Managing your ‘Winter Hair’


When you live in a place like Edmonton, you learn to adapt to the cooler weather. Our clothes? Pack a jacket or add a scarf – either can be removed later in the day or added when the wind is particularly biting. Our skin? We instinctively respond to dry spots with moisturizers and body lotions. Our hair? That’s another story. We throw on a toque, twist it into a ponytail, generally cover it up and forget about it.

No more, my friends. Changing seasons means responding to important changes in your hair and your hair style. Here are my top ideas for managing winter hair.

At the Cutting Room Salon and Spa, we encourage guests who colour their hair to lighten up in the summer. Conversely, for the long fall and winter months, we encourage deepening colour or adding rich, warm tones and glazes. Both effects will instantly make the hair look healthier, glossier and richer. Warm tones also compliment the colours that we wear over winter months and make skin tones seem more vibrant. While we can’t benefit from the sun-kissed look that we enjoy in summer, we can frame the face to create a glow.

If you said, “not me” when you read about covering up your hair during the cold months, you’re likely using a blow dryer, flat iron or curling iron to style your hair. Our lives are hectic and we want to get things done quickly. You can’t wash and go when it’s -10 out, so we rely on these tools to get the job done and get us out the door.

I’m all for using these tools – they’re the tools of my trade after all – but I’m all for using them when hair is protected from potential damage. I recommend using a leave-in treatment when the hair is wet. It serves as a good base product, especially if it contains heat-protecting ingredients. But, be careful with your wet hair. Dehydrated hair is likely to be more fragile and may break when you brush it.

If you’re using thermal styling tools on dry hair, then there are many product options to help finish your style and keep the dry frizzies and fly-aways from taking hold. My salon staff can recommend a number of great products if you need some advice.

Humidity plays a key role in hair and scalp health. What works for you over the summer may not be enough in the fall and winter. Look for shampoos, conditioners and hair care products that are nourishing and rich. I also recommend shampooing every other day if you’re a daily hair washer. This helps prevent the natural oils from being stripped from your scalp. (You can simply rinse on the days you don’t wash your hair and then style as usual.)

In addition, winter months are a good time to add a deep conditioning treatment once or twice a week. All hair types benefit from moisture. My suggestion is to shampoo as usual, towel dry the hair and apply the treatment mostly to the mid-shaft to ends of your hair, where it tends to be driest. Leave the treatment on for a good ten to 20 minutes. Walk away from the shower, watch tv or read, and then return to wash out the treatment. If this seems like too much work, then there is a new generation of treatments that can be applied to dry hair at night and washed out in the morning. Your hair gets noticeably healthier while you sleep.

We’re used to dry skin during winter months, but our scalps also get tight and uncomfortable. This can be solved by a simple scalp massage to increase circulation and relieve the tightness. It spreads naturally occurring oils through the hair and increases your natural barriers to a dry scalp. This technique also combats stress and just feels pretty good!

What you eat is also important for your hair and scalp health. Drink lots of water, add a vitamin D supplement and make sure you get enough of essential oils such as Omega 3, 6 and 9.

Finally let’s talk about hat head. If you live in a cold weather climate, you’re bound to get it, but you don’t have to resign yourself to flat tresses and helmet head. Natural clothing is less drying and produces less static electricity, so select a hat that is cotton or wrap yourself in a cashmere scarf. You’ll feel great.

In the mornings, wait until your hair is perfectly dry before putting on your hat otherwise your hair will stay in the position in which it dries. If you have long hair, use a clip to pin up your hair. When you take off your hat and remove your clip, the volume will be maintained.

Want to know something else about hair? Post a comment or come visit the Cutting Room Salon and Spa. We’d be happy to answer all your hair care questions and help get you through our never-ending winters.