The Ultimate Guide to Winter Hair Care
Winter’s a wonderful time of year, but it can be hell for your hair. Low temperatures, dry air and stiff winds can strip all the moisture from your hair, leaving it looking lifeless, brittle and dull. Worse still, the dry winter air can damage your scalp and disrupt the production of sebum – a natural, oily substance that’s meant to keep your hair looking sleek and full-bodied.
Static can be a big problem in winter too; particularly if you like to wear hats, or spend a lot of time in heated, indoor environments. This is because your hair starts to pick up a static charge whenever it dries out. Under normal conditions, most of this static charge would be absorbed by water molecules floating in the air. But unfortunately, dry winter air doesn’t allow static to dissipate properly, this means that hair tends to frizz up very quickly; forcing you to engage in a never-ending battle with stubborn wisps and fly-away strands. According to our very own celebrity hair stylist Kieron Fowles, most people battle with some combination of limp, dry or frizzy hair in winter. Split ends are another common complaint – as are dull or brassey colours – and the season is well-known for ruining even the best-kept do’s.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to protect your hair this winter. Switching to a moisturising shampoo, using an oil treatment or trialling a hydrating conditioner are all great examples – particularly if you’re trying to lock in moisture, and prevent your hair from becoming brittle.
The careful application of scalp treatments may also help to protect your hair from winter’s worst excesses, and it’s worth noting that some specialist masks are actually formulated to fight frizzy or dry hair head-on, which makes them a great choice for anyone trying to maintain a semblance of style this winter.
Making small changes to your everyday routine can have a tremendous impact too. Our experts recommend that even something as simple as washing your hair less often can help to keep it looking full and thick during the winter months – as long as you use a hydrating shampoo that’s designed to nourish individual hair follicles from root to tip, of course.
It’s all about having the right products, and following the right routine.
We’ve set out to help you find the treatments, shampoos, and conditioners that are capable of protecting your hair from the cold air. We’ve also highlighted some hydrating face masks, and tried to shed a little light on the importance of a good dry shampoo.
In most cases, the products that we’ve highlighted are winter-friendly alternatives to your everyday essentials, but we have mentioned some specialist products – including hair masks and revitalising conditioners – that are designed to nourish and revitalise limp hair. These products might not be the sort of thing you’d normally drop into your shopping basket due to their specialist nature, but they are particularly well-suited to reversing winter damage, and they’re suitable for all hair types too.
Our Regis experts say that every good hair care routine starts with the scalp – and for good reason too! Alongside the individual hair follicles, your scalp is covered in hundreds of microscopic sebaceous glands – these are the glands responsible for producing the healthy sebum oils that protect and nourish your hair. Whenever your scalp becomes dry or irritated, these sebaceous glands stop working and your body’s supply of sebum dries up; leaving your hair without it’s natural protective coating, and exposing individual strands to the cold, winter air.
Over time, this process contributes to the formation of brittle, dry or lifeless hair, as well as dramatically increasing your chances of developing visible dandruff. What’s more, the absence of sebum is strongly correlated to the formation of split ends, which means that developing a dry or itchy scalp may actually stop your hair from growing properly this winter.
Luckily, experts working for brands like Redken and Label.M have formulated a variety of specialist shampoos and treatments that are designed to nourish your scalp. Many of these products use a combination of peptides, proteins and plant extracts to maintain the balance of natural oils that are needed to keep your scalp healthy.
Some are also designed to soothe inflammation directly, which means that they’re ideally suited to protecting your scalp from the chilly weather.
Our favourite scalp care products include:
If you can work these options into your weekly hair care routine, you will minimise your chances of split ends, and help to combat dry or lifeless hair.
Most of us know to switch shampoos every 4-5 washes, but did you know that it’s also a good idea to change your shampoo according to the season? Our experts advise that shampoos designed to volumise, clarify or chelate should all be put away in October, in exchange for shampoos that are specifically designed to hydrate, control frizz and repair damaged hair.
This is because shampoos that chelate or clarify your hair tend to contain fairly stringent chemicals, like sodium laureth sulfate. These powerful surfactants do a good job of cleaning hair, but they can also strip away a lot of your hair’s natural oils; exacerbating the issues with dry or brittle hair that tend to crop up during the winter.
Meanwhile, volumizing shampoos tend to clean with a very light touch, which means that they shy away from the hydrating compounds that are needed to protect hair from the cold weather.
As such, it’s highly recommended that you pick a shampoo that is specifically designed to hydrate your hair, control frizz or repair damage.
