How to Wear a Wash-and-Go Without Catching a Cold in the Dead of Winter

Nykia Spradley
How to Wear a Wash-and-Go Without Catching a Cold in the Dead of Winter
Photo: Melodie Jeng / Contributor.

Seasonal changes are all about compromise. We swap out our skin care, haul the sweaters out of storage, and switch up our hairstyles—all in an effort to maintain our personal best while adapting to the elements.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to ditch your flat iron for carefree curls when the weather warms up, but what if heat styling just isn’t in your hair plan— any time of the year? When temps drop and leaving the house with wet hair just isn’t an option, here’s how to get away with your regular scheduled hairstyle.

Maximize Your Time Indoors

Wash-and-gos take patience. Technically, wash-and-gos are supposed to be fuss-free and generally require minimal effort — but how long it lasts depends greatly on how it dries. If you want to achieve curls that’ll last for at least a week or weeks, it’s best to get a jump on the wash process when you don’t have to head outside right away. Focus your efforts on infusing as much moisture into hair while it’s still wet. “I tell my clients to condition with intention,” says Jessica Fitzpatrick, DevaCurl educator and DevaChan certified curl specialist.

Fitzpatrick says that most curly girls struggle with getting their hair completely dry before stepping outside. While winter may hinder that go part a little more than in the summer, she recommends dedicating time in the evening to lock in the necessary moisture and style, while giving you sufficient time to dry.

So you’ll want to either start early in the day when you don’t have to head out, or give your curls time to dry overnight. Fitzpatrick suggests lightly diffusing the roots or getting yourself a hooded dryer. “I typically finish my morning routine under my hooded dryer, eat my breakfast, or meditate before stepping out into the wintry mix,” she says. Some of her clients even use the heat in their cars as a quick way to suck out extra dampness if they’re on the go.

Wash and Go-Natural Hair.

Matthew Sperzel/Getty Images.

Be Mindful of the Elements

There are a lot of obvious environmental factors that can mess with your style. Although it may not seem like it, there’s a lot less moisture in the air—both outside and indoors. This means that there is a lot less moisture for your hair to absorb in the atmosphere. “The hair is also exposed to more forced heat, whether in our car or in our homes. Extra moisture is crucial to your winter curl survival,” says Fitzpatrick.

As with winter skin, cold weather sucks the moisture out of hair as well. Plus, cold air and wet hair aren’t an ideal mix at all. The combo can actually cause significant breakage. Think about an icicle: Wet hair can actually freeze and snap right off in a similar manner. While you want as much moisture infused into strands as possible, you want to avoid going outside with damp hair.

You want to achieve hydrated, slippery strands in the shower to sustain that moisture balance as you wear the curls throughout the days ahead. “The way we massage the moisture into our hair is similar to how we massage lotion onto our skin, essentially until we feel the smoothness happen to the strand,” says Fitzpatrick. She recommends weekly deep conditioning treatments with  DevaCurl Melt into Moisture, followed up with a leave-in like DevaCurl Heaven in Hair Intense Moisture Treatment ($28) or DevaCurl One Condition Decadence ($22).

Accessorize Accordingly

No need to ditch your cozy accessories in the name of perfect curls. “The key is to have the curls mostly dry to not compromise the definition and have a hair pick on hand,” says Fitzpatrick. Try a satin-lined cap, a satin or silk scarf, or a hooded jacket. Cotton and other materials absorb moisture from your curls and risk frizz, friction, and static.

“If you must leave the house with your curls slightly damp, you can secure a scarf or a hooded jacket much looser on your head without compacting the curls too much,” she notes. Keep a pick on hand to fluff out your curls and resuscitate the volume after they’ve been covered up.

Street Style-Natural Hair

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images.

Swap in the Right Products

When choosing the perfect winter stylers, you should keep in mind the hair will need more hydration due to the lack of moisture in the air excess heat exposure. First off, turn the hot water down to lukewarm. Your strands and skin will thank you. Change out all shampoos for sulfate-free conditioning cleansers like the Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash ($32).

Then add a silicone-free conditioner to hydrate and soften the cuticle. Be sure to work in more silicone-free cream-based stylers to lock in more moisture. And don’t forget the weekly deep conditioner. Silicone-free hydrating gels like Ouidad’s Advanced Climate Control Heat and Humidity Gel ($26) can be used as needed. “I recommend reapplying diluted creams in between wash days to refresh the curl and replenish the moisture,” says Fitzpatrick.

Extend the Style

To preserve that wash-and-go for an extra day or three, try to create some updos by loosely securing your curls with a hair tie in various positions on your head to reduce consistently extra tension. Winter is also the perfect time to experiment with twist-outs and braids.