How To Care For Curly Hair In The Winter

Cold weather=dry strands

Illustrated by Sarah Lutkenhaus.

People with curly hair don't have it easy when it comes to dramatic shifts in the weather. Curly hair gets dry in the summer because of the heat, and even drier in the winter because of the cold (and lack of humidity). And don't just take my word for it! "When the temperatures outside dips low and the heat inside gets cranked up, there is less moisture in the atmosphere to supplement our strands," Jessica Fitzpatrick, DevaCurl educator, explains. "Contrary to my grandmother's belief, wet hair in the cold air won't give us a cold. It will, however, create the perfect environment for a drier scalp and brittle strands."

Despite the cards mother nature has dealt us, there are some steps you can take to make sure your curls stay intact this season. Read ahead to find out what they are.

Plan Ahead
The curly hair wash day is infamous. It's an arduous process because of the steps involved, but also because it takes a notoriously long time for curly hair to dry. This is fine in the summertime, when you can go outside in 80-degree weather, but come winter, unless you want your strands turning into icicles, Jessica O'Brien, curl specialist at Ouidad, recommends styling your hair the night before, or planning to do it on a morning when you know you're not going to be outside for a while.

She also suggests diffusing your hair if you're in a rush. She recommends getting a really wide diffuser, "and then I love to do the heat on high and the air on low," she says. "I dry my hair for maybe 10 minutes, and that gets it dry enough for me to leave the house without my scalp being wet."

Condition Often
"It's important that all curly hair is replenishing the moisture base with every step of their routine—cleanse, condition and style," Fitzpatrick recommends. "During the winter woes, it is crucial that we up the ante with the moisture in our routine by making time to deep condition and focus more on styling products rich in emollients such as DevaCurl's SuperCream." She recommends washing two to three times a week to replenish lost moisture. "Think of a fitness routine," she says. "More times in the gym, the quicker the results." She also recommends staying away from stylers that are rich in glycerin (like gels) "because it responds to the dry atmosphere by depleting the moisture in our hair—think: curly hair osmosis!"

Supplement Moisture Any Way You Can
Winter might be worse than summer in terms of moisture deficiency because, not only is it cold outside, but buildings have the heat blasting, which also dries things out when you're inside. Fitzpatrick recommends replenishing moisture where you can. Buy a humidifier for your home, lower the temperature of the water when you wash your hair, and utilize a hair steamer for refreshing curls.

Make Silk And Satin Products Your Best Friend
Silk bonnets, silk pillowcases, silk scarves—these are probably already staples in your home if you have curly hair. If not, they should be. "Silk and satin are much smoother on textures without creating additional friction, aka frizz, and won't absorb the natural oil from our strands creating more dryness like cotton does," Fitzpatrick says. And you know what most winter hats are made out of? Some version of cotton. Thankfully, there are brands out now that make satin-lined caps that won't dehydrate or tug on your curls.

Embrace Protective Styles
If you, like me by February, grow tired of scheduling your life around when you need to wash your hair, you can also opt for protective styles to give both you and your arms a break. Box braids, for example, are a good option and can last a couple of months. Fitzpatrick says that she's all about a twist-out or classic French braid. She recommends using a leave-in conditioner as a styler "to pack the punch for your protective style and deep condition along the way!"