Even though it is going to be over 70 degrees outside today where I live, the calender does indeed say November and that means cold weather is definitely coming. It also means it's time for me to start preparing myself and my hair for the wicked winter of the Midwest. My hair has already survived its first winter on my hair journey so I feel I've learned a few things about getting to the other side of my least favorite season with my length retention in tact. And the most important thing I learned about caring for relaxed hair in winter is the word DRY. The cold air outside is DRY, the warm heat inside is DRY and being constantly surrounded by dryness will quickly suck all the moisture and life from relaxed hair if nothing is done to prevent it.
These are some useful tips I learned to prevent DRY hair during the least wonderful weather time of the year:
- Use cleansers and conditioners that offer moisture first and foremost especially thick and creamy deep conditioners that specialize in infusing moisture, increasing the frequency of deep conditioning treatments is also key (once a month is good, but 2 to 3 times per month is better).
- Use warm, not hot water when washing hair, hot water can actually make dry hair and skin much worse. Luke-warm water is tolerable and will not over dry your scalp by melting away needed natural oils.
- Be extra vigilant about avoiding products that can build up to reduce the need for clarifying shampoos, the strong sulfates needed to remove silicones exacerbate dryness and wash away that crucial natural scalp oil.
- Increase moisturizer maintenance, especially on older hair ends, with all-natural products that can actually penetrate hair strands and seal in moisture with a natural hair butter, which is heavier and more protective than oil. Natural oils can still be used to soothe a dry scalp, but as always, use sparingly.
- If there is ever a good time for low manipulation and or protective styling, winter is certainly it, cold winds "whipping hair back and forth" can reek havoc so rollersets, buns and up-do's are winter-time go-to styles. If nothing else at least wear a hat (preferably satin lined) when stepping outside to protect hair from the elements.
- Protect hair indoors as well by wearing a satin scarf around the house (I need to do better with this one), the dry heat produced from home heating systems can be just as damaging as cold outdoor wind. Using a humidifier to add moisture to indoor air is also helpful.
- Things to AVOID in winter include moisturizers that contain glycerin and other humectants since these ingredients work best in the warm moist air of summer, direct heat styling tools (flat irons, curling irons, blow dryers)--for the same reasons to avoid them at every other time of year, and skipping on protein treatments when needed--moisture is the best guard against winter dryness, but over moisturized hair can also be a problem so keep hair balanced and strong with protein as needed.