The Most Common Winter Hair Problems and How to Combat Them
In most parts of the U.S., when the calendar flips to December, frigid outside air combined with uber-dry indoor heating can cause a slew of hair and scalp issues. Here, how to combat those common winter woes—without having to move to Miami.
Your Winter Woe: My hair is so dry
Your counterattack: When the outdoor climate is cold with low humidity, it’s pretty common to choose richer, more emollient skincare formulas. Well, the same should be true of your hair care regimen. All that dry air (cold outside, hot inside) literally leeches moisture from your strands, leaving them chronically parched. Your new goal: Replenish moisture wherever, whenever you can. This means upgrading to the most moisturizing shampoo and conditioner your hair type can tolerate (without making your locks lank); adding a moisturizing leave-in conditioner applied after your shampoo and conditioner, and committing to a bi-monthly treatment mask. At Prose, we take climate into consideration whenever we create a client’s customized regimen, so winter formulas are typically rich in deeply nourishing additives, such as honey and plum oil, jojoba and argan oils.
In addition to upping the ante on moisture, scaling back the frequency of shampooing will also help with chronic dryness, says Nina Dimachki, a stylist in Northville, Michigan. “Even the gentlest shampoo will remove some oils from your hair and scalp, so stretching time between washings is a smart, easy way in the wintertime to maintain optimal moisture levels,” she explains. So, how long should you go between washings? That is largely dependent on your hair type, says Dimachki, but finer, oilier types should try to stretch to at least every other day, while thick, dry and coarse hair may be able to go a week or longer. And when you do finally shampoo, try not to hang out in a steamy shower for too long. We know, we know—it feels good. But the hotter the water, the more oils it will strip from your strands, so try to be efficient in there. Bonus: Decreasing the frequency of your shampoos should also enable you to scale back somewhat on heat styling (e.g. blow-drying, flat ironing), thereby diminishing heat-related moisture loss as well.
Your Winter Woe: My scalp feels sensitive
Your counterattack: Just like the skin on the rest of your body, your scalp is susceptible to dryness during the winter. Unlike skin elsewhere, however, finding relief by slathering on a rich cream isn’t very practical. What you can do: Shampoo less often (as we advised above). Why? Allowing more natural oil to stay put on your scalp skin will keep the skin there better buffered from the cold winter air that causes moisture loss and irritation.
Using a scalp treatment once a week (or twice a week if your skin is very sore) is also an effective way to soothe and hydrate. Prose scalp mask formulas typically utilize a combination of provitamin B5, liquorice, and cannabidiol (a.k.a. CBD) which help to soothe and curb dryness-related flaking. Tip: To ensure you are making the most of your scalp mask, always shampoo after applying and, while you’re sudsing, give your scalp a thorough kneading with your fingertips. This will manually loosen any dead skin cell buildup and enable the therapeutic ingredients in your treatment to really penetrate.
Your Winter Woe:My strands are super-static-y
Your counterattack: Exposure to dry, chilly air can create an electrical charge in your hair, causing it to defy gravity and float around your head. Making sure your hair is well-moisturized (by following the advice above) will help cut down on static simply because hydrated hair is heavier and less vulnerable to lift-off. Some pros also say using a metal comb, as opposed to a brush with natural or plastic bristles, can keep static at bay.
If, however, your hair is already standing on end, these fast fixes all add enough weight to bring wayward strands back down. Squirt a tiny drop of hand or face lotion on your palm, rub your hands together, and carefully pat down static-y strands—avoiding your roots. Run a fabric-softener sheet (or one of those frizz-fighting hair care sheets) over your hair’s top layer. Or just douse your head with a soft-hold hairspray, then gently smooth down wisps with your fingers.
Your Winter Woe: My hair gets tangled all the time
Your counterattack: Scarves, turtlenecks, or coats that zip up to the chin may be cozy and warm—but they can also be problematic for your hair. Anything with a high neck comes in constant contact with hair that’s longer than chin-length and that friction, over time, can cause those strands to become matted and knotty. Simple solutions include opting for an updo (ballerina bun, a braid, a knot at your nape) when you’re wearing something around your neck—or, if your winter coat’s the main culprit, tucking your hair safely inside a hat while you commute.
To create a customized, winter-appropriate hair care regimen that infuses your strands with abundant hydration, as well as prevents a sensitized scalp, get started here.