Wednesday, November 20, 2013

5 Tips for Protecting Your Hair This Winter

If the winter season brings cold weather where you live, then you'll want to prepare to give your hair a little extra TLC. Here are 5 steps to help you keep your strands healthy and growing through the winter months.

Deep Condition I'm not the best at this step, but it's important. You know how in the summer months you can get away with using a thin lotion to keep your skin moisturized and in the winter you need to switch over to a heavier, creamier moisturizer so your skin doesn't dry out? Well much like your skin moisturizer, deep conditioning gives your hair the extra boost of moisture that it needs. Let's face it - with the harsh, cold air, the winter months can wreak havoc on our curls, kinks and coils, making them dry and brittle. And what does dry, brittle hair lead to? Tangles and breakage. No thank you! Overwhelmed by all the products out there and not sure where to start? Check out my video on my easy, inexpensive deep conditioner. Also, if your hair has permanent color in it, then deep conditioning isn't optional for you at any time of the year - it's always a must.
Puuddy's tightly coiled hair

Moisturizer There's no way around it - having a good quality moisturizer in your product arsenal is imperative to the health of your hair. Now, the type of moisturizer will largely depend on your curl pattern. Moisturizers come in a range of formulas, because no two curl patterns are alike. The tighter the curls, the more difficult it is for the natural moisturizer our scalps make - sebum - to make its way down our strands. This type of curl pattern will benefit from a heavier, creamier moisturizer (I like SheaMoisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie - beware: a little goes a loooong way). The looser the curls, the easier it is for sebum to moisturize the whole strand of hair, so this curl pattern only needs a light moisturizer, maybe one that comes in spray form. 

Seal Sealing is a step that is really important, especially for those of us with tighter, kinkier curls and coils. There are two ways you can seal: 1) with pH, and 2) with oils or butters. Back when I was setting my hair in a bijillion two-strand twists, I'd seal using the famous "Kimmaytube leave-in conditioner" (note that the original recipe calls for 2 tbsp of aloe vera leaf juice, not green tea). This conditioner acts as a sealant due to the pH of aloe vera leaf juice, one of its main ingredients. This juice is all natural and has a pH that is very close to the natural pH of the scalp and hair - between 4.5 and 5.5. Without getting too deep (let's face it, chemistry wasn't my best subject anyway) when a product falling into that pH range touches our hair, it closes the cuticles of the hair strand, locking in moisture and protecting the strand from tangling and mechanical (comb/brush) damage. So if you think about it, when you apply the Kimmaytube conditioner to your wet hair, you're sealing in the moisture from the water. The result? Soft, shiny, healthy and moisturized hair! The second way to seal is to use oil. Your curl pattern, moisture needs and personal preferences will dictate whether you use a light or heavy oil. My coils are looser than my oldest daughter's coils, so I can get away with using a lighter oil - such as jojoba - to seal. But her hair requires a heavier oil - such as extra virgin olive oil - to effectively lock in moisture, soften her hair and keep it tangle-free.
My curls in the front and back are
loose and wavy
Puuddy's hair with the yarn twist
extensions I installed this summer
Protective Styling This is a term that is talked about a lot in the natural hair community, but what does it actually mean? Protective styling is any style that requires as little manipulation as possible. Less manipulation = less opportunity to damage your strands. In my mind there are two categories of protective styles: with and without the addition of faux/human hair or yarn. But whether you're setting your hair in mini twists or Senegalese twists, you STILL need to SHAMPOO and MOISTURIZE regularly, especially if you're keeping the style in for weeks at a time. Protective styling doesn't mean set-it-and-forget-it. This is really important if you've added hair or yarn to your hair. If you don't keep your hair and scalp clean then lint and dirt will cause build-up that you'll be removing for DAYS maybe even WEEKS after you've taken down the style. Plus, dirt and product build-up on your scalp hinders growth. And if you don't moisturize, then the faux/human hair and yarn will draw all the moisture out of your hair, which can lead to breakage. 

Puuddy's hat that I lined two
winters ago

Lined Hats Lastly, if you're going to wear a hat then make sure it is lined with satin or a satin-like material such as a polyester blend. If your hat isn't lined then I wouldn't wear it at all. Seriously. You can find vendors on Etsy that sell handmade, good quality lined hats (if you need a hat for your baby then I'd recommend this Etsy shop). But it doesn't stop at hats. One winter I learned a hard lesson when I discovered that my wool coat and scarf were causing terrible tangles and matting at the nape of my neck. But should we really freeze for the sake of preserving a few strands? No worries - you don't have to choose. Here's what I do: I still wear my wool coat BUT I make sure I wear a silk/polyester scarf so that it acts as a buffer between my hair and coat. VoilĂ ! You get to stay warm and protect your strands!

Work these tips into your regimen and wardrobe and you'll enjoy healthy, moisturized strands this winter!

~ How do you keep your hair healthy in the wintertime? ~

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