If you’re experiencing brittle ends and tresses that refuse to hold on to moisture, you probably aren’t imagining it. Dry hair and cold winter weather are unfortunately close acquaintances.
Cash Lawless, a celebrity hairstylist and revered hair industry expert, told HuffPost that this is due to a greater amount of negative ions in the air causing increased exposure to friction damage, making your hair appear frizzier or more coarse.
“Static reaction occurs when the negatively charged hair strands encounter the negatively charged cold air and begin to repel one another, causing static frizz,” Lawless said.
He also explained that if the cuticles that surround and protect each hair strand are unsealed, your hair is susceptible to moisture loss and will have a greater reaction to the negative ions more present in winter.
Fazia Frederick, a top New York-based hair stylist for Glamsquad, said that arid winter temps also mean less humidity in the air, potentially impacting hydration levels.
“The cold weather also makes hair more prone to breakage in particular, resulting in split ends and a flaky scalp,” Frederick said.
Both Frederick and Lawless said that the best defense we have against hair damage, especially during the winter, is prevention and protection. “Reducing exposure to extreme heat, chemicals and friction can help ensure your new growth doesn’t experience the same thing your old hair does,” Lawless said.
Frederick also suggested shampooing only once or twice a week and using a hydrating mask to maintain moisture.
Jon Reyman, owner and cut director of Spoke & Weal salons, added that going outside with wet hair in cold weather is a cardinal sin in the book of hair health.
“Usually in colder weather, hair stays wet for longer as the cold doesn’t have the evaporative power of heat. When hair is wet, it’s at its weakest and most vulnerable condition, which leads more easily to damage and breakage,” Reyman said. “When water crystalizes, water expands. Crystallization happens when the temperature is below freezing. If hair is wet, the expansion puts pressure on the hair cuticle and causes damage.”
For the best products in hair protection and moisture retention, see what these hair experts recommended below for achieving more manageable, silky and winter-proofed locks.
A shampoo and conditioner that contains positively charged ions
A leave-in conditioner with moisture-attracting ingredients
A set of styling tools that minimize heat damage
A highly absorbent hair towel so you spend less time under the hair dryer
A reparative hair treatment that protects the entire strand
A daily leave-in creme to improve softness and manageability
A travel-sized kit to help achieve a protective style and defined curls
An oil-finishing spray that can protect your hair from UV damage
A restorative styling serum that protects hair from heat damage
An overnight hair mask that you don’t need to wash out in the morning
A long-barreled curling iron that can keep hair silky and seal the hair cuticle
A lightweight pre-shampoo oil for a hydrated scalp
A conditioning dry shampoo to avoid over-washing your hair