My hair care routine has become like a capsule that stays the same throughout the year, but I make a few tweaks to deal with common seasonal hair concerns. In winter, as soon as we turn the heat on and cold temperatures settle in, the major culprits women tend to face are frizz, dryness, static, flyaways, and itchy scalp.
These cold weather hair woes can sneak up suddenly, even if you have a great winter hair routine. So, similar to my skincare, I take a preventative approach that works proactively to stave off issues before they can sprout. Here’s everything I do to maintain moisturized, healthy hair and scalp in the winter:
1. Go Sulfate-Free
Shampooing with an easy-to-lather product feels lovely, but bubbles in foamy shampoo are from sulfates. These strip your hair’s natural oils and cause dryness, so I opt for sulfate-free products. I like Oribe’s Gold Lust collection, but the Pureology line is affordable, smells great, and can be found at Target, CVS, and Amazon.
2. Dry with a Cotton T-Shirt
Microfiber hair towels are all the rage, and while they’re a better option than traditional bath towels when it comes to fighting frizz and drying gently, nothing beats a cotton tee. I use oversized cotton t-shirts, which have high water-absorbing capacity and are easy on hair strands.
3. Use Detangling Sprays and Heat Protectants
I hardly ever go without a detangling spray (mine doubles as a heat protectant), especially in the winter. Without it, my hair is drier and much more prone to tangles and split ends. The tried and true detangling sprays I’ve returned to over the years are Oribe Run Through and Unite Leave-In Conditioner.
4. Use an Oil
It’s not uncommon to notice hair clinging when removing winter layers—the root cause is static. Hair oil products that contains ingredients like coconut oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, and argan oil help keep it at bay. I apply a dime-sized amount of hair oil to the ends of damp hair and use any remaining for a light scalp massage. The oil will help prevent flaky scalp and dandruff while soothing itchiness, and scalp massage can improve blood circulation to the follicle for overall hair health.
5. Wash Less Often
This tip is difficult to follow, so to help me stay on track, I use a swim cap and apply dry shampoo between washes. Swim caps are tighter than shower caps and therefore prevent all the small hairs around the nape of your neck from getting wet in the shower. When I wash my hair, I use lukewarm water rather than hot water to prevent dry scalp.
6. Reduce Heat Styling
As thankful as I am that we have incredible hot tools at our disposal these days, I try to use them as little as possible in the winter months. At the end of the day, blow drying, straightening, and curling draws moisture out of the hair. My hard and fast rule is that I only use my blow dryer on damp hair.
7. Hydrate with a Deep Conditioning Hair Mask
A weekly hair mask with hydrating, moisturizing, and nourishing ingredients is like a big glass of water for your hair. Certain deep conditioners can be left on overnight, like this one, but I enjoy simple, hydration-focused masks that sit for 5-10 minutes while you relax. I also find regular mask hair treatments make my hair texture smoother.
8. Don’t Go Outside with Wet Hair
Cold winter air expands the hair shaft, making the cuticle in each hair strand prone to breakage, no matter your hair type. If you have to go outdoors with wet or damp hair, just grab a beanie or hooded jacket. If you find that your hair doesn’t have enough time to air dry after morning washes, consider modifying your routine to wash your hair in the evenings.
9. Try a Humidifier
Heaters, fireplaces, and radiators take moisture out of the air, wreaking havoc on the skin and hair. Placing a small personal humidifier on your bedside table or on the floor of your bedroom can help you hair maintain its moisture in the cold months.
10. Eat Well
An old personal trainer of mine used to say “eat the rainbow,” and I completely agree. Nourishing your hair from the inside out with healthy fats like salmon, avocado, and nuts help keep your hair shiny and growing, and the antioxidants in vitamin C-containing foods like citrus fruits and dark leafy greens help prevent free radical damage that can cause split ends and breakage.
Shop My Winter Hair Routine
Which of the 10 winter hair care tips will you start working on today? Personally, I know that I can wash less often and need to eat more citrus fruits! Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram.
For more about my hair journey and healthy hair tips, visit the hair section of my blog, where you’ll learn things like how I went back to my natural hair color, my hair growth tips, easy hairstyle tutorials, and things I learned seeing a celebrity hairstylist.