The majority of these shampoos are formulated using ingredients like keratin or argan oil and other nutrients that are designed to work their way into your hair, and repair the damage caused by cold weather or strong winds. Hydrating shampoos also provide a protective coating for your hair, which helps to lock in moisture, and keep your hair looking nice and sleek.
The best examples are also a little stronger than the relatively lightweight shampoos we use in summer. This is important because leading haircare experts do recommend washing your hair less in winter too. Some even recommend cutting down to just two washes per week, which means that you’ll definitely need a little extra ‘oomph’ to keep you squeaky clean between washes.
Our favourite winter-friendly shampoos include:
If you can add these shampoos to your rotation, and cut down on the total number of washes per week, you will help to keep your hair looking full and well-nourished.
Dry shampoo might seem like an odd thing to find in a guide to winter hair care, but these fantastically handy alternatives to regular, liquid shampoos are actually a great addition to any winter hair care routine.
This is because the process of washing your hair with shampoo and water automatically strips away a lot of natural oils. While a hydrating shampoo will help to counter some of this damage, there is still a definite advantage to minimising weekly washes – particularly if you have quite fine or limp hair by default.
That’s not to say that you should forgo shampoo entirely! It would be incredibly remiss of us to leave you with the impression that you shouldn’t wash your hair, and it is important to stress that the benefits of using a good shampoo 2-3 times per week are simply unparalleled.
But if you can use a dry shampoo to reduce your total number of washes, you will help to maximise your hair’s natural protection and safeguard delicate follicles from the vagaries of winter.
If you pick the right dry shampoo, you can also help to keep your hair looking full and volumized. If this is a look you’re after, then we’d recommend keeping your eyes peeled for dry shampoos with a super fine granule as they provide lots of texture and volume when used sparingly. These products really are a godsend given that the harsh winds, winter hats and dry air associated with the winter months can leave your hair looking limp and lifeless.
Our favourite dry shampoos include:
We would generally recommend using these dry shampoos on the days that fall between washes, although they can be used to ‘revitalise’ hair that’s looking flat or dull at the end of a busy day – making them a great choice for Christmas parties!
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, winter weather is frustratingly good at taking well-behaved hair, and turning it into unkempt mess. Frizzy curls, flyaways and split ends are the order of the day, and you may well find yourself battling to maintain your hair’s shine as well.
Luckily, a good conditioner can fix most of these problems – particularly if it’s used in conjunction with a hydrating shampoo and a good scalp treatment. Conditioners are actually designed to smooth and nourish your hair; locking in moisture to combat frizz and keep your hair looking nice and sleek.
Most modern conditioners also contain ingredients that are designed to actively repair damaged hair and some winter-friendly options can even add lustre to dull or dry locks, making them an ideal choice for anyone that wants to enjoy healthy, vibrant hair for the duration of the season.
So, what makes a good winter conditioner? According to our stylists, you need to look out for options that are designed to hydrate or tame frizz. Moisture repair conditioners are another safe bet too, as are conditioners designed to smooth or straighten damaged hair.
All of these conditioners are formulated to revitalise brittle locks, and they all contain ingredients that are capable of reaching deep into your hair to reverse the damage caused by cold, dry weather.
The best conditioners will also contain ingredients that are designed to smooth down angry or cracked cuticles, which means that they can actively shield the most delicate parts of your hair from further harm.
Our favourite winter conditioners include:
Adding these to your hair wash regime will help you on the path to silky smooth hair all through the winter months.
Still struggling with dry or damaged hair? If so, you might want to try a hair mask. These powerful treatments act like a turbo-charged conditioner – sending nutrients, oils and natural extracts deep into the cortex of individual hairs, where they can start to repair the damage done by cold, friction or dehydration.
Good hair masks are prized by stylists, but they’re also a great option for those of us trying to reverse winter damage, and they’re easy to use too. In fact, most masks just need to be worked into freshly-washed hair, and then left for 10-20 minutes so that they can work their magic.
Once they’ve had time to nourish, hydrate and condition your hair, it’s just a case of rinsing away any excess serum, and then applying your normal conditioner. It’s about half an hour’s work, all things considered, and it can transform your hair – particularly if you’re battling very dry or brittle hair.
Hair masks do have to be used sparingly, as they are oil heavy-and applying them more than once a week can leave your hair looking greasy or limp. That said, these salon-quality products are the best possible way to safeguard your hair during winter, particularly if you take the time to pick an option that’s designed to hydrate or repair.
Our favourite winter-friendly hair masks include:
But any option that contains ingredients like shea, argan oil, honey or coconut will help to nourish your hair, and fight winter damage.