The cold, dry months are upon us, but adding a little extra care to your beauty routine will keep brittle hair at bay.
Hair tends to lose moisture and shine during winter, as the dry, cold environment makes the scalp more susceptible to dehydration. The cold air outside, paired with harsh indoor heating, can result in fragile, brittle hair, dandruff, hair breakage and hair loss. Fortunately, there are ways to fight the effects of the season and keep your tresses looking and feeling healthy.
1. Cut down on washing
If you wash your hair daily, you risk depleting its natural oils. During winter, it’s especially important to let the oils produced by your scalp nourish your hair, so it’s a good idea to switch to washing just two or three times a week. Your hair might appear excessively greasy for a short period, as it will be accustomed to over-producing the oil you’ve been stripping it of, but after a week or two you’ll notice that it adjusts and appears glossy and nourished. If you’re worried about greasy-looking hair, use a dry shampoo between washes. You should also make sure that the shampoo you’re using is gentle and moisturising.
2. Be gentle
Dry hair is often fragile and requires extra care to prevent breakage. Avoid vigorous scrubbing and brushing, and rough towel-drying. Shampoo your hair gently using your fingertips, rinse slowly and squeeze and pat excess water out with care – avoid wringing it out or twisting it.
Avoid washing your hair in very hot water, as this can damage it. Set the water to cold or tepid, which will seal your
hair’s cuticles and keep more moisture in.
3. Don’t skip conditioning
Squeeze about a 20c or 50c coin-sized amount of conditioner onto your palm, depending on your hair length. This might not seem to be enough, but the aim is to apply the conditioner to the strands of your hair without weighing them down or making them feel saturated. Massage the conditioner gently through your hair, starting at the tips, and rinse out gently. You can also use a leave-in conditioner for added shine and manageability.
4. Lay off the heat and harsh chemicals
Applying extreme heat to your hair, such as straightening or using a curling wand, can weaken its structure and strip it of moisture, resulting in long-term damage. Regular dyeing and bleaching also leaves your hair vulnerable to damage, as the ammonia in the dye allows it to penetrate your hair by lifting the protective cuticles of each strand, while hydrogen peroxide – another common ingredient – dries your hair while destroying your natural colour to accommodate the dye. Give your hair a break from heat during winter, which will allow it to regain its healthy shine, and look for natural dyes that don’t contain harmful chemicals. If you’re going to expose your hair to heat, always use a heat protector product.
5. Treat yourself
A deep-conditioning treatment once a week will help your hair retain moisture and shine and prevent a dull, brittle appearance. Good-quality treatments can also help to repair damage caused by heat, as they restore the structure of your hair from the inside out.
6. Style your hair to protect
Protective styles, like box braids and bantu knots, are particularly well-suited for ethnic hair during the dry winter months. These styles require almost no fuss – and the less touching and manipulation, the safer your hair will be from
breakage. Keep your natural hair safe from the elements, moisturised and maintain length by choosing the right style. Make sure your roots aren’t pulled too tightly for your chosen hairstyle and regularly moisturise your scalp using a leave-in conditioner or oil.
7. Look after your ends
Pop into your salon every two or three months for a quick trim to get rid of split and damaged ends from winters past. Eventually, all your hair will be replaced by silky, healthy, new growth.
8. Grease your palms
To take care of frizz or flyaways and add even more moisture to your hair, try a hair oil. Apply just a small amount, using your fingertips to distribute it evenly through your hair, avoiding the roots.
9. Use a boar-bristle brush or comb
As a general rule, wide-toothed combs are better than brushes for fragile hair, as they don’t pull or break the strands. If you do use a brush, go for a boar-bristle one with natural bristles that mimic the texture of your hair. This helps to evenly distribute natural oils from your scalp down the lengths of your hair.
10. Protect your hair from the environment
South African winters are often accompanied by a fair bit of sun, so make sure your scalp’s just as protected as your face to prevent dryness. Keep your scalp shielded from the sun and cold with a stylish warm hat or beanie.
FEATURE: CAITLIN GENG PHOTOS: FOTOLIA.COM