As the mercury dips, it’s not only your extremities that suffer – your hair takes a battering too. To help mitigate winter’s wrath, we’ve consulted the experts for fail-safe tips to bear in mind during the time of year when you might flake (no, that isn’t snow on your head) more than usual.
Flaking, itchiness and dryness happen for numerous reasons, but not necessarily just because it’s colder. “Cold weather in itself does not have a lasting effect on the structure of the hair or the health of strands,” says Anabel Kingsley, leading trichologist at Philip Kingsley, but it’s the things which are well within your control that could affect its life and lustre throughout the colder months.
Get Your Diet In Check
According to Kingsley (and unfortunately for Christmas gluttons), seasonal changes to diet can pose problems. During winter, you’re more likely to have worse eating habits than in the summer – if you’re anything like us, your winter diet is more carb-rich but light on fresh fruit and veg, you’re much more partial to a takeaway and, with party season in full swing, you find it hard to say no to a pint.
But it’s not just your waistline that’ll take a hit. “Your hair could suffer if you are not [getting] nutrient-rich foods on a regular basis,” says Kingsley. So, be aware of what you’re putting in your mouth. Make sure you get as many of your five-a-day as possible, and for god’s sake man – put down that ninth mince pie.
Fight Temperature Fluctuations
Hair is more likely to frizz in the winter due to movement between different temperatures, like walking from heated buildings into the chilly outdoors. “When moisture in the atmosphere penetrates into the hair shaft, it causes weak bonds within the hair which change shape, so individual strands kink, stick out and fly-away,” says Kingsley.
How to tame the Sideshow Bob effect? First, avoid straightening your hair as this will only expose it to more frizz-causing extreme temperatures. If your hair’s particularly unruly, Kingsley recommends that you “use products that smooth the cuticle and form a barrier between your hair shaft and water in the air”. This will help keep the moisture locked in.
Philip Kingsley Preen Cream, available at Philip Kingsley, priced £19.
It’s common knowledge that we’re more prone to feel stressed out during colder, darker months when you can’t even remember what sun on your skin feels like. But freak out about the freeze and you’ll trigger a whole host of hair-raising problems, including dandruff, scalp itchiness and greasiness.
To combat this, Kingsley suggests using an anti-microbial, astringent scalp toner every day to help prevent sebum build-up. However, this is treating the symptoms, not the cause, so you’ll also need to tackle stress at its root. “Try managing your stress levels with activities such as yoga, Pilates, Mindfulness or light exercise,” says Kingsley. Just another reason to add a gym membership to that Christmas wish list.
Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner, available at Philip Kinglsey, priced £19.50.
It’s a pain – especially in sub-zero conditions – but as cosy as hats keep your head in winter, they aren’t actually that helpful for keeping your hair in good nick. Wearing them too much can make your hair greasy and your scalp sweaty and itchy.
To restore volume to your post-hat hair, as well as refresh your scalp, apply a dry shampoo to the roots of your hair, leave for five minutes and then gently brush through. Make sure you check the labels as the best versions contain ingredients that benefit the scalp, like Zinc PCA (which helps to regulate sebum production and prevent flakes), Allantoin (a soothing agent) and Bisabolol (an anti-inflammatory ingredient).
Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo, available at Lookfantastic, priced £14.
Key Winter Hairstyles
Now you know how to take care of your hair in the cold, here’s how to style it. We spoke to Joe Mills, founder of Joe and Co. to figure out the best cold-weather cuts and finishes.
Mid-Length, Textured Hair
Mills’ first suggestion is to opt for “a textured mid-length hairstyle,” which will, no doubt, be less of a hassle to keep in check in rain, wind and snow. Here’s some tips on how to style and maintain it:
- Applying a pre-styling product, such as a mousse or salt spray, to towel-dried hair will ensure additional volume and hold.
- To style, blow-dry the hair, then apply a matte paste with your hands – “nothing too slick,” warns Mills, “as this type of style needs to have texture to suit rugged winter clothes like collared coats and chunky knits”.
- Use a decent conditioner (which contains the least chemicals possible) on a regular basis and make sure your hair is totally dry before you leave the house to avoid flakiness.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to fuss too much with products and styling, try a shorter look: ‘The Suede’. “Think a slightly out-grown GI crop,” advises Mills.
It’s a short clippered-and-scissored cut that’s ideal for the colder months as it doesn’t require much maintenance. But, again, it’s important to use a high-quality shampoo and conditioner to keep the hair moisturised and prevent flaking.
This style should be left as natural as possible, but if your hair looks a little fluffy once washed and dried, apply a dry finishing product such as a clay for more of a matt lustre. It’s also worth booking in with your barber every three or four weeks for tidy-ups to keep the style looking on point.