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 colors – 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. According to dermatologists, even something as simple as washing less can help to keep your hair 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.
It’s all about having the right products, and following the right routine.
With winter fast approaching, 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 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 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, but they are particularly well-suited to reversing winter damage, and they’re suitable for all hair types too.
It’s often said that every good hair care routine starts with the scalp, and with good reason too: Alongside individual hair follicles, your scalp is also studded with hundreds of microscopic glands – called sebaceous glands – that are 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 Paul Mitchell and Designline 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:
JPM Tea Tree Shampoo
Designline Olive Oil Restoring Oil
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? According to our stylist experts shampoos designed to volumise, clarify or chelate should all be put away in October, in exchange for shampoos that are specifically designed to:
- Control frizz,
- 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:
Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo
Biolage Colorlast Shampoo
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, mind. 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 of interest, we’d recommend keeping your eyes peeled for dry shampoos with a super fine granule.
Used sparingly, these super-fine dry shampoos provide lots of texture and volume, which can be a real godsend given that the harsh winds, winter hats and dry air associated with the winter months can all leave your hair looking limp and lifeless.
Our favourite dry shampoos include:
Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
EIMI Dry Me
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:
Designline Olive Oil Conditioner
Designline Enchanted Midnight Conditioner
Hair care experts at any of our salons will tell you that in order to prevent hair from becoming damaged, it is vital that you introduce a good heat protectant into your styling regime. During the winter months we become less reliant on allowing our hair to dry naturally in the sun (tousled beach waves probably seem like a distant memory right now) and rely more on heat styling to achieve our desired look.
By now, you’ve probably mastered the art of dressing for the cold, but no matter how well you’ve layered your outfit, missing this vital step of protecting your hair prior to styling will no doubt bring unwanted side effects to your beauty game. The added drawback with winter hair drama is that it can turn into irreversible damage by spring, leaving you no choice but to opt for a drastic chop to get rid of those horrible dead ends. Whilst you may love the idea of chopping off a great big chunk of your hair, the fact that damaged hair brought you to this scenario is not so good.
Here’s what happens: Blow dryers, flat irons and curling irons weaken and destroy vital proteins in your hair, as well as drain your hair of its natural oils. The more often you use heat tools the more protection your hair will need.
Your choice of products can vary from heat protection sprays, serums or creams. Heat protectants work by adding a protective shield on your hair’s fibre surface to prevent moisture loss and limit dehydration, resulting in less snagging and breakage when styling. Typically, most heat protectors are applied on damp, towel dried hair but some products are specially designed for use on dry hair too. This is great for those days when you don’t have time to wash your hair but need to revive your style with a heat styler.
The best part is that heat protectants don’t just keep your hair from getting fried — they also add shine, de-frizz and help smooth out the texture of your tresses. Once applied to hair, you can style with confidence.
Our favorite heat protectants are:
Designline Hot Stop Style Primer
Designline Texture Balance Frizz Primer