Dry air, cold winds, and fuzzy hats are just a few reasons for our hair and scalp woes this time of year. But with a little extra TLC, you can combat static, dullness, and dryness during the winter. We turned to a hairstylist, a colorist, and a dermatologist for help. (You can also take these steps to protect your skin from the cold.)
Why it happens: Has anyone ever escaped the Bride of Frankenstein look after wearing a knit hat in winter? Well, no. That's because when the air is dry and your hat rubs against your hair, they swap electrons, creating an electric charge that builds up in your strands. Moisture loss also causes the hair's outer cuticle layer to lift and appear fuzzy, says Leon Gorman, a hairstylist and the creative director at Marie-Lou & D in New York City.
What to do: Stick to products that lock in moisture but work with your hair type. For fine hair, apply an oil from midlengths to ends so you don't weigh down the roots. If you have more texture, a thicker product like a styling cream or lotion can be massaged in all over. To ground flyaways, spritz hairspray on your brush before using it, says Gorman, who recommends swapping out a nylon-bristle tool for one with natural bristles, which are less electrically charged. (Here are more hat hair solutions.)
What to use: A blow-dry lotion, like Virtue Polish Un-Frizz Cream ($40; virtuelabs.com), is ideal for thicker hair. On normal to fine hair, try a serum or an oil, like Shu Uemura Art of Hair Essence Absolue ($69; shuuemuraartofhair-usa.com).
Why it happens: Dry air removes color molecules, not just moisture, from your hair.
What to do: "Having dimension in your color reduces the look of fading," says Abby Haliti, the color director at Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa in New York City. To add depth, she uses a popular technique called balayage, in which darker or lighter streaks are painted onto hair to create contrast.
What to use: Apply a hair mask once a week to preserve color and hydrate your hair. We like Kérastase Reflection Masque Chromatique ($63; kerastase-usa.com) and the Rossano Ferretti Vita Rejuvenating Hair Mask ($76; rossanoferretti.com).
Why it happens: When it's cold outside, the heat gets pumped up inside, which sucks the moisture out of our hair, says Francesca Fusco, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. The lack of humidity can also make your scalp feel itchy and tight. (Booking a scalp facial is definitely not a bad idea this time of year.)
What to do: There's a right way and a wrong way to moisturize your scalp, which might surprise you. "When you have a tight scalp, while it's technically not full-blown dandruff, you should treat it as such because it's at the front of the dandruff spectrum," Dr. Fusco explains. This means you should first clear your scalp with a good exfoliation to prevent dead cells from clogging the follicles and help moisturizing ingredients absorb better. Then use a hydrating shampoo.
What to use: Fusco suggests adding a teaspoon of sugar to your hydrating shampoo (it will dissolve when you rinse) to help it exfoliate, or using a gentle shampoo, like Dove Dermacare Scalp Dryness & Itch Relief Shampoo ($5; target.com), with zinc pyrithione (found in dandruff shampoos).