When the cooler weather hits us, you need to switch up how you care for your natural hair – especially if you have fine natural hair. The tips you are about to read will teach those with natural hair how to take care of hair in cold weather. The ultimate goal is for you to seamlessly transition from being a bit more free with your natural hair in the summer to doing what’s needed to preserve it in the winter.
It goes without saying that you have to protect your hair from the elements in the summer, winter spring and fall (if you live in a seasonal climate); just differently and from different elements.
What Your Hair Needs Protection from in Winter
When winter rolls around, it’s extremely important to be on top of how you manage your hair care in cold weather. You have to protect your hair from:
- extremely cold temperatures
- frigid air
- dry air
- pollutants that have found their way into snow
- winter clothing (think: wool, hats, scarves etc)
In addition to protecting your hair from certain elements, it’s important to provide your hair with extra support to prevent extreme dryness from indoor heat which leads to excess tangling and breakage.
So, let’s take a look at ten ways you can protect your hair and give it the support it needs to make it through the cold winter months.
I. Amp Up Deep Conditioning
Wash day has always been the time in which you infuse your hair with the moisture it needs. Deep conditioning after washing your hair is the key way that this is done.
During the winter months, you want to be even more diligent with deep conditioning your hair. On wash day, it’s the deep conditioning process that infuses your hair with moisture, protecting it from drying out whether indoors or out.
To amp up your deep conditioning, there are a couple things you can do:
- Sit under the heated cap with your choice of deep conditioner that doesn’t contain protein for a little longer. The standard time to leave a conditioner in is 30 minutes. So, during the colder months extend that time to an hour.
- Add an oil like almond oil, avocado oil or olive oil to your deep conditioner. These oils are known to perform well for dry skin conditions. The same goes for hair.
II. Pre-Poo with Coconut Oil
The next tip that can help you with your hair care in winter is to pre-poo your hair with coconut oil.
Coconut oil has long been the gold standard for pre-shampooing. That’s because it easily absorbs into your hair and the high fatty acid content helps to keep your hair moisturized.
III. Protective Style with Twists or Braids
There are many hairstyles you can do to protective style your hair. These include:
- Box braids (pinned up for 100% protection)
- Twists (also, pinned up for 100% protection)
- Flat Twists
- French rolls
- Bantu Knots
However, the very nature of styling with braids and twists are the most effective protective styles for “locking” moisture into the hair.
When you braid or twist (damp, not wet) hair, that’s moisturized and sealed with an oil or hair butter, the moisture takes much longer to escape the hair strand.
By now, you’ve probably figured out, the major focus for effective cold weather hair care is MOISTURE.
IV. Change Your Sealing Agent
Throughout the year when it’s not cold, if you are like most naturals you seal your hair with an oil. If you have fine hair, you would typically use a lightweight, quick absorbing oil. These include Jojoba, Argan, Sweet Almond and of the lightest, Grapeseed oil.
These lightweight oils are great during the warmer months but in the winter, you want a heavy duty sealant – a hair butter. While, usually too heavy for fine hair, they are good when used while protective styling.
You can purchase hair butters on the market or you can whip up your own using Mango Butter, Cocoa Butter and/or Shea Butter. There are many recipes online but if you want to keep it simple check out the recipe shared for fine hair here:
V. Double Seal Your Ends
With the ends being the oldest part of your hair, they are also the most fragile and need a little extra TLC. Especially during the colder months.
Since your hair is more prone to drying out in the winter, if you are going to wear braids or twists that you don’t pin up, double sealing them will provide some protection from your clothing and the cold weather.
I explain the technique in this video:
VI. Oil your dry strands
Oil is not only good for boosting your deep conditioners moisture potential. Applying it to dry hair is also the only way to lubricate your strands.
While you may not always opt to protective style your hair, you do want to make sure that when you wear it out, the individual strands can move freely.
Additionally, when you are handling your hair to style it, oiling your dry strands helps you to manipulate your hair with less chance of breakage.
Lubrication helps to prevent your hair from tangling.
VII. Add herbs to your deep conditioner
There are so many herbs given to us by the Creator. Some of them serve to promote moisture in your hair and some serve to strengthen your hair.
In the winter, you need a nice balance of moisture and strength.
- Amla, Henna and Fenugreek are three herbs that strengthen the hair
- Aloe Vera, Shikakai and Marshmallow root are three herbs that facilitate moisture in the hair
BONUS: Shikakai can be used to create your own hair cleanser which can be used in place of most shampoos that can be pretty drying to the hair. Wild Turmeric shares the easiest recipe I’ve found for a DIY Shampoo using Shikakai.
VIII. Keep up with protein treatments
Even though moisture is of the utmost concern during the cold months, you don’t want to skimp on doing protein treatments.
While you don’t need to do these as often, you still want to make sure your are balancing all the added moisture you are giving to your hair with strength.
Top 3 Protein Treatments I’ve Used for My Fine Natural Hair
IX. Incorporate hot oil treatments
Hot oil treatments are a great alternative to using a deep conditioner with added oils. Yet, it’s a good idea to alternate doing both.
Cover your hair with a plastic cap after saturating it with a single warm natural oil or blend of warm natural oils. Then, apply a warm heating cap for 30-45 minutes.
Here are some recommended oils to use for a hot oil treatment:
- Coconut Oil
- Castor Oil
- Olive Oil
- Avocado oil
- Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Doing hot oil treatments will not only lubricate your hair and make it more manageable, it will support your hair’s moisture levels.
X. Wear a silk lined hat outdoors
Not all winter hair care is based on products. Protecting your hair when you go outdoors is just as important. Protecting your scalp and keeping the heat in your body is accomplished by wearing a hat.
Your choice of hat matters because it can either mat your hair or dry it out.
Wearing a silk lined hat (satin lined is a close second) will keep you warm and your hair protected. You can even find a silk hat that can double duty as a sleep cap.
Here’s a really nice one made from 100% Mulberry Silk (available in a number of colors). It’s highly rated by over a thousand people on Amazon:
If all of these cold weather hair care tips seem like a lot, then just pick a few to focus on. You can always start doing others throughout the winter.
If I had to choose I’d focus on these three:
- Amp up the deep conditioning
- Seal with a Hair Butter
- Protective Styling
Of course, you’ll get the best results protecting and supporting your natural hair if you do as many of the cold weather tips shared as possible.
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