How to Keep Your Hair Hydrated This Winter
Don’t let frigid temperatures cause breakage or frizz.
You don’t need us to tell you that the chilly winter weather tends to wreak havoc on your hair. As the temperatures dip, the majority of hair types battle static, dullness, and an overwhelming feeling of dryness. And once the dehydration descends on your strands, it can seem nearly impossible to replenish that necessary moisture. (Be honest—how many times have you slathered coconut oil on your hair and prayed for it to nix the fuzz?)
Luckily, not all is lost. This winter will be the one when you finally win the battle against brittle hair, we promise. We consulted two professionals about how to keep your hair hydrated this season. All we want for Christmas is silky strands—and it looks like we might just get it.
Why Our Hair Gets Dry in the Winter
You know that humidity that makes your curls extra voluminous in the summer? That good stuff plummets come fall and winter. “My patients experience dry hair in the winter as a result of the dry, cold air outside, compounded by the dry heat indoors,” says Dr. Whitney Bowe, a leading NYC-based dermatologist. “The low humidity, combined with extreme temperature changes, can be very drying to the hair shaft.”
Bowe also points to those long, hot showers that we all love to take in the winter as an unsuspecting culprit. “They can be very drying, as well,” she explains. “Prolonged exposure to water, especially hot water, can damage the skin and scalp barrier and even disrupt the balance of bacteria around the hair follicles.” Much like with the naturally occurring bacteria elsewhere in your body, when the bacteria on your scalp are out of balance, it can affect the quality of hair that grows out of the follicles.
Different hair types also experience dryness differently. “Chemically processed hair, as well as curly or wavy hair, will experience dryness due to environmental conditions,” says Zachary Aaron Heil, a L’Oréal Professional Artist. That’s because chemically processed hair already has a compromised shaft through which hydration seeps out. As for wavy and curly hair, the nature of their hair textures means that natural oils don’t reach the lower part of the hair shaft as easily.
Thin hair, on the other hand, can be more prone to breakage, according to Bowe. And when your hair is dehydrated, it’s more brittle, which means it’s more likely to break.
What You Can Do About It
The easiest way to avoid or cure brittle, dehydrated hair? Give your product stash a makeover. “During different times of the year, we should regularly be switching out our shampoo, conditioner, and masks, as well as our styling aids,” says Heil. “In the colder months, we want to lean more towards moisture, repair, oils, and serums.” Much like your skin, your hair can benefit from a reparative treatment during the night, which is why Heil loves L’Oréal Professional’s Inforcer Anti-Breakage Night Serum. “It adds moisture without weighing the hair down,” he says.
Bowe is also adamant about swapping out products in the winter—especially harsh cleansers that use surfactants to create a lather. “Surfactants, like sulfates, are actually overachievers when it comes to cleansing your hair, stripping the hair and scalp of healthy oils while irritating your scalp,” she says. “All of this leads to damaged, dull, dry hair.” She suggests subbing in a gentle cleanser, like the AQUIS Prime Rebalancing Hair Wash. “This system doesn’t have any of those harsh, drying detergents,” she says. “Instead, it’s extremely gentle and helps to balance your hair and scalp’s healthy pH.”
It’s also a good idea to avoid pulling your hair back when wet, says Bowe. “Hygral fatigue is a new, groundbreaking concept that has recently come to light,” she says. “The longer your hair is wet, the more the hair actually swells. And swollen, wet hair is especially prone to damage and breakage.”
And while it may seem that drying your hair is the key to avoiding that, you have to be smart about the type of tool you’re using—something with a wide, gentle air stream that dries hair quickly and has five heat settings so you can get just the right heat for your hair type and avoid overexposing your hair to unnecessary heat, like the T3 Cura Luxe Dryer.
Bowe also suggests supplementing with biotin, as a deficiency can show up as brittle hair or hair loss. “But talk to your doctor before using any supplement,” she says.
Dry, brittle hair doesn’t have to be a winter reality. Below, shop some of the products that can keep your strands tip-top this season no matter how frigid it feels outside.
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