It is never easy to maintain your hair in its best shape during the winter months. The cold, dry air, harsh weather, and everything that winter brings can undermine your hair health to some extent. You may find your scalp flaky, your hair strands experience static charges or become more breakable and drier, and possibly more hair shed. Through this article, we would like to introduce you to the most common problems that may bring you a headache in sustaining your hair wellness during the cold season.
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, 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 would tell you more about flaky scalp in another talk!)
To deal with this situation, you might need to pay more attention to your hair care routine. Applying super hydrating shampoo and conditioner is desirable to increase moisturisation for your hair. Leave-in conditioners or hair masks may be another option to provide extra nourishment for your hair. One small tip, you could use your hair conditioner as a hair mask and leave it on for around 15 minutes before rinsing. Using warm water for washing is great when hot water would further dry your hair and scalp.
The best way to dry your hair is air drying or blow-drying with low heat. Since it does not impose extreme heat directly on the scalp and hair, you can effectively retain the moisture while having dry clean hair before getting outside.
Additionally, brushing your hair to a gentle degree is a recommendation since it is prone to being drier when the cold weather hits.
Besides dryness, breakage comes along with the blistering cold. Breakage can happen due to diverse factors in the winter: low humidity, dry hair, too much heat, etc.
Keeping your hair away from chemical treatments such as colouring, bleaching, or lightening as much as possible is the best choice to protect your hair during this period. As winter is too dry, when your hair gets damaged from such treatments, your hair will need a much longer time to recover.
Besides, you might need to be more considerate when styling your winter hair. Putting your hair up in a bun or braid, twisting strands too tightly, or using rubber bands can mar your hair. Any activities that twist, pull or apply intensive physical force on your hair tightly and aggressively will lead to hair breakage.
Winter static electricity
If you have mid-length or long hair, static 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. The static makes will give you the “hair-raising” look and more fly-away hair. But why does it happen?
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. However, due to the extreme dryness of 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 fly-away strands.
To deal with that, once again, keeping your hair moisturised is the best solution. Extensive use of various hair moisturisers is a good idea in wintertime. Besides, you could consider other anti-frizz or ionic solutions to eliminate the electric charge.
Vitamin D deficiency
Be careful as you might experience nutritional deficiencies in wintertime, especially vitamin D deficiency. In wintertime, as the daytime is relatively short during winter, it leads to a significant decline of this vitamin status due to the lack of sunlight.
Besides undermining the well-being of your bones, teeth and muscles, vitamin D deficiency 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.
Additionally, there is 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.
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 salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, beef liver, mushrooms, egg yolks, etc. Some kinds of fortified food such as fish oil, milk, breakfast cereals, orange juice, soy drinks, and dairy products like yoghurt are also good sources to boost vitamin D in your body. Vitamin supplements might be helpful, but you should consult your doctor before deciding on any supplementations.
The blistering cold of winter usually comes with several problems for your hair health: dryness, breakage, static electricity, or vitamin D deficiency.
To deal with those issues, you need to intensively moisturise your hair, avoid chemical and heat treatments on your hair, maintain a healthy lifestyle like eating properly and doing exercise, and finally, take vitamin supplements if needed and under the consultancy of your doctors.
Furthermore, daily hair care can contribute to your hair health. Indeed, the way you wash, brush, dry, and style your hair or what kinds of shampoos and conditioners you use altogether will decide what extent of your hair quality and quantity. Being more considerate when taking care of your hair will be vital during the cold months.
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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