We love braids as a go-to protective style in the best of times. But when the temperature drops and the air gets dry, we see braids as a necessary part of healthy hair care. Here, we’ll walk you through 5 key ways to adjust your normal braids care routine to retain moisture this winter.
First, it’s key to understand what happens to hair in cold, dry weather. Dry, cold winter air can actually cause the cuticle to lift slightly. That kills any chance of your hair retaining moisture. And if you have the misfortune of getting caught in a stiff wind, your ends can get dry and frizzy, even while they’re in braids. Add on drying hats, scarves and collars, and it’s no wonder that this is considered the prime season for major damage.
Since it looks like winter won’t be going anywhere for at least a few months, now is the best time to settle on a winter hair routine. We’re talking about really babying your precious locks. You may have already made the important step of committing to your favorite protective style. Here are a few of our favorite tips for really babying your hair and scalp to protect them from winter’s worst:
1. Want to retain moisture this winter? Steam it!
Nothing moisturizes like water, and a good steam treatment is a real treat for both skin and hair. Steaming your hair can be as simple as skipping the shower cap when you take a shower. Loosely tie up any long braids and let your hair and scalp take in the steam. The key is to lock in that moisture as soon as you’re out of the shower.
2. Use lots of leave-in conditioner
Whatever leave-in conditioner you normally use, use a bit more to retain moisture in winter. Your parched hair needs conditioners to stay supple. Think about using a heavier, cream-based moisturizer during the season. Beware of glycerin-based products! Glycerin works by drawing moisture from the surrounding air to your hair. But because winter air is so dry, your hair may have more moisture than the surrounding air. The glycerin you add could actually draw moisture out of your hair.
3. Seal with an oil to retain moisture
Use a medium oil on your hair, smoothing along your braids with your hands. Oil on top of freshly steamed and moisturized hair is key to retain moisture this winter. If you have extensions, you only need to oil your hair to the length of your natural hair. Be sure to oil your exposed scalp where it’s parted to separate each braid section. It will soothe and stimulate skin that’s exposed to the cold, and keep your new growth supple. We like light-bodied almond oil or heavy Jamaican black castor oil for sealing and oiling the scalp. You can add a few drops of sweet orange or rose essential oil for a pick-me-up.
4. Deep condition overnight
We normally recommend weekly deep conditioning for coarse hair, but we like to step it up in winter. A moisturizing deep conditioner is better for supple hair than a protein conditioner in cold, dry weather.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve distributed the conditioner in your hair, wrap your hair in plastic wrap instead of using a shower cap. Tuck a paper towel under the plastic wrap at the nape of the neck to avoid uncomfortable drips. It’s easy to sleep on without the annoying sound of a shower cap in your ears all night!
5. Silk and satin are your best friends!
If you haven’t done it already, invest in a silk or satin pillowcase. Rather than leaching moisture from your hair and causing friction (we’re looking at you, cotton), silk lets your hair glide across the surface with no fear of breakage. Use it a line your hats and caps for extra protection.
How do you like to baby your hair in winter? Let us know!