Choose shampoos and conditioners that are designed to help hair retain its moisture. During the winter months it is good to use moisturizing deep conditioning treatments and masques every 4-6 weeks. These conditioners are heavier than traditional conditioners and are specifically designed for moisture retention. Apply the conditioning treatment with heat. The use of heat allows the cuticle layer of your hair to expand which allows the product to penetrate to the cortex layer. Use a plastic cap and a hooded dryer for 15-20 minutes and rinse with cool water to seal the cuticle layer for the best results. Hot oil treatments are also great to add to your hair maintenance ritual every four weeks. This is because split ends occur more frequently in the winter. Hot oil treatments should reduce the occurrence of split ends. However, it is still a good practice to trim your hair every 8-10 weeks.
Add natural oils to your shampoo and conditioner for added benefit. Natural oils such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil penetrate the cuticle layer, helping curly hair retain moisture longer and better. When choosing products look for ones that have these oils in them or you can buy them from most health food stores. As a natural hair stylist, I prefer and recommend products that are certified organic.
During the winter, months dry your hair before leaving the house. It is better to use a micro-fiber towel since they are more absorbent and they help to reduce frizz. If you use a diffuser to dry your hair, keep it on medium heat. Higher temperature settings can dry out your hair and scalp. When blow drying your hair without a diffuser, keep the nozzle at a 90-degree angle making sure not to blow heat directly on the hair or scalp. Direct heat will dry out your hair and scalp and can even burn.
The products you use should be non-alcohol based gels, cream curl definers, and light leave-in conditioners. Alcohol-based products dry the hair making it more susceptible to breakage. Silicone based serums are humectants designed to draw moisture into your hair from the air. However, if the air is dry it can actually pull moisture out of your hair. Avoid products that contain petrolatum or petroleum. These ingredients can block the hair follicle, weigh down your hair, and attract dirt.
Products that contain protein can harden your hair making it brittle.
Protective hairstyles such as braids and twists protect your hair from friction against winter fabrics like wool and cotton hats and scarves. These styles allow your hair to rest from color and thermal styling and all the wear and tear from summer time activities that leave chlorine and salt water in your hair.
With braids and twists as your protective style of choice, your hair can be styled differently every day of the winter season without ever using heat or chemically altering your hair. Your hair can be beautifully coiffed if you're going to a formal affair. It can also be styled for work or worn as a casual style. The most popular style choices for my clients are double strand twists with or without extensions.
As a quick note and reminder for your night time hair care routine, tie your hair with a silk or satin scarf or bonnet. You can also use a silk or satin pillowcase, as they do not rub against the hair causing friction like cotton does. If you still struggle with maintaining well-moisturized hair during the winter, consult with a beauty professional in your area.