It's officially winter, and there's a chance you're either already feeling the effects on your skin and your hair (or you will be soon). Don't stress, though: Bustle reached out to a number of pros, including Dr. Glynis Ablon, M.D., a Dove expert dermatologist, Sebastian professional top artist Angel Cardona, Nine Zero One stylist Sierra Kener, and hair artist Holly Dear of Dear Clarke Salon, to get all the winter hair care tips that'll keep your strands protected and healthy in the dreariest months of the year.
Thanks to the frigid temperatures, harsh winds, and dry air, all sorts of beauty dilemmas can wreak havoc on your hair. From brittle strands to out-of-control static, it seems as though beauty routines can't catch a break when the temperatures drop. If you've been asking yourself, "Why is my hair so dry?" or "Why am I experiencing so much breakage?" and are in serious need of some winter hair care tips, experts have got you covered.
For everything you need to know — including how the winter affects your scalp and how to moisturize hair — here's your 4-1-1 on keeping those strands in tip-top shape until spring.
1. Winter Makes Your Hair More Prone To Dryness
If your hair feels drier or like it has more static this time of year, that's because the season really affects its health — you're not imagining it. "The idea in cold weather is that it actually affects the hair shaft, the actual cuticle," says Ablon. "It actually lifts up. That's why people feel that the hair is drier and more frizzy."
Dear explains that the hair changes aren't just limited to the cold temperatures outside. "Lack of humidity, heaters, dry cold air, and all the things that winter weather brings creates dehydration to your hair and scalp," she tells Bustle. "These things can raise your pH balance and dehydrate your hair, causing it to be dry and brittle." You know how your strands are more prone to static this time of year? She notes that this is all due to dehydration, which is more common in the winter.
2. How To Moisturize Hair & Combat Brittleness
One of the best things you can do for your hair in the wintertime is to load up on the moisture, according to Ablon and Dear. It's important to coat your strands with product in order to protect it from the weather, which helps to seal in moisture and prevent frizz, breakage and static, says Ablon. "You want to use a really good conditioner," she adds. "You don't need to condition at the root more — really just the strands, the hair shafts themselves, again to protect the hair."
Dear suggests using a regimen of moisturizing hair care essentials this time of year, pointing to "products that bring scalp care and intense hydration." That includes: a balancing and hydrating shampoo, a hydrating conditioner, a hydrating hair mask, and a moisturizing balm or oil.
Kener also says to pay attention to the hairline. "I love [using] an oil, especially around the hairline hairs," she tells Bustle. "I tell my clients those are so fragile as they’re coming off of your peach fuzz from your face, so they are the most likely to break once dry." Her tip? Moisturize your hair like you do with your skin.
3. Avoid These Sneaky Culprits For Hair Dryness
Some common hair care habits can be sneaky culprits behind damage, namely: heat styling. "The idea is that you want to do whatever you can to avoid the stressors: blow drying your hair everyday, using the chemicals [in hair care products], and using flatirons," says Ablon. Cardona echoes this, telling Bustle that air drying is your best bet this time of year. "A blow dryer can dry out your scalp by slowing down oil production, and oils are necessary to naturally condition your hair," she says.
Dear adds that there are more unexpected ways to prevent damage than avoiding harsh chemicals and hot tools. "Stay hydrated with lots of water. Keep a humidifier in your room. Keep the heat off at night or at least keep it cooler so it doesn’t run as long and dehydrate your hair and skin," she says.
4. Prevent A Dry, Itchy Scalp
Kener says that the dry skin that's common in the winter months can also affect your hair. "The winter season will cause a dry scalp because your skin is also dry," she tells Bustle, adding that she gets a lot of clients this time of year with dandruff and flakes. "I always recommend getting a good tea tree oil and applying it to your scalp and combing out any dry flakes before getting in the shower," she says.
Another thing to consider? Your accessories. Cardona says winter hats can absorb moisture in the hair which can exacerbate dryness and itchiness. Instead, he recommends using earmuffs that won't make you lose even more.
5. Static Hair Is A Thing — But You Can Quash It
Static in the hair is incredibly common in the wintertime, but pros say there are ways to avoid it. "The idea is that the dry air actually attracts these positive electric charges and that's what's causing [frizz], and so it doesn't do it as much on wet hair," Ablon explains. "It truly does it on dry hair." If you're experiencing it, it's a sign you're dealing with dehydrated strands.
Ablon recommends using a good, moisturizing conditioner and a pomade to smooth the hair. "That usually prevents those electric charges from attracting that dry hair and causing static," she says.
Kener also says oils are a good way to fight back against this annoying frizz, since they infuse your strands with moisture. "I also recommend not heat styling," she says. If you are going to, though, Kener recommends using a blow dryer with negative ions to "help separate water molecules" so your hair dries faster with less damage (and less static).
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