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How to winterize your curls: Winter hair care

Every year when the mercury plummets, stylist Jonathan Torch starts getting the calls from unhappy clients. Almost overnight, their curls become droopy and dry, flat and flyaway. Holy grail products and tried-and-true styling techniques stop working as well. Find out how to get your curls winter-ready.

Curly Haired Woman

Revive your curls

“When it turns cold, it’s like a switch turns on,” says Torch of Toronto, Canada-based Curly Hair Solutions. “Everyone says ‘I can’t do anything with my hair.’ Their routine changes overnight.”

Wwhether your curls know it or not, they actually rely on the heat and humidity moisture from the summer for body and bounce.

To counteract the climate changes, stylists recommend extra conditioning, using less product and tweaking the cut to bring back life to limp ringlets.


At night, to preserve curls, put it up in pin curls. For kinkier, tighter hair, twist it with pomade,” says Diane Da Costa, author of Textured Tresses.


“I always like to change my clients’ color, cuts and products with the seasons,” says Jason Yates, creative director of Houston-based Farouk Systems, manufacturer of the Biosilk line, as well as, CHI heat-styling products.”Their hair texture changes, their skin tone changes and their mood changes. As a hairdresser, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity if you don’t respond to that.”

Moisturize your locks

Deep conditioning is vital for parched winter locks. Most stylists recommend deep conditioning at least once a week. Choose a moisturizer rich in humectants and natural oils.

“I see a drastic change in the dryness of the scalp and hair immediately when the climate changes,” says stylist Diane Da Costa, author of Textured Tresses.

Da Costa recommends massaging the scalp with light oils like jojoba or shea butter. Don’t shampoo as often since that can deplete natural oils. If you normally shampoo every three days, shampoo once a week during the winter. To freshen curls, spray them with a lavender mist.


“Massage a quarter teaspoon of warm natural oil — olive, avocado, jojoba, etc. — through your hair once a week at night, starting at the end and working up to the roots. Leave on overnight,” says Mahisha Dellinger of CURLS.


A humidifier can help by adding moisture to the air, which cuts down on static. Da Costa also recommends drinking a lot of water for internal hydration.

Snip regularly

Regular trims every eight to 10 weeks are important in the winter to get rid of parched ends and give the curls more bounce.

“As the weather gets dry, so do your ends,” says Dona Polston, a member of ABBA Pure & Natural Hair Care’s artistic team.”There’s nothing worse than frizzy, flyaway ends.”

Stylists agree that winter is the time to get creative with your curls. The styles can be shorter and edgier. Texturizing the hair can add volume and movement.


Leave a little conditioner in the ends,” says Jane Carter of the Jane Carter Solution.



lay off the heat and product

When at all possible, avoid excessive heat styling with appliances such as blowdryers or straightening irons. If you do have to use a dryer, use low heat.

Air dry as often as you can, but make sure that hair isn’t wet when leaving the house. In cold weather, it can freeze, causing breakage, says Mahisha Dellinger, creator of the CURLS haircare line.

“The less you deal with styling tools, the better off you’ll be,” Polston says.

With styling products, less is more in the winter months. Use light products that don’t way down your hair with greasy ingredients.


 “I encourage using products with a little more hold. People who don’t need gel in the summer may start using it in the winter to keep their curls looking fresh,” says Torch.


Antonio Soddu, creator of the CurlFriends line of products, suggests using products that enhance volume rather than those that weigh the hair down — a practice that may run counter to what curls usually do.

Always make sure to apply the product in sections when the hair is wet for best results.

Experiment with color

With the change in climate, tweaking hair color also is important. Stylists recommend deeper more vibrant shades with more dimension, such as caramels, butterscotches, auburns, coppers and rich browns. Curly hair looks shinier and richer when it’s darker, Soddu says. Lighter hair tends to show more damage.


 “Condition hair before and after you color it. Your hair won’t feel so dry,” says Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue Salon.



More haircare from SK:

Hair 911: I have split ends

How to use a diffuser

Get healthy hair with herbs

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