It is never easy to maintain your hair in its best shape during the winter months. There are some common hair issues in wintertime that almost everyone experiences.
You might like the cold, dry air, harsh weather, and everything that winter brings; but it can also undermine your hair health to some extent.
You may find your scalp becoming flakier, your hair strands experiencing more static charges or becoming more prone to breakage and drying, and possibly, you might also get more hair shedding.
In this article, we are going to introduce to you the most common problems that bring everyone (and maybe even you!) a headache in trying to maintain hair wellness during the cold season.
The blistering winter cold usually comes with several problems for your hair health like scalp dryness, hair breakage, static electricity in your hair, and vitamin D deficiency.
To deal with those issues, you need to intensively moisturise your hair, avoid chemical and heat treatments on your hair, eat vitamin D-rich food, and finally, take vitamin supplements if needed and under the advice of your doctors.
The way you wash and maintain your hair altogether will decide the extent of your hair problems in winter.
Try to avoid synthetic fibers and use hair products that will keep your hair conditioned. Be more considerate when taking care of your hair during the cold months by avoiding tight hairstyles.
Drier air, drier hair, and scalp
During wintertime, the air humidity tends to be lower in certain parts of the world. It is so low that it readily absorbs any moisture around, including moisture from your skin and hair.
As a result, one of the most common hair issues in wintertime is that your hair moisture gets consumed by the dry air, leaving it drier and brittle. In extreme cases, you may also experience significant hair shedding.
In the same way, your scalp is prone to become dehydrated during the winter. You might notice a flaky scalp due to such dehydration even though you haven’t changed a thing in your hair care routine. (We'll tell you more about flaky scalps another time!)
To deal with this situation, you might need to pay more attention to your hair care routine.
In winter, using warm or hot water for washing is great but water at these temperatures would only dry your hair and scalp further.
Read more: Does Washing Hair Everyday Cause Hair Loss?
Remember to apply a super hydrating shampoo and conditioner to increase moisturisation for your hair. Leave-in conditioners or hair masks may be another option to provide extra nourishment for your hair.
Here's an important, small tip: you could use your hair conditioner as a hair mask and leave it on for around 15 minutes before rinsing!
Since it's cold, the best way to dry your hair is through air drying or blow-drying with the cool setting. Since it does not impose extreme heat directly on the scalp and hair, you can effectively retain the moisture while having clean and dry hair before going outside.
Additionally, brushing your hair to a gentle degree is recommended since it is prone to being drier and thus, more fragile.
Hair breakage during winter
Besides dryness, breakage comes along with the blistering cold. Hair breakage can happen due to diverse factors during the winter:
- Low humidity
- Dry hair
- Dry scalp
- Heat damage from hair dryers or straighteners
Keep your hair away from chemical treatments such as colouring, bleaching, or lightening as much as possible to keep your hair strands in good shape during this season.
The winter weather is too cold and dry, so if your hair gets damaged from such treatments, it will need a much longer time to recover than normal.
You might also need to be more considerate when styling your hair this season. Putting your hair up in a bun or braid, twisting strands too tightly, or using rubber bands can put extra strain on your hair.
Any activities that twist, pull or apply intensive physical force on your hair tightly and aggressively will lead to hair breakage, even more so in wintertime.
Wash your hair sparingly this season. You don't have to shampoo every day and if you like to keep your hair clean, opt for warm beanies and scarves. Not only will they keep you warm, your hair will also be shielded from pollutants.
When it comes to wintertime wash days, we like using a particular shampoo. Remember how we told you that hair is more prone to breakage this season and how it will be harder to wash your hair?
It cleanses hair gently while nourishing it at the same time. It doesn't contain any artificial fragrances, but it does leave your hair with a pleasant eucalyptus scent. A cool scent for the cold season!
Winter static electricity
If you have mid-length or long hair, static electricity might become one of your hair struggles in winter. Hair gets full of static in the wintertime due to a lack of moisture in the air.
Static electricity gives you the “hair-raising” look with more fly-away hairs. While it makes for a cool science lesson or a funny conversation topic, you probably won't want it anywhere near when you're having your pictures taken during the holidays.
How exactly does static electricity build up in your hair?
The friction between your hair and another object, a hat, for instance, will cause electric charge build-up. If the air is humid, the charge can usually just go away.
Read more: Does Wearing A Hat Cause Baldness?
However, due to the extreme dryness of the winter air, such static remains and accumulates in your hair, causing hair strands to resist each other and separate, creating that "hair-raising".
In addition, the heat from your winter apparel and outerwear will attract your electric-charged hair and cause even more fly-away strands. Here are some common objects that could worsen hair static:
- Metal and nylon hair brushes
- Wool scarves and coats
- Leather apparel
- Objects made from synthetic fibers
You could also consider other anti-frizz or ionic hair products to eliminate the electric charge like:
- Hair spray
- Hair oil
- Hair gel
- Hair cream
- Hand cream (if you don't have any hair products on hand!)
However, keeping your hair moisturised is the best solution. In wintertime, it is always a good idea to use more conditioner than usual.
I recommend this Hair Recovery Conditioner which conditions hair without it getting it too greasy and compromising hair volume.
Because the last thing you'd want this winter is flat and greasy-looking hair which makes it look like you haven't showered at all!
Vitamin D deficiency
Be careful as you might experience nutritional deficiencies in wintertime, especially vitamin D deficiency. Since daytime is relatively short during winter, there is a lack of sunlight, and consequently, a lack of catalyst to activate the Vitamin D in our bodies.
Besides helping with the well-being of your bones, teeth and muscles, vitamin D also impacts hair health critically. Impaired vitamin D function will lead to defective stem cell renewal and loss of the hair follicle cycle.
Apart from that, an optimum concentration of vitamin D is essential to delay aging and hair loss.
There is also a significant association between the degree of vitamin D deficiency and the duration of hair loss: the longer duration of hair loss, the more severe the vitamin D deficiency with an invert elevation of alkaline phosphatase and being more symptomatic.
Read more: Amino Acids For Hair: The Basics
To prevent this deficiency, you might need to notice more what you eat daily. There is a wide range of food that could readily provide a good amount of vitamin D for your body, such as:
- Fish like salmon and tuna
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
It is also worth trying fortified foods like:
- Fish oil
- Fortified milk
- Breakfast cereals
- Orange juice
- Soy drinks
- Dairy products like yoghurt and cheese
All of the foods listed above are good sources to boost vitamin D intake in your body. Vitamin supplements might be helpful, but you should always consult your doctor first before deciding on taking any supplements.
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- Dhaher, & H Alwan, M. (2020). Role of Vitamin D in Female Pattern Hair Loss Among Iraqi Women: A Case-Control Study. The Medical Journal of Basrah University, 38(2), 55–64. https://doi.org/10.33762/mjbu.2020.127206.1026
- Gerkowicz, Chyl-Surdacka, K., Krasowska, D., & Chodorowska, G. (2017). The Role of Vitamin D in Non-Scarring Alopecia. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(12), 2653–. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18122653
- Liyanage, D.; Sinclair, R. Telogen Effluvium. Cosmetics 2016, 3, 13. https://doi.org/10.3390/cosmetics3020013
- Quist, S.R., Quist, J. Keep quiet—how stress regulates hair follicle stem cells. Sig Transduct Target Ther 6, 364 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41392-021-00772-4