Cold air, indoor heating and hot tools team up in winter to create the perfect storm for dry hair and sensitive scalps. Here are some tips to minimise problems.
Loss of moisture
"Longer periods of time spent indoors may cause hair to become dehydrated and appear dull, dry and brittle," says Diane Shaskey, national education manager for Matrix. Windy weather is no friend to hair either. Regular conditioning treatments are key, as are daily leave-in conditioners with UV protection, since the winter sun can still cause damage.
Andrea Tolmie, stylist and trainer for Rodney Wayne, shares a tip for getting the most from your conditioning product: "First squeeze the moisture out of your hair after shampooing. Twist the product into your hair and really push it in. Then you'll need less conditioner." Applying conditioning onto sopping wet hair merely dilutes its powers.
"Our scalps are drier in winter. We tend also not to drink as much water," says Tolmie. "If your scalp is sensitive and flaky, this might not be dandruff, but dehydration."
She recommends avoiding harsh shampoos (try going sulphate-free), not rubbing too much at the scalp and thoroughly rinsing out shampoo.
Shaskey adds that regular brushing is key, especially when hair spends large periods of time hidden under hats.
"[This] is recommended to stimulate the scalp and ensure an even distribution of naturally occurring oil is distributed down the hair shaft.
Without brushing, oil build-up may cause irritation."
As Shaksey mentioned, winter hair is often neglected and stuffed under a beanie. Outdoor sports call for ponytails and braids, but these can also put stress on the hair and scalp. To avoid damaging your hair, keep it soft and pliable. "Use a leave-in conditioning cream on your ponytail or plait," advises Tolmie.
And avoid too-tight styles. "Excessive tension can cause stress to the hair fibre and may cause breakage. Keep updos and braids loose and casual," says Shaskey. Relaxed fishtail braids are right on trend.
Flyaways and frizz
For those with thick and curly hair, it's often too cold to spend the day air-drying, even though that's what yields the best frizz-free result. "A diffuser affixed to the blow-dryer is the best remedy against frizz," advises Shaskey, who also recommends using heat-styling protectant.
Another, admittedly pricier, option for curly-haired girls is an in-salon straightening treatment such as Keratin Complex.
"Formulas have changed these days," points out Tolmie.
Today, the process is beneficial rather than detrimental to hair - it puts a protective shell of keratin around the hair fibre, which gradually either wears off or grows out.
"You don't have to turn your hair stick straight," she adds. "The weaker version of the formula will just get rid of those little fluffies around the hairline and eliminate frizz."