Along with the upsides of winter (Cozy layers, lit fireplaces, and hot cocoa with mini marshmallows, anyone?) come a few downsides, especially when it comes to your hair. (Can you hear the static in the air?) Don’t worry, though, there are ways to beat bad hair days when the weather is less than appealing. Here are some of the most common winter hair woes and how to fix them.
1. Straw-Like Strands
Much like with static hair, when the moisture levels in the air drops, your hair can tend to become dry and brittle and even feel a little like straw. This is especially true for curly-haired girls, since coiled hair is drier by nature.
The Fix: There are a few things that need to happen: (1) Chill on your hot tools usage and give you hair a break. (2) Implement more moisture into your hair care regimen with a hydrating shampoo, conditioner, and a mask with hydrating ingredients like coconut milk or argan oil. (3) Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase, or use a satin-lined cap like this one to help retain any moisture you’re putting back into your hair. If your hair is still dry, apply a leave-in product onto your strands for extra hydration; for fine, straight hair, use Davine’s Dede Hair Mist, and for thicker, curly hair, use KMS California Curl Up Control Creme.
If you color your hair, colorist Aura Friedman at Sally Hershberger Salon in NYC suggests asking your colorist to apply Olaplex (a formula that strengthens broken bonds in your hair) onto your hair before dyeing it. She also recommended ordering a bottle for at-home use to saturate your strands before washing to keep your hair from becoming dry and to prevent breakage.
When temperatures dip, your hair picks up an electrical charge from the dry air, causing it to stand up, trichologist (aka hair doctor) Philip Kingsley says. And since it’s common in the chillier months because the air is less moist everywhere, you have to work extra hard to combat it.
The Fix: Keep as much moisture in your hair as possible so it’s less susceptible to the effects of dry air. That means switching to a more hydrating shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair type; using a tourmaline or ionic hair dryer, which won’t deplete your hair of its moisture like other regular dryers can; stashing a dryer sheet in your bag and lightly running it over your strands when you’re on the go; rubbing some hand cream in your palms and smoothing it over the staticky strands to calm them; and sleeping on a silk pillowcase (regardless of what your hair texture is, since cotton absorbs moisture and silk retains it).
3. Split Ends
The only way to really cure a case of split ends is to get a haircut, but there are ways to make them look better until you get to the salon.
The Fix: If you’re in a pinch and absolutely can’t wait for your stylist to snip your broom-like ends, you can twist your hair until the split ends pop out along the sides and trim them away. Otherwise, use a split end binding cream on your ends to fake the look of healthier hair. Nexxus makes one that actually helps repair the split by fusing it back to the strand with continued use.
4. Matted Hair
Chances are you know this strand sitch well: The moment you start wearing thicker collar jackets and scarves, the hair at the nape of your neck gets matted into a rat’s nest that basically looks like you rode a motorcycle sans helmet to wherever you’re going.
The Fix: Braid your hair to the back or side, or put your hair in a bun to keep all your strands contained and tangle-free. If you must wear your hair down, take the section of hair from your ears down and put it in a ponytail, leaving the rest of your hair over top of it. This will minimize the chances of any matting.
5. Dry, Itchy Scalp
Just like your skin gets dry in the winter from indoor heating and drier air, your scalp skin does too. And when it becomes dry, it’s likely to itch and even flake off.
The Fix: Friedman says to shampoo less (since they contain surfactants that clean your hair but can be drying), and instead use more moisturizing conditioners (Friedman suggests Plarmia Hair Serum Oil), cleansing conditioners, or by applying coconut oil on your scalp and massaging it in as a hair mask, then leaving it on for 10 minutes before rinsing it out. If your scalp is unbearably itchy, pat your head instead of scratching it, and talk to your doctor about using Scalpicin Scalp Itch Treatment to calm the itchy sensation.
6. Hat Hair
Hats are a must in the winter to keep you from freezing. But hats can absorb the moisture in your hair, leaving it dry and can also leave your style looking subpar.
The Fix: Since you aren’t going to stop wearing hats mid-winter, avoid the aftermath of hat head by using a leave-in conditioner on your hair to lock in moisture. Then, after you style your strands, make sure to wait until your hair cools (aka don’t put your hat on right after you’re done blow-drying it); if your hair is still warm and moldable when you put your hat on, it will be lifeless when you take it off. Finally, when you get to your destination, flip your hair upside down after you remove your hat to revive your hair. Since you waited until your style cooled, it will maintain its original shape.