Like flaky skin, parched strands suffer in the cold. Here's expert advice.
You’ve been working on healing your dry winter skin — but don’t forget about your hair.
Like flaky skin, parched strands suffer in the cold. Here is practical advice from pros, along with updates on hair-hydrating technology.
1. Treat your hair like cashmere.
Hair may not be alive like, say, skin cells, but you still have to treat it delicately. David Mallett, who is opening a Manhattan outpost of his Parisian salons this spring, says it helps to think of hair as a fiber.
“You wouldn’t throw your cashmere in steaming hot water, so look after your hair and love it the same way,” he says. “Lay off the hot water and use lukewarm or even cold.”
2. Deep condition your hairbrush.
It’s natural to reach for intense conditioners and hair masks when the mercury drops, but sometimes those products flatten hair. Instead, Mallett offers this tip: “Get a natural bristle brush, and after you clean it, deep condition the brush regularly with a hair serum, oil or leave-in conditioner. This way, when you brush through your hair, it gives it extra shine but without weighing it down.”
3. Humidity is your friend.
The main cause of dry winter hair is not the temperature but the lack of moisture in the air. Arash Akhavan, a dermatologist in New York, suggests using humidifiers, avoiding space heaters and switching to ionic hair dryers, “because they use less heat to get the same effect.”
4. Coat your hair.
Trap moisture with hydrating shampoos and conditioners. The Oribe Gold Lust Pre-Shampoo Intensive Treatment ($68 at oribe.com) has a thick balm-like formula that works especially well on coarser textures.
For finer strands, a less viscous formula, such as Ouai Hair Oil ($28 at theouai.com), may be better. It is a top seller in the Ouai line, according to its founder Jen Atkin, known for her work with the Kardashians. “It can double as both a styling product and mask so you can wear it while you sleep or work out,” she says.
5. Kick up the keratin.
If you think a keratin treatment means a mop of stick-straight hair, think again. In-salon services can now hydrate and soften but leave texture intact.
“With Japanese hair straightening, and later Brazilian blowout, you stripped the keratin and broke the disulfide bonds in your hair so it became very straight, and then you replaced the keratin,” Akhavan says. “But keratin can also be used just as a long-lasting conditioner.”
More accessible: Virtue’s keratin-infused shampoos and conditioners, which can be used at home. Adir Abergel, Virtue’s creative director, who works with Rooney Mara, Reese Witherspoon and Saoirse Ronan, particularly likes the company’s Smooth Conditioner ($38) and Perfect Ending Split End Serum ($40, both at virtuelabs.com).
6. Read the label.
There may be hidden drying agents lurking in your styling products. Arsen Gurgov, a stylist who often works with Emmy Rossum, advises “staying away from styling products with alcohol, as they tend to dry out the hair even more.”
If you have a favorite conditioner that contains silicones, you may want to swap it for a silicone-free version. “Silicones can build up with repeated use and coat the hair too much, making it dull and lifeless,” Gurgov says. His simple solution: Use pure argan oil before blow-drying to prep the hair, and again afterward to finish the style.