Come winter, hair seems especially prone to being dry. This is, in part, because the atmosphere is much dryer and you’re wandering from cold to hot all the time can just wreak havoc on your tresses. But there are a few things you can do to make sure your hair is sleek and shiny all winter.
Stop Washing It So Darn Much!
You may be in the habit of scrubbing your locks clean every day, but chances are, you’re doing more damage than good with your shampooing frequency. This is especially true if your hair is dry.
The real reason we use shampoo is to get rid of the excess sebum, sweat, hair products and environmental dirt that inevitably get into hair and the scalp over time. They generally contain amphiphilic, both hydrophilic and lipophilic, surfactants that will attract both oil and water, which allows the surfactant to bind with sebum and then be washed away with water (International Journal of Trichology).
The most popular of surfactants are anionic detergents, such as the much-talked-about sodium lauryl sulfate. This particular surfactant is super harsh, striping away much of the sebum on skin and hair, which is why is can cause contact dermatitis when over-used, as with hair stylists (British Journal of Dermatology).
Hair without sebum is very coarse, dry, and otherwise not ideal. This is because, while excessive sebum can make hair oily, sebum is meant to travel down the shaft of the hair and help provide moisture. In curly or dry hair this process is a bit slower. So if your problem is dry hair, one of the first courses of action is to stop washing it so darn much and consider avoiding the harsher surfactants.
[Read More: Spotlight On: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate]
Consider Protective and Moisturizing Oils, Such as Pequi and Argan
Pequi oil was found to be a powerful antioxidant that reduced DNA damage in runner in a 2009 study (Genetics and Molecular Research). Since then, its been studied for its other potential benefits, which include lipid hydrating agents, oleic acid (55%), palmitic acid (34%), heptadecenoic acid (5%), and linoleic acid (2%) (Journal of the Science of Agriculture, International Journal of Food Properties). It also has a pleasant nutty scent to it.
Argan oil is also jam-packed with antioxidants that are good for protecting locks from the sun’s harmful rays (European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology). Yes, the same way the sun damages your skin, it can also do quite a number on your hair. As the pigment protects the protein, it gets broken down more and more, resulting in less shine and color. Argan oil can help add a boost of UV protection (Journal of Photo Chemistry and Photobiology, Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry).
A Little Less Heat, Please!
Excessive heat can break down the proteins in hair; it can also cause the water in wet hair to boil, making bubbles form and leading to the rupturing of hair. Research using electron microscopy determined that all hair will bubble when enough heat is applied to it (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).
The way to avoid this is by using a warm, instead of hot, setting on your styling appliances. And also to start blow dries at lower heat and increase heat gradually. In addition to this, holding the blow dryer farther away — about 6 inches — from your scalp will prevent unnecessary hair damage and potential scalp burns (Hair Care).
Using styling tools less and forgoing blow drying when it’s not necessary can help stop your hair from drying out.
If your hair is dry, there could be many things you’re doing to make things worse. Consider a few steps to ensure that your hair doesn’t get frizzy and brittle. Wash your hair less to avoid stripping it of natural oils, use moisturizing oils to protect hair from the elements, and skip the extra-hot setting on styling products and opt for something warm or forgo them altogether.