Hair freaking out once the temperatures drop? Achieve a balance with insight from a skincare expert. (You heard right).
What does a skin expert know about hair?
We asked Amy McMichael, M.D., chair of the Department of Dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., how to treat your hair this winter. Why a dermatologist? Because both hair and skin are made of proteins and lipids (good fats), which help retain moisture.
But as the bitter winter air creeps in, even the most hair-blessed of us get flyaways and static. Being weathered with age (and, weather!) sheds lipids in the hair, leaving you with rougher, lifeless locks.
Do hair and skin get oily at the same rate?
According to Dr. McMichael, the rate at which both hair and skin become oily may be similar, but they must be cleansed in a different way. Although an oily scalp skin usually means oily face skin, we would never recommend cleansing the face only once a week.
Facial skin is also much more sensitive than the scalp, so daily cleansing of the face must be accomplished with mild cleansers.
Why is hair drier in the winter?
Heat styling, chemical straighteners and coloring agents all can strip the lipids and allow damage to the hair shaft. This is why it is important to use moisturizing shampoos and conditioners (try Pantene Daily Moisture Renewal) that are geared towards your hair type.
For those with thin hair, too-heavy moisturizers will leave the hair limp and too greasy, while too-light moisturizing products will not help enough for thick damaged hair.
How to moisturize hair without looking like a greaseball
Shampoo and conditioning products geared to hair type (thin, thick, color or chemical treated) will help. But often, this will not be enough to coat the hair for the all the days between washing.
To help maintain a more moisturized hair shaft, daily leave-on products can be very helpful in the maintenance of smooth hair shafts, minimizing frizz, as well as minimizing the heavy weighed-down feeling that a wash-off conditioning product will cause if left on the hair.
Among other agents, products with dimethicone-coating agents work nicely to smooth the hair without leaving it greasy. However, a high concentration of dimethicone in products can cause a very oily hair shaft. (If it's high on the ingredient list, it's safe to assume there's more of it!)
Washing your hair
According to Dr. McMichael, there is no right frequency for hair washing. If your hair has a tendency to be oily, washing may need to be as frequent as daily. But this may change in the winter when humidity is low and hair washing can be more like every other day or less frequently.
What is important is to cleanse the scalp at least weekly in most cases. This will allow the scalp and hair to be cleansed of the dirt and sebum that attaches itself to the hair follicles through the week. For some women with very kinky or curly hair, hair washing frequency may be as low as every other week.