Winter can be a trying time for natural hair. With coarse winds, rain and snow, natural hair is basically under attack. I don’t think I am the ultimate authority when it comes to natural hair- as you heard in one of my previous pieces, "The Struggle: My Hair" I’ve only been natural for a year or so. (Heavy on the or so)
So I’m just going to give a few simple tips for managing natural / mixed hair in the wintertime. This is just a bit of the information that I’ve gleaned over my 18 years of having mixed hair.
1. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!!
This is the cardinal rule for any naturalista. Your hair will probably get dry and brittle in the cold. Alyssa Nealy, writer for redplum.com writes, “Cold winter weather literally pulls moisture out of your hair, leaving you with extreme dryness that can sometimes lead to dandruff” (Nealy). So what’s a girl/guy to do? I have one magical word for you, Oil.
Each type of oil has a different strong suit. There's Argan oil which is great for hydration, Moroccan oil, which nourishes your hair and scalp, Castor Oil, which thickens follicles (I’ve heard Jamaican Castor Oil is like magic) and there's Coconut Oil, which is the oil equivalent to Jesus. There's tons more types of oils like Grapeseed Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, and Almond Oil. Each one has a different quality that could be useful for you, especially during the winter time. When those coarse winds start up, it's important to know which oils are most effective for your hair. Personally, I use Moroccan Oil and Coconut Oil. I always make sure not to overdo it on the oil, because then you're left with greasy hair. Just use enough that your hair will be sealed to perfection when you're outside in the cold.
2. Deep Condition At Least Every Third Wash
So again- this is information that has applied well for my hair type. Not guaranteeing the exact same results on your hair. That being said, I’ve found that deep conditioning my hair every third wash has done miracles. Each deep conditioner has a different purpose, so try to find one that applies directly to your haircare needs. Dry hair? Find a moisturizing deep conditioner. Curls looking a little limp? Find a conditioner that rejuvenates your curl pattern. I dyed my hair in early August, so in order to combat color damage I use Shea Moisture’s Deep Repairing Masque. Deep conditioning natural hair is different from regular hair conditioning. I wash my hair one to two times a week using a coconut co-wash and Aussie Moist conditioner in one of those big pump containers for $5 a bottle, and while it does moisturize my hair, it doesn’t do much for color repair. (Which I need) Courtney Bradshaw, my No. 1 Natural Hair Expert (and, unrelatedly one of my best friends) added, "Curly hair is naturally very dry because the oils in our hair don't reach the entirety of our follicles like it can for straight hair. No moisture means brittle, damaged hair. What a deep conditioner does is it basically puts all the moisture and oils in your hair that are needed for it to thrive." See what I mean? She knows her stuff.
3. Protective Styles are Always A Plus
First, what is a protective style? My No. 1 Natural Hair Expert Courtney defined protective styles as, "A way of wearing your hair, either in a long or short term state, that keeps it safe from harmful elements that would damage it, like flat ironing, too much manipulation, tugging, pulling, or snagging." Protective styles are a really great, low maintenance way of protecting your hair in the winter time. This is coming from a girl who has only had two protective styles in her life. The first was Marley twists (which my dad thinks was an epic fail, but I still think they were cute- let me know what you think in the comments) and the second was weave (glorious weave) that I wore for prom. Protective styles prevent breakage, improve hair health, and they can give you a break during that hectic finals season (Tamara). While my Marley twists weren’t exactly a hit with my dad, no one can deny my hair grew like a weed during those two months. There are so many cute protective styles! I cannot stress it enough. Don't be afraid they won't look good on you, because there are so many to choose from. Here are some pictures of my friends with protective styles that look amazing!
Among them you’ll see Marley twists, regular braids, faux locks, and Havana twists.
The winter time seems to be in direct opposition with natural hair. Mortal enemies, duking it out until the end of time. Yinning and Yanging one another. But don't fret, because once you finally conquer the winter time, you can conquer anything.
Neely, Alyssa. "4 Bad Things Cold Weather Does to Your Hair." 4 Bad Things Cold Weather Does to Your Hair. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2015.
Tamara. "Why You Should Protective Style." Natural Hair Rules. N.p., 11 June 2013. Web. 22 Dec. 2015.
* Special thanks to Courtney for her knowledge on natural hair, otherwise my works cited would've been a page and a half long.