5 Ways to Protect Your Hair during Winter Travel

Spa & Beauty — By on January 6, 2011 at 6:00 am

The not-so-sexy side of winter means chapped lips, flaky skin, and yes, static-prone tendrils. Harsh outdoor elements, indoor heating systems and certain styling tools can suck moisture right out of your hair. Here are five tips from haircare professionals on how to best protect your tresses while traveling during colder temperatures, inside and out.

1) Don’t overheat. If regular hair maintenance is a must on your journey, don’t overdo it with styling. Over styling with heat-based tools such as flat irons and curling irons are common problems during winter, says Allen Edwards, a celebrity stylist. Edwards recommends switching from using a flat iron to using Velcro rollers to give hair smoothness and volume. With styling, try to pick options that are less taxing on your hair, says Titi Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s Hair Care and an owner of the Miss Jessie’s Salon in New York City. If you require a blow dryer or flat iron, try using it only once a week. It’s the same with hairdryers, as the heat they generate to blow dry can damage hair, says Dr. Larry Shapiro, a hair loss expert. Use a cool air setting instead.

2) Turn down the temp. A hot shower after a chilly outing sounds inviting, but it can be unfriendly to your locks. Washing hair in extremely hot water is also damaging so try moderate temperatures instead, says Branch. If you need to crank up the hot water dial do this while having a deep conditioner in your hair and a plastic cap on. Turn the dial back down when rinsing the conditioner out. Being an outdoorsy person can lead to more frequent hair washing. Try to use a non-suds-ing shampoo sometimes to help protect hair against drying from frequent shampooing, finds Branch. If your hair is oily, Branch says, maybe using this type once a week will be good. If your hair is dry, then use a non-suds-ing shampoo. Shapiro also points out that daily hair washing will dry out your locks. Instead, he says, wash it two to three times a week to leave in the natural oils.

3) Condition your tendrils overnight. Leave-in conditioner can give your hair needed TLC. Edwards says regular deep conditioning is a must this time of year as all types of hair can benefit. His advice: Coat hair with a deep conditioner, then fasten a shower cap or a plastic bag tightly over the hair, and sleep with it overnight. Rinse out in the morning. Also, says Branch, putting hair in styles that keep it out of the way–like a ponytail or quick bun—while using a leave in conditioner or conditioning balm for added protection will be helpful. And don’t forget about your scalp, which can become irritated by winter. Megan Atkinson, a stylist at Bella Bethesda Salon in Maryland, suggests for avoiding dry flaky scalp by getting hydrating and stimulating scalp treatments.

4) Cover your head outside. Whether you are hitting the slopes or stepping out in the cold, keep your head/hair covered. If you’re using a fleece or knit cap to cover your head, wrap a silk scarf on your hair first, says Branch. This will provide a protective barrier from your hat and an extra layer against the elements. Be sure to look for hats with a satin or silk lining, adds Branch. Wool, cotton and other fibers not only absorb moisture but also rub on the hair strands, which can be damaging. Hoods are also a great option. Shapiro recommends donning a cap made from cotton because the material breathes better.

5) Safely secure your hair. Using hair accessories to put your up-do in place? Another common way to secure hair when outside is with hair pieces. Atkinson advises securing hair with bobby pins or elastic bands that do not contain metal components. These pieces can cause breakage when they’re removed because hair becomes tangled or wrapped around the metal. Atkinson says to look for elastic bands wrapped only in fabric or small clear elastic bands which are perfect for the ends of a braid.

More Winter Hair Tips:

– Indoor heating systems pose an additional threat to hair since they distribute dry heat, says Branch.  A humidifier will help put moisture back into the air.

– As outdoor winter activities often occur in areas of high altitude, remember that the sun’s rays can cause color fading during these winter months, according to Atkinson. Use a UV protectant for your skin and hair or cover up with a hat. Also drink plenty of water to maintain hydration from the inside out.

– Be sure to schedule regular trims. These appointments will make sure damaged areas of the hair get trimmed back and makes your hair look healthier, shinier, and less damaged, says Edwards.

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