Although you may be tempted to go for that "sleek", straight look this winter, proceed with caution. Especially if you are on a journey to longer, healthier hair where length retention is a must!
There's nothing wrong with blow drying or flat ironing in the colder months. However, you want to make sure you don't overdo it and that you take the necessary precautions to avoid dryness and breakage. Remember dryness = breakage and breakage = loss of length. We don't want dryness!
So, if our goal is moisture retention for length retention, what to we do if we want to wear our hair straight? Well, for starters, you may want to beef up your deep conditioning frequency in the winter time. I find that increasing my deep conditioning sessions from once per week to twice per week, helps to keep my hair well moisturized. Also, cowashing instead of shampooing can also help with moisture retention. I would still use my shampoo (sulfate free only), but instead of weekly, I'll change that to bi-weekly (every other week) in the fall/winter months. Adding a leave in conditioner is an absolute must for me when striving to keep my hair well moisturized. Add products that contain humectants to your regimen. These will help you to grab more moisture for your hair.
With any type of manipulation (combing, brushing, running fingers in your hair, twisting, braiding) you lose a little bit of protein. If you are chemically processed, you've lost more protein already than if you were natural. Add color treatment, more protein lost. Add HEAT into the mix and lose more protein! In any case, protein is very essential to preventing distress to your strands. Adding a protein treatment to your regimen before you blow dry/flat iron will help to minimize loss of protein by adding some resilience to your hair. Loss of too much protein will lead to breakage as well and we don't want that!
Whether blow drying first, or air drying then flat ironing, you need to protect those strands from the direct heat as much as possible. The most helpful aids? Heat protectants! Heat protectants help to prevent full heat transfer to the cortex of you hair. Check out The Natural Haven Bloom for the deeper science of it all. (I ABSOLUTELY LOVE-LOVE THIS BLOG SITE) Using heat causes degradation of your hair's protein. Heat protectants help to prevent physical damage and breakage during flat ironing /blow drying by coating the hair strands. Excellent heat protectants will contain ingredients such as dimethicone or other silicones. There are some claims that some natural oils, such as grape seed oil, may be good heat protectants due to their high smoke point. I choose to use a regular store bought heat protectant though. Just to be safe.
Your dryer/flat iron setting has a lot to do with your hair's thickness. If your hair is fine, you should choose a lower setting, however, thick hair doesn't necessarily mean you should go heat crazy and choose the highest settings. Remember, water naturally evaporates, even from hair. The more moisture that leaves your hair, the drier it becomes. Adding any type of heat increases the level of evaporation. Even if you use a heat protectant, if you overdo it with heat, you will dry out your hair. Remember, dryness can and often does lead to breakage. Breakage defeats length retention.
You want to minimize your heat usage as much as possible in the winter time. If you live in a cold climate, like myself, you most likely have your heat on in your house and car. Indoor heating also contributes to sucking the moisture from your hair. Please know I am not saying freeze you patooties off for the sake of long hair! Lol! I'm just saying, keep that fact tucked in the back of your mind the next time you consider reaching for the flat iron or blow dryer.
Take the winter season as an opportunity to practice your wet setting techniques. Sitting under a hood dryer is safer than directly applying heat to your hair via flat iron/blow dryer, although it is still heat. And whatever you do, please be sure your head is completely dry before you walk out of the house. (That's a mama speaking.) Or to play it safe, wear protective styles in the chilly season.
There you have it! That's all I can tell you about heat in the chilly season. If I think of anything else, I will surely update you. Ciao Bellas!
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