This article has been updated for clarity and includes additional winter hair care tips and updated photos.
If you live in a cold climate like I do (NY), then you know how frigid and brutal the cold can be. It has wreaked havoc on my fine hair in the past. I didn’t realize the importance of winterizing my hair back then. I used to care for my hair the same way I cared for it in the summer – including wearing it out most days.
I’m sure you can imagine what the impact to my hair was back then. It’s bad enough fine hair is already prone to breakage due to the fragility of this hair type.
If you notice an increase in hair breakage and your hair is not growing past your shoulders when the temperatures drop, then these winter hair care tips are for you.
Protect Your Strands From Drying Out
This may seem like a common sense statement but there are actual strategic steps to protecting your hair from drying out. It all starts on wash day and includes:
- Making sure to deep condition using heat every time you wash your hair. This will help to impart moisture to the innermost layers of your hair.
- Seal your hair every time you add moisture to it. This slows down the evaporation of moisture that’s being applied to your hair. Oils will seal in the moisture but in the winter, you will need something heavier – a butter based product.
Don’t worry about butters weighing your hair down in the winter if your hair is fine. Protective styling with braids, twists and buns are best anyway when it’s cold out. If you do happen to wear your hair out, do so with caution. It is more prone to breakage during the winter months.
Protect Your Hair From Exposure
Speaking of protective styling, no winterizing of hair can occur without including this method of hair care.
A lot of ladies put in kinky twists, mini twists, braids etc. I’ve found that for fine hair like mine, these protective styles aren’t necessarily the best options to protect our hair.
While your hair is indeed hidden away and protected from exposure with these styles, they require far too much manipulation to install and take down when the time comes.
If you do it yourself, you know how super careful you have to be. If you get your hair done by someone else, I can guarantee they will not be as careful with your hair as you will. Hence, some breakage is bound to occur (i.e. braiding, adding hair)
Since fine hair is much more prone to breakage when handled, I opt for low manipulation protective styles like buns or medium to large twists that I can pin up and roll away.
Whatever way you decide to protective style, just make sure not to neglect your hair. The name of the game is not Set it and Forget it.
Strengthen Your Hair Against Breakage
Keeping your hair strong by way of strengthening treatments is just as important as making sure it’s kept well moisturized.
It’s always smart to have an adequate balance of protein and moisture in your hair but especially in the winter.
Doing protein treatments at least once a month or adding herbs to your deep conditioner will help keep your hair strong. The top 3 hair strengthening herbs are fenugreek, amla and henna.
Place a buffer between your hair and the cold
A buffer can come in the form of that heavy butter I mentioned above coupled with a scarf, a wig or a hat. If you opt for a wig, make sure you put a buffer between it and your hair as well. For example, a wig cap.
If you choose to wear a scarf or hat, make sure that the material making contact with your hair is either satin or silk. These materials won’t strip your hair of moisture like cotton can.
My Personalized Winter Hair Care Routine
Winter weather is normal but only accounts for 1/4 of the year’s weather in my region The other 3/4s of the year require a little less diligence (not much less though). Hence, I designed a winter hair care routine that works for my fine hair.
Steps derived from all the winter hair care tips:
- Using a hair steamer while applying my pre-poo on wash day
- Applying a light oil throughout my hair just before getting out of the shower
- Employ the LCOC (Liquid, Conditioner, Oil, Cream) method of sealing
- Using whipped Aloe Vera butter to seal the length of my hair on wash day AND mid-week
- Sealing the ends of my hair with JBCO (Jamaican Black Castor Oil) in addition to the hair butter
- Keeping my hair stretched using my RevAir hair dryer. This is the most gentle hair dryer every made and helps me reduce the amount of tangling my hair would incur if allowed to shrink up to its natural state
- Low manipulation styling with medium to large twists or braids on stretched hair
Jane Carter Nourish and Shine (this is a re-brand) was once my hair butter of choice. I mixed it with Jane Carter Hair Nourishing Serum and applied it to my dry hair every other day. The serum was formulated with a rich blend of essential oils that aids the hair in the strength and moisture departments.
I no longer use these products but it’s not because they aren’t good. They are great. I’m just trying to use more cost effective (for me) products. Also, the company was sold and no longer in business.
To sum it up, winterizing your hair is pretty simple:
Low manipulation protective styles done on well conditioned, moisturized hair that’s kept sealed with a hair butter, buffering your hair from the cold.
That’s it for winter hair care tips. When summer comes back around, I put my butters aside and return to using light oils to seal and cream stylers to style.
How do you go about winterizing your fine hair?