Cut back on heat styling
Blow-drying, flat-ironing and making waves with a curling iron all put a lot of stress on your strands. When hair’s cuticle layer (its protective coating) starts to lift up and fray, essential moisture can escape. “It’s slow, but consistent damage,” says Devin Toth, a hairstylist at Salon SCK on Fifth Avenue in New York City. If you cut back on the everyday heat damage during fall, your cuticle layer will stay intact and you’ll go into the winter season with stronger, healthier hair that can better withstand the dry, cold air. Treat your strands by skipping the hot tools and air drying two or three times a week. You should also consider stretching out your blowout for a couple extra days with dry shampoo, giving your strands a much needed break.
Sneak in more moisture
Conditioning ingredients and moisturizing oils don’t just make hair feel smooth and soft; they actually fill in little porous spots along the hair shaft (a result of damage) and smooth down that cuticle layer, helping to lock in moisture and making hair less vulnerable to damage. More moisture is also the antidote to annoying static that tends to happen every winter when the air gets dry. To boost your hair’s moisture content, start now with a weekly deep conditioning treatment, switch to a more moisturizing shampoo, begin using a leave-in conditioner after washes and incorporate a hair oil into your routine as a conditioning treatment or smoothing styler.
Switch to boar bristle
Did you know brushing your hair can help moisturize your strands? Well, it can if you’re using a boar bristle brush. The bristles are not only gentle on your delicate strands, preventing breakage, but also help “disperse natural oils from your scalp onto your hair strands,” says Toth. It’s like a natural moisturizing treatment—no product required.
Shampoo less often
Over-washing can dry out your strands and your scalp, which tend to get dry and flaky in the cold winter months. Don’t lather up more than two or three times a week, suggests Toth. And while you’re doing so, use a mild formula, free of harsh surfactants that can strip hair of its natural oils.
Cut back on the alcohol
The festive season is coming, which is even more of a reason to keep the alcohol in your cocktail glass, not in your strands. Alcohol is often added to styling products such as hairspray, gels and mousses and is notoriously drying. Switch over to alcohol-free styling products for less dehydrated strands.
Hit the salon
Before the temperature plunges, book an appointment with your stylist. The summer sun can leave you with fried, dried and split ends that will only get worse in winter. Snipping those off now will make hair healthier, says Toth. And if you’re considering a color treatment to give dull strands some luster, go with a gloss, he says. “Glosses are less damaging than single processes because they contain less peroxide in their formulation,” Toth explains. Plus, unlike color treatments designed to lift the cuticle to deposit color, glosses help seal down the cuticle. Your hair can hang onto its moisture and better withstand winter-related damage. And if you need even more convincing, note that a gloss gives strands extreme shine—no winter hair doldrums this year.
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