Posted by Ava Welsing-Kitcher for Hair
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Dry, breaking hair happens year round, but winter definitely adds an extra risk. We break down the facts and fiction about caring for afro hair when it’s cold, tackling dryness and damage from central heating, heavy coats and scarves, and braid itch.
As soon as the central heating flicks on and we start bundling up, our beauty routines also go through a transformation. Hydrating bodycare and skincare are musts for the drying effects of winter, and the same sentiment is usually echoed when it comes to hair – especially afro hair, the driest and most fragile of all the hair types.
But the same rules don’t necessarily apply. Our skin needs extra help during the winter as it’s a living organism, which hair is not. It’s a build-up of dead keratin (a protein made by our bodies) rather than living, breathing skin cells, so it doesn’t respond to the elements in the same way that skin does. So when winter comes, it still is essential to keep up a proper hydrating and strengthening hair routine as you would for the rest of the year, but there’s no need to pile on a load of extra products just for the sake of it.
The main culprits that may make afro hair feel drier are fluctuating temperatures (think central heating and cold outside air) and added friction from jumpers, coats and scarves. Both cause breakage, and in the case of temperature, it can cause the hair shaft to constantly open and close in response. It’s also a common myth that we need to skip wash day more often during the winter to preserve the hair’s natural oil, which does condition the strands but shouldn’t be allowed to build up on the scalp. Stick to washing once weekly (or fortnightly at a stretch, but most afro hair specialists do not recommend longer than this) with hydrating sulphate-free shampoos and co-washes.
Winter is also often the time when protective hairstyles like braids, twists, cainrows, wigs and locs really come into play. Long hailed as the solution to winter hair breakage, these styles do work well in keeping hair secured and protected from friction, but can actually exacerbate breakage in finer or damaged hair types. Keeping your braids in for longer than a month to six weeks is also a major mistake; dust, dead skin, and products build up at the root and weaken the hair over time, leading to increased shedding and scalp issues.
Make sure to still wash your hair while it’s in a protective style, and use oils only as a pre-wash treatment or sparingly when the scalp feels dry. And if that dreaded braid itch pops up – or even dandruff? Use a targeted treatment and make sure to wash off any build-up with a lathering, sulphate-free shampoo instead of a co-wash. Whether your hair’s wrapped up or flowing free, read on for the products to have in your year-round arsenal, but pull their weight particularly well in the colder months.
Shop Centred En-Root Scalp Treatment for £36 at Cult Beauty
Co-washes, or cleansing conditioners, are another commonly misused product – understandably so, as a lot of the messaging and marketing around them positions them as a shampoo alternative. Use them in between washes, for when hair feels dry or needs a refresh without being properly cleansed. This one is packed with castor oil and vitamin E to feed follicles and condition the scalp.
Shop As I Am Jamaican Black Castor Oil CoWash for £9.99 at Lookfantastic
Shop Bread Beauty Supply Hair-Wash- Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser for £18 at Selfridges
So many things cause an irritated scalp: not washing hair frequently enough, washing it too frequently, a build-up of styling products, or too-tight protective hairstyles that stay in too long. Rebalance and restore with this soothing scalp and hair mask, packed with superfoods and circulation stimulators like rosemary, cinnamon and ginger. Women have praised it highly for its ability to soothe even dermatitis and psoriasis.
Shop Derma Organics Scalp Stimulating Treatment for £22 at Derma Organics
Shop Sol De Janeiro Triple Brazilian Butter Hair Repair Treatment for £35 at Cult Beauty
Shop Jim and Henry Eight Leave-in Hair Conditioner for £20 at The Drop
It’s great to have multiple leave-in options depending on what your hair needs: a thicker one for max hydration, a lighter one for refreshes, and a middle ground for everyday styling. Okiki’s uses shea as a base with moringa, an African superfood hailed for its dandruff-fighting powers and ability to seriously strengthen skin and hair.
Shop Okiki Moringa Shea Leave On Hair Conditioner for £8 at Okiki Skincare
Your hair’s hydration level can be influenced by the humidity of the air, so your leave-in products need to reflect that – whatever the season. Humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid draw moisture to themselves, so if you live in a humid climate, moisture will be sucked from the air and held to your strands. If the climate’s dry, the humectants draw moisture from inside your hair to the air – which is what we don’t want. This lightweight leave-in has humectants honey and vitamin B to keep hair hydrated, and coconut and calendula oils to keep moisture locked inside.
Shop Flora & Curl Organic Rose & Honey Leave-in Detangler for £19 at Flora & Curl
Shop Afrocenchix Sheen Natural Moisturising Spray for £11.95 at Afrocenchix
Images: Getty/courtesy of brands
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Posted by Ava Welsing-Kitcher for Hair