Anyone who has been natural for a while now can attest to the fact that winter hair care is different from summer hair care. The same way your skin reacts differently to cold winter air, is the same way your hair also reacts differently in the winter.
This is why this article will be sharing twenty ways to maintain your natural hair in the winter so that your hair continues to thrive and grow despite the weather.
If you’ve been wondering why your hair suddenly feels dry in the winter and why some of your favorite hair products are no longer working, you’re going to gain a lot of insight from this post, so keep reading!
Before I get into sharing these twenty tips, I’d first want to answer some frequently asked questions regarding Black hair in the winter.
How can I protect my black hair in winter?
How can I keep my 4c hair moisturized in the winter?
20 Ways to Maintain Your Natural Hair in The Winter So It Keeps Growing
1. Use a gentle sulfate-free shampoo to cleanse your hair.
There is technically nothing wrong with sulfates in your shampoo; however, using it too often can cause your hair to dry out or have that “too clean” feeling that we can sometimes get when we over cleanse. Sulfate-free shampoos come in handy because they don’t cause that feeling.
They’re best to use in the winter months to allow your hair to keep more moisture. If you find that your hair is starting to feel drier, alternate between clarifying shampoos and sulfate-free shampoo.
2. Do a co-wash mid-week if your hair feels excessively dry.
If you don’t know what co-washing is, it’s basically “cleansing” your hair with conditioner so that your hair doesn’t feel stripped of moisture. A co-wash routine may be the best way to revive and rejuvenate your hair without going through the full wash day routine. It’s also a good practice for women with severely dry hair.
For more info about co-washing, please check out this detailed post where I go in-depth into co-washing, as well as to recommend 10 best co-wash conditioners to try out.
3. Do a weekly deep conditioning treatment with moisturizing deep conditioners
Deep conditioning is essential in the winter months because it keeps your hair moisturized and hydrated, which is what you need during this season. If you don’t deep condition enough, this is the time you’ll need it the most.
Please keep in mind that deep conditioners are different from regular conditioners. Deep conditioners are usually thicker in consistency and are meant to stay in your hair for a few minutes. They also work best with a little bit of heat such as a hooded dryer or heat cap.
For more information about deep conditioners, please read this full guide where I also recommended the best moisturizing deep conditioners to use.
4. Incorporate regular protein treatments to avoid breakage.
Since the hair is made up of keratin protein, it’s crucial to have the right balance of protein in your hair. Too much of it can result in stiff hair that breaks, while an insufficient amount may result in mushy hair that also breaks.
To ensure that you have adequate protein levels in your hair, you should alternate between moisturizing and protein deep conditioners. If you have a low manipulation routine, you may not need to use protein as much, so you don’t need to feel like you need a lot of protein in your hair.
How do you know your hair is lacking this vital ingredient? When your hair starts to get that straw feeling and breaks off, it’s time for a protein treatment as protein helps to bring new life and reconstruct our dried hair strands.
For more information about protein treatments and which ones to try, please read this complete guide on protein treatments.
5. Incorporate heat into your deep conditioning treatments
by using a hooded dryer. Use steam when deep conditioning for an enhanced deep conditioning session.
The heat helps conditioners penetrate our hair more, especially deep conditioners. There are great hooded dryers to sit under for a few minutes to allow the deep conditioner to work its magic. However, hooded dryers can be cumbersome, and some of us don’t have much space to sit under one in our homes. Luckily, there are some that you can connect a regular blow dryer to and get the same effect.
This bonnet hooded dryer reduces the amount of heat to your ears and neck so you can sit comfortably and not feel like you’re in a sauna. While this other bonnet hair dryer connects to a regular blow dryer for those who don’t have a traditional hooded dryer.
There’s nothing wrong with a traditional hooded dryer either.
6. Use moisturizing leave-in conditioners and styling products
Leave-in conditioner is an excellent product for when your hair just needs a pick-me-up during the week. Especially when you feel your hair is starting to dry out, but it’s not yet time to wash it. Use a drop of leave-in conditioner to bring your hair back to life. Some good ones includes Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength Divine Strength Leave-in Cream and SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-in Conditioner.
For more information about leave-in conditioners and which ones to try, please read this complete guide on the best leave-in conditioners.
7. Use heavier oils and butters to seal your hair
Thicker products are better for use in the winter for helping minimize the amount of moisture that seeps from your hair due to the chilly air. Just make sure to use a clarifying shampoo on your wash day to avoid product buildup, as these thick butters can get heavy on the hair. Remember: a little goes a long way.
8. Use thicker creams and feel free to switch out your products
For those harsh winters and dry bitter air, we need something a little thicker than we’re used to. A little goes a long way with thick creams, but they work much better for the winter months.
There are many ways we can protect our hair from being dried out during the winter. Our hair will occasionally get dry. That’s inevitable, but there are many things we can do to reverse it before too much damage occurs.
