangles, which is a tragic. The key is a thin silk cap between your hair and the hat. Pick a cute hat option, or a silk head wrap, so you can wear it all day.
7. Seal Your Hair (Especially Ends)
At the end of any post wash styling session, make sure to coat your hair with a sealing product to lock in the moisture. The sealant creates a barrier between your hair and the elements, like a sweater for your strands. Since shea butter and coconut oil, two popular sealants, are solid in cold temps, try an oil that is liquid at room temp like olive oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil.
8. Let Your Fingers Do the Work
Give your comb a winter vacay and rely on your ten digits to detangle. Finger combing decreases the stress on your delicate tresses... and is just plain easier. As you run your fingers through your hair — wet hair only, no natural hair combing when dry — check for knots and tangles which can be pulled apart with the help of a little conditioner.
9. Get A Pre Fall Trim
Trimming is nothing to be afraid of and should be done periodically throughout the year, but a pre-cold-weather trim gets you off on the right foot. Trims aid in less knotting, easy detangling, and better styling results, so it will make your hard winters work that much easier.