It might be nearly spring but the harsh winter weather has only just arrived! The icy winds contrasted with hot and dry central hearing can be cruel to curly hair so it is essential to revise your curly haircare regime. Not only is the weather terrible, increased heat styling from not leaving the house with damp hair (you’ll freeze!) will take its toll. Here are 8 steps help you to avoid breakage and keep your hair in good condition in the cold weather.
1. Pre-treat your hair and scalp
Pre-treatments set the foundation. It’s important to care for your scalp as a healthy scalp will yield healthy hair. Try an exfoliating scalp mask to soothe the scalp and get rid of flakes. Or you could do a weekly hot oil treatment to put the moisture back into your hair and scalp.
2. Check your cleanser
Check that your shampoo is nourishing, especially if you haven’t had the time to pre-treat your hair. I’ve made the mistake of thinking that it’s ok for shampoo to dry out my hair because the conditioner will fix it. This is not best way to care for curls. There are plenty of shampoos to choose from which have curl-friendly oils in them to condition as well as cleanse. You could even try a sulphate-free shampoo which tends to be gentler on your scalp and hair. The gentlest way to cleanse hair and stop it drying out at the shampoo stage is to use a cleansing conditioner to co-wash.
3. Always follow shampoo with a conditioner
The only exception to this rule is that if you’ve used a cleansing conditioner, you don’t always need to follow with a separate conditioner. If you haven’t used a cleansing conditioner, choose a rich conditioner which is suited to your hair texture be it fine, medium textured or thick. I like to towel dry my hair, apply the conditioner then leave it to sink in for about five minutes before rinsing out. This really does make a difference compared with rinsing it out straight away.
4. Use a masque
If your hair is particularly dry and you need to repair it, use a masque for an intense hit of moisture. I like to use a masque instead of conditioner for time saving reasons but it is possible to use one before conditioner or even after conditioner. Check the directions on the product for when to use it but as for how, again I like to towel dry my hair and then apply the masque, leaving it on for as long as the directions suggest.
5. Nourish and protect the hair
Before heat styling, use a protecting curl crème or leave-in conditioner. Follow with a heat protection spray. Direct heat can be incredibly damaging so I never put heat near my hair without protecting it first.
6. Heat styling with care
When heat styling, set your tools to the lowest setting required for your hair type. For example, if you have fine hair, there is no need to set your straighteners to 220 degrees. Your hair will probably straighten and curl on 160-180 degrees. The same goes for your hairdryer, curling tongs and wand. If the temperature is too high you’ll damage your hair unnecessarily.
7. Shield your hair from the elements
The wind and the cold is especially taxing on curly hair, whipping out all of the moisture you worked so hard to put in. If you have a hat that doesn’t destroy your natural volume, that’s a great way to protect hair from the wind and rain, as is a hooded coat.
8. Protectively style
Alternatively you could wear a protective style, shielding the hair from the elements, hat or no hat. For my fine hair that easily stretches, if it was long enough I could put it into a simple single twist, plait or bun, ensuring the ends are tucked away. As it is currently shoulder-length, I could play with Bantu knots and all-over two-strand twists. For thicker or shorter hair you might want to try Marley twists, box braids/braided extensions, cornrows, flat twists; the list goes on. The key thing to remember is whichever style you choose, make sure the ends are not exposed.
It’s all worth it to avoid breakage, split ends and frizz!