9. Minimize blow dryers and flat irons
It’s no secret that heat styling can cause a lot of damage to natural hair, and using it too much can cause a ton of breakage. This is something you need to do very little. Or treat yourself once in a while to a salon visit and let the professionals do it.
They know the best ways to protect our hair from heat damage and have our hair look good and last a while. Unless you’re using them on your wigs and not your natural hair, just put the blow dryers and flat irons down this winter.
10. Consider using a humidifier if you live in a dry region with a harsh winter
Humidifiers are great for adding moisture to the air when it’s especially dry. Dry air can have adverse effects on your hair and your skin or cause your throat to feel dry.
There are so many elements that can cause damage and dryness to our hair; we don’t need to worry about the air in our homes affecting it too! Consider investing in a humidifier if you live in a dry area or an area where the winters get really harsh.
11. Avoid wash n gos, twist-outs, afro puffs, etc.
Try not to manipulate your hair too much during this period. We don’t need to do low manipulation styles too often during the winter because our hair is mainly covered by hats anyway—no point in ruining a nice style with a beanie.
Try to manipulate your hair as little as possible outside of your wash-day routine. Avoid doing these styles too much during the winter.
12. Wear low manipulation and protective styles
So that your hair can retain moisture longer and breakage can be reduced. Avoid wearing loose hairstyles.
Protective styles are great, especially for the more harsh winters. They are much more beneficial than low manipulation styles, but low manipulation styles work just as well in instances where protective styles are not doable, Just make sure not to do styles that will cause too much tension or damage. Braids are a great low manipulation and protective style as they lock moisture in a lot better than other styles do.
13. Use alcohol-free gels
Gel is a great product for adding hold and shine and enhancing our natural curl pattern. However, some gels on the market dry out our hair and cause it to flake due to the alcohol included in the ingredients. Alcohol can be very drying, and using too much of it will lead to breakage. Luckily, there are plenty of alcohol-free gels available.
14. Be mindful of your edges when protective styling or laying down.
Minimize buns and any styles that strain on your edges
Too much tension on your edges can lead to hair loss and traction alopecia, so be careful when laying your edges and try not to do it too often. If you’re getting a protective style done, make sure to ask to have your edges left out. Protective styles can be heavy and pull hair at the root. Tight styles in general should be avoided or minimized to avoid this.
15. Trim your hair at the beginning of the season
Getting your hair trimmed is essential to retaining length and keeping your hair healthy, so don’t skip them! This will cause split ends that will keep splitting all the way up the hair shaft and will mean a longer cut in the future. Every six weeks is typically a reasonable amount of time to go for a trim.
16. Protect your hair with satin lined winter hats when outdoor
It may be tempting to throw any winter hat on when rushing out the door in the morning, but one thing to keep in mind is that cotton or wool hats can rub against the hair to absorb moisture away from it and cause frizz.
Satin-lined hats are more friendly to the hair and doesn’t rub against it to cause dry hair. If you already have a few beanies you don’t want to throw away, you can just wear a satin bonnet or silk scarf before throwing a beanie on. You can also sew a satin bonnet into your favorite winter hats, so you won’t have to wear double head gears when heading out.
17. Stay hydrated
Drink water! Drinking water keeps your body hydrated, which will keep blood circulating. Good blood flow to the scalp helps with length retention. Aim for at least 8 cups of water a day. Or try a half-gallon of water if you think you can drink that much.
You may be running to the bathroom all day, but at least you’ll be adequately hydrated. If you’re not a plain water drinker, you can add fresh fruits to give it a sweet taste. It’s much healthier than sugary drinks or sodas.
18. Eat healthily
Garlic and onion are allegedly foods that can help our hair grow! Incorporate more of those in your diet, and see if your hair starts growing! It may sound weird, but eating healthy can keep our hair healthy as well. What you put into your body is just as important as what you put on your head to help your hair.
Cut down on junk food and snacks and see how healthy your hair will start looking. Many foods like fruits and vegetables possess all kinds of nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy and promote growth in areas like our hair and nails. It also just makes us feel good inside and out.
19. Stay active
Like diet, exercise is also essential to our health and growth. They go hand in hand. Staying active, even if it’s just walking more, keeps us in tip-top shape and keeps our bodies working inside and out.
Staying active helps our hair because of the blood pumping in our bodies due to adrenaline. Adequate blood flow is vital for our whole body, including the way our hair grows.
20. Microfiber towels
The fibers in regular towels can snag our hair and cause more of it to be pulled out than usual. It’s best for natural to avoid regular towels and invest in microfiber towels.
Microfiber is an absorbing, moisture-wicking fabric that is great for our hair. It doesn’t snag or pull hairs out of our heads or cause knots. Microfiber also allows our hair to dry a lot faster, which is helpful on those days that we’re in a rush.