Winter Hair Care: 5 Ways To Keep Your Hair Healthy In Winter

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Let me begin by disclaiming that I am not a fan of winter, and I am certainly not a fan of the effects winter has on my scalp and hair. I usually don’t do a thing about it, so in an effort to remind myself of what I ought to do, here are 5 ways to keep your hair healthy in winter.

My winter hair is not ideal. I get flaky, I get itchy, and the air-conditioner situation can be a real pain in the neck and scalp. I need to strategically plan any hair washing or rinsing, and I need to cover up well, because when I get sick I go down for the count. I’m out of it sometimes for days. Thanks again for the chronic-sinusitis genes, Mom.

I get it: the earth needs to renew, and winter actually helps things grow. Fine. But why the bitter cold, why the gloom, why the scathing hail, and the howling winds? Who needs that? I know some take pleasure in that kind of weather, and far be it from me to judge, but it gets me down sometimes.

I usually like my hair a lot. It’s a part of me and I enjoy caring for it, especially with natural products. Precisely because of that, it annoys me a little when I feel that nature itself has turned against me and my locks. Sometimes the cold and wetness cause my scalp to feel tight and achy. That’s when I know it’s time to deep-condition with an apple cider vinegar rinse.

Why Do I Have Dry Hair In Winter?

Not everyone suffers during the winter. Some people actually enjoy it, and are nearly unaffected in spirit, skin, or hair. There are also those who experience a winter which is much more forgiving in nature, and so it is easier for their hair strands to deal with it. I have no idea what people in freezing cold climates do, but I don’t think I could cope with it. November through March is not easy for me on any level.

Hair dries up in the winter because ‘tis the season – literally. It is a period of dry and cold air. There is less humidity, due to the cold air’s inability to possess much moisture. There are often significant temperature differences inside and outside, and this is exacerbated due to the presence of air-conditioners. Furthermore, certain air-conditioner mechanisms rob the air of whatever humidity it holds, causing even greater distress.

I suppose I should be grateful that what I experience is mainly discomfort, and that I don’t shed too much during the winter. Seasonal hair loss or thinning is a real thing.

Hair Loss In Winter Explained

Hands taking hair out of hair brush.

Woman brushing hair.

Our hair goes through several stages in the course of its life, and each strand experiences one of those stages somewhat independently of the rest of the head. Collectively, hairs are going through different stages simultaneously all over the scalp. The life of an average hair is between 2 to 7 years, and then it is shed after going into its final phase. 

What contributes more than anything to the shedding and/or thinning of the hair, is the low temperatures combined with the lack of sunlight. As summer draws to a close, many hairs move into the final stage of their life. A few months later (come wintertime) they are shed. We humans are animals, after all, and there are those among us who shed hair as the seasons are changing. As natural as the process is, some are distressed when they find those clumps and tufts of hair which have left their head.

Diet, nutritional supplements, and avoiding too much heat-styling could help to lessen the problem of seasonal hair loss or even avoid it altogether. The products and styling tools you use matter more in the winter, because the hair may be weaker and more susceptible to stretching and breaking off. In wintertime, you may find that you’re shedding up to three times as much as in other seasons.

In most cases, the hair which is shed will grow back in time. By the way, I used to think that the condition was called “seasonal alopecia”, but I later found out that’s the term given to a winter condition related primarily to dogs. With humans, it is typically called seasonal hair loss.

5 Ways To Keep Your Hair Healthy In Winter

There are ways of mitigating some of the winter’s harsh effects on the scalp and hair. Genetics always play a part, and some will be more susceptible than others. But when it comes to winter dryness, there is more that can physically be done about it. Here are our 5 ways to keep your hair healthy in winter.

1. Avoid Extra Dryness

Make sure your head is as dry as can be when you step outside. The cold causes the water that is still on your scalp and hair to damage the structural integrity of the strands. By drying your hair properly, the hair stays clean and healthy during the colder months.

2. Don’t Over-Condition

Woman with curly hair putting hair oil drops in her hair.

Woman using nourishing oils in her hair.

Honestly, this is a balance that is sometimes difficult to reach. You don’t want to under-condition either, since the hair needs the nourishment and protection during the winter months. It’s all about trial and error, and it depends on your hair type. Consider using a weekly mask or serum in order to keep the hair hydrated.

3. Use Lukewarm Water

Brunette woman shampooing her hair while showering.

Woman washing her hair.

I know, I know – we love a hot shower in the winter. It’s such a great feeling to just let the hot water work its magic on our body. However, it is also important to use caution, since heat can cause dryness. This is true in summer as well, but it is more pertinent in the colder months, because of the differences in temperature.

4. Avoid Chemicals

Alcohol is famous for snatching moisture from the scalp and hair. Usually, those types of chemicals are added to products so they dry faster and act quicker. Not all alcohol-based products are a no-no, but you should certainly keep it under advisement. This is a tip that is also true in the warmer months but can be more detrimental in the winter.

5. Moisturize

Back of womans head with leave-in conditioner.

Woman with conditioner in her hair.

A few years ago, my savior came in the form of Moroccan oil. As I said, I usually don’t do much about the condition of my hair in the winter, but if you are prone to dryness, flakes, and dandruff – consider moisturizing or using some kind of oil. It can be a leave-in, a mask of some kind, or a quickie hair oil session in the evening. 

Those are just five simple ways to keep hair healthy during the winter. There are many others, so do your research and trust your judgment. The overarching rule of thumb is: be vigilant and don’t mess too much with your hair. You can be interested in healthy hair, but then end up with dry, brittle, and split hair strands.

Conclusion

You may lose some hair in the winter, and you may not. It might thin out, and it might not. Regardless of your genes, your hair type, or its proclivity for shedding – keeping the hair healthy is crucial. Age, lifestyle, hormone imbalances, and product use are all contributing factors to hair thinning and/or excess shedding. And even when you think you know your hair, it could flip on you and start acting differently.

Winters can be hard and cold and downright nasty at times, and for me, this is usually true on several levels. Give me the spring and summer, give me life and newly-made birds’ nests with baby birds chirping. Give me the sunlight and its warm embrace… Sometimes I can’t get over how different the seasons are. That said, maintain proper hair health is a constant, no matter the season.

Start preparing for winter earlier. As the saying goes, the early worm gets the better hair. Even though you can’t foresee the results of the coming winter, you can try and incorporate some of these tips starting in the fall. By the time the harsher and colder weather rolls around, your kind attention to your hair will mean that it is better equipped to deal with those conditions.

Winter hair care can be difficult to manage and a real pain to keep up. But don’t despair! Through the implementation of relatively small and incremental changes, you will hopefully be able to avoid the dryness of the scalp and the thinning or shedding of your hair. Use your judgment, keep warm, and drink some herbal tea every now and then. Will I actually be able to practice what I preach this winter? Time will tell.

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