10 Expert Tips for Surviving Winter Hair Woes

Aly Walansky
Photo: ImaxTree

Photo: ImaxTree

The cold, gusty days of winter are sure to leave us with dry skin, chapped lips, and a red nose, but our skin isn’t the only victim of chilly weather—our hair suffers a great deal, as well. Frizz, static, and dull, dry strands are just the beginning of our winter hair woes, but with these expert tips, we’re ready to prime our defense against the elements.

You may not even think of going in for a keratin treatment when the temperatures are so brisk—after all, isn’t the point of a keratin treatment to protect against your hair blowing up from humidity? Surprise: Smoothing treatments are great for the winter months as well, as that’s when the hair is in its driest state, says Meghan Gallagher, a stylist at Salon Facci. Follow up with a sulfate-free shampoo and a deep conditioning masque once a week to keep your locks frizz-free all year long (and through the New Year, too!).

Staticky Hair
Hands down, our favorite thing about wearing a winter hat is the inevitable static effect. It seems like there are products to address nearly every hair concern, but when it comes to static, you’re pretty much of your own. “Don’t overdo it with oils and serums, and please stay away from any lotion that was not made specifically for the hair,” Gallagher warns. That means you should skip using a hand lotion or body cream as a hair “hack” in a pinch—these products will weigh the hair down and give a greasy look, which will of course result in over-washing. Instead, try a mist of a light hairspray to keep staticky strands under control. Be careful to avoid any plastic combs and brushes as well, which will only make the static worse. If all else fails, you can fall back on the old dryer sheet trick, Gallagher says: “A simple swipe of a dryer sheet over the hair will instantly rid your hair of the static.”

Dull Color
Consider talking to your stylist about adding some balayage highlights into your hair during the winter months. The balayage technique is a great way to keep your hair looking naturally sun-kissed all year long, says Gallagher. Balayage can also be used to add not just highlights, but lowlights, too, which results in seamless and blended dimension. “I’ve seen this technique transform even the dullest head of hair into refreshed, younger, more beautiful hair!,” Gallagher says.

Take a Cold (Yes, Cold!) Shower
If you can stand it, that is. “I believe that we need to treat our hair like we would our most delicate piece of clothing. We wouldn’t wash our favorite shirt in hot water every day or use just any liquid soap to get it clean,” says Justin Anderson, a celebrity colorist and creative director of dpHUE. You should rinse your hair with cold water as frequently as possible … or as long as you can tolerate it. “Although this isn’t the most relaxing way to get hair clean, it really helps to maintain shine and keeps the cuticle from being blasted open. When you wash your hair with hot water, it opens the cuticle, dries the hair, and releases color from previously colored hair,” says Anderson.

Unrefined Shea Butter
Shea butter is one of the best natural moisturizers on earth, and it’ll help lock the moisture from your shower in your hair to seal in the moisture without leaving residue behind, says Eugene Suei, Founder of Skin Ritual. Shea butter is also great to be used to rub into your scalp to treat dandruff and dry scalp. We love a good multitasker.

Oil Therapy
Anderson is a big believer in adding oil back into hair. “I find it more beneficial than any expensive in-salon conditioning treatment. I recommend that all my clients do an at-home oil treatment a couple times a week,” he says. Coat your hair with your favorite oil, then put it into a braid and wear the oil while at the gym or doing errands on the weekend. The oil really penetrates the hair shaft and helps to strengthen hair over time. Chemical services, excessive shampooing, blow drying, and flat ironing all strip natural oils from the hair, and while conditioners just coat the outer cuticle of the hair, oils are actually soaked up by the strands.

Take Your Vitamins

Try taking biotin and B complex vitamins to promote the growth of thicker, fuller hair, Anderson suggest. What we put in our bodies definitely has an effect on the quality, thickness, and texture of our hair over time.

Make That Blowout Last

Use a dry shampoo to soak up excess oil in between washes and styling. Shampooing the hair every day strips the hair of its natural oils, and with the addition of hot styling tools, daily washing can wreak double trouble on your hair, says Anderson.

Get a Good Brush
The wrong brush can tear fragile hair and cause breakage—Nick Penna, Creative Director of Be Styled, says to opt for a natural boar bristle brush. They smooth hair without ripping and create amazing shine by distributing the hair’s natural oils evenly from root to tip.

Protect from the Heat
Heat styling tools dry your hair out and contribute to breakage, so fight the damage by using more conditioner in the shower. Always, always remember to spray a heat protectant before using your styling tools to keep your ends from frying, Penna says.

Read more: 7 Natural Remedies That Calm Irritated Winter Skin