Chilly winter weather takes a toll on everything – your morning commute, your wardrobe (so long, tank tops!) and, most importantly, your skin and hair. That luxurious mane you were sporting all summer might suddenly seem dull and dry. Those tapered ends are suddenly splitting. When a change in degree results in a serious beating for your hair, here are a few ways to emerge into spring (almost) completely unscathed.
STEP 1: Early Prevention
Bust damage while you're still ahead: a good opening-season cut is a great way to get rid of slightly split ends now before blustery, bitter days take those minor splits and upgrade them to full-fledged breakage. The same goes for chemical processing: relaxing and coloring severely dries out hair, so better to touch up those roots right before the weather takes a nosedive and spend the next chilly month or two chemical-free.
STEP 2: Lock in Moisture
Sure, we all know that moisturizing is the key to healthy hair, but do we all follow it? It's okay – the humidity of summer leaves a lot of women forgetting that a little cream can be a truly amazing thing. A light styling cream keeps ends from drying and frizzing while also taming those strands of hair that seem determined to run away from the rest of your head. Treatment tip: If you've got a long, lazy Saturday or Sunday morning ahead of you, bless your hair to a sweet oil treatment at night by coating hair from root to tip in natural jojoba oil or an oil blend like Mizani Supreme Oil ($25, drugstores and salons everywhere), tying it up, then washing it out in the morning. To avoid making major grease stains on your pillow and sheets, wrap hair in plastic wrap or a shower cap before going to bed.
STEP 3: Beat buildup
All that extra moisturizing can cause serious product buildup, especially if you're only washing your hair every few days. At least once a week, try using a natural cleansing shampoo that's free of sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, a chemical that can strip hair of its natural oils and cause dry scalp. Don't worry – the lather factor is still the same. Just don't forget to condition after every shampoo!
STEP 4: Turn wool caps into silk wraps
Knitted hats and scarves may keep you warm, but they can create major damage to your hair. Take a lesson from Motions Celebrity Stylist Ursula Stephen
, who's responsible for many iconic Rihanna cuts: "If you're opting for a winter-proof wool hat this season, try to find something that is lined with silk or another fabric that isn't as rough. Or you can easily sew some silk fabric into your favorite hat at home!"
STEP 5: Tie it up!
Whoever said that a bun wasn't sexy? Says Stephen, "Make sure you're wearing your hair up in loose buns or rolls every once in a while. I like to think of these as protective hairstyles that keep the hair under wraps and shielded from the elements."
- Wavy and relaxed hair: Gather hair into a ponytail, twist, then wrap into a bun and secure with Ricky's NYC black rubber U-pins ($4.99 for 10, rickysnyc.com). The pin doesn't cause a hair dent like regular ponytail elastics do, and the bun creates sexy, voluminous waves when you pull the pin out.
- Short hair: Take a tip from Janet: after washing, smooth in a texture cream and air-dry, blow dry (if you're heading out) or brush down. Hair rules Kinky Curling Cream ($32, hairrules.com) is great for natural hair, while their Curly Whip cream ($32, hairrules.com) softens loose curls. Follow up with Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum ($20, drugstore.com) to boost shine and cut down on drying time.
- Naturally Curly: Skip the gel – those water-heavy balms will do nothing but contribute to your hair's dryness! Avoid crunchy curls by smoothing in a creamy balm. Phytospecific Beauty Styling Cream ($23.99, rickysnyc.com) is made specifically for our hair (natural or relaxed), and soothes the scalp while holding hair down. Just smooth some in at the roots, brush hair into a ponytail, and leave curls loose or pin into a messy bun and secure with an elastic headband for a look that's cute but doesn't look too complicated.