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It truly never fails. “It” being the fact that, no matter how much I say that I’m going to prepare for fall and wintertime, it always creeps up on me, sooner than I planned for it to. And this year is definitely no exception. And since these past several months, I’ve seen more progress when it comes to the health of my hair than I have in a while, I definitely don’t want the bitter wind, cold and (possibly) sleet and snow to damage all of the work that I’ve put into my tresses. I’m pretty sure that at least some of you can totally relate to where I’m coming from too.

So, as we’re settling into another six months of cooler weather conditions, here are a few ways that you can protect your hair so that, come spring, your locks will still be healthy, full and thriving.

1. Deep condition your locks.

When it comes to hair maintenance tips, I doubt you will ever see me write an article that doesn’t mention the importance of deep conditioning your tresses. That’s because, if you’re serious about gaining inches, it is one of the best ways to make that happen; I can personally attest to this very fact. Back when I only conditioned my hair (you know, left a “regular” conditioner in my hair for a couple of minutes, rinsed and styled), my hair was a lot drier than when I started deep conditioning (putting a rich cream-based conditioner in my hair and letting it remain on it for no less than an hour or two). I get why too because deep conditioning moisturizes, strengthens, makes hair more elastic, maintains the right pH balance, and helps to keep your hair soft and manageable until your next wash day. Since colder seasons can potentially wreak havoc on your locks, make sure that you deep condition your hair (especially your ends) each and every wash day.

2. Use an anti-humectant.

Fall and winter traditionally brings things like rain, sleet and snow, the combination of bitter winds, low humidity and walking into a house that is high on heat—which can all play a role in drying your hair out. That’s why it’s also a good idea to apply an anti-humectant to your hair during this time of the year too. While a humectant helps to pull moisture from the air (honey is able to do this pretty well), an anti-humectant will lock in the moisture that your hair already has; it’s basically like sealing your ends, only you can (and should) apply an anti-humectant to your entire head. If you’re wondering what oils serve as a great anti-humectant, some of them include virgin olive oil, shea butter, beeswax, hydrogenated castor oil and coconut oil. So does any product that has silicone as its top ingredient.

3. Let up on heating styling tools.

It’s kinda sad (and by sad, I mean infuriating) that one of our favorite ways to style our hair is what can cause the most drama. But the reality is that blow dryers, flat irons and other styling tools that require heat can do more damage than good, if you’re not careful. That’s because heat has a way of stripping our hair of the natural oils and protein that it has. Since the air is already drier during the colder seasons, you can probably see why I recommend letting up on styling tools. That said, if you absolutely must use them, make sure to apply a heat protectant, that you blow dry your hair once it has air-dried somewhere between 50-60 percent (so that the styling tool doesn’t literally fry your hair) and that you go no higher than medium heat. If your hair is smoking when you’re using your tool, that is way too high. Dial the temperature down in order to avoid split ends and breakage.

4. Eat foods that’ll moisturize your hair.

No matter what you do to the outside of your hair, it’s not gonna matter much if you’re not taking care of your insides too. One way to do that is to consume foods that are loaded with moisture so that your scalp and hair follicles can stay healthy. Some of the foods that are great at this include eggs, avocado, honey, celery, dark leafy greens, salmon and berries.

5. Drink herbal tea.

One of the best things about the fall and winter seasons is that you can enjoy a nice warm cup of cocoa or even herbal tea. When it comes to tea specifically, it’s also really good for your hair because it contains antioxidants, relieves stress, boosts your immune system, replenishes your system with water, reduces inflammation and is packed with vitamins and minerals. So, what are some of the best herbal teas as far as your hair is concerned? Rosemary increases blood circulation (which means nutrients are able to get to your scalp quicker). Nettle is loaded with amino acids and is a wonderful detoxifier. Green tea contains EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which stimulates hair growth. Ginger helps to reduce hair fall. Peppermint both soothes and invigorates your scalp. Rooibos is loaded with micronutrients. And chamomile has a reputation for containing properties that help to reduce balding.

6. Push the sugary stuff back.

I know. This is the time of year when you want to enjoy all of the sugary foods that your aunties and grandmothers make from scratch. Just remember that moderation is key because sugar has a way of triggering inflammation in your system which can actually damage your hair follicles from the inside out and lead to hair loss over time. No one is saying that you can’t enjoy a ginger snap or a slice of red velvet cake. Just try not to overdo it and to drink a glass of water along with your sweets in order to flush some of the extra sugar out of your system.

7. Wear hats.

One of my favorite things about the fall and winter seasons is I can pull out my golf caps and fedoras. Not only are they fly fashion accessories, but they are also a great way to protect my hair from inclement weather too. Just make sure that you line your hats with satin. Otherwise, materials like wool can do a real number on your hair because of how they are able to absorb so much moisture from them (if you want tips on how to line your hats yourself, check out this video, this video and this video).

8. Sleep with a humidifier.

There are so many reasons why a humidifier is a must have in your bedroom during the fall and winter seasons. Because moisture in the air can make it harder for germs to move about, sleeping with a humidifier can help to prevent the spreading of airborne diseases. Also, sleeping with a humidifier will moisturize your nasal passages and throat which can reduce snoring and relieve allergy-related symptoms. The reason why one is ideal for your hair is because, since humidifiers puts moisture into the environment, it can help to keep your skin and hair from drying out. And, the more moisture your hair has, the healthier it will be. So, definitely invest in one before the year is out. From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, your body will thank you—all fall and winter long.

How do you protect your hair in the cold? Share with us in the comments!