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Pictured: @qredew hair steamer

This Is How You Properly Prep Your Hair for Fall

Wow. Is it just me or does it seem like this is the time of the year, like clockwork, when we gasp at the thought that another holiday season is much closer than we think? Not that I’m exactly complaining or anything because, I don’t know about you, but my absolute favorite time of the year is the fall season. Cooler weather. Colorful leaves. Layered clothing. Apple cider. Comfort food galore. Yes, I could definitely go on and on.

I must admit, though, that it wasn’t until a few years ago that my hair started getting (almost) as excited about the change in seasons as the rest of me does. That’s because, just like it’s a good idea to use this time to winterize your home and budget for Christmas, it’s also wise to come up with a “fall hair prep plan” — you know, proven things that can get your hair ready for the inclement weather that is sure to come.

If you agree with where I’m coming from and you’d like a few pointers on how to get your hair prepared for the turn of a new season, here are 10 things that I do that I think can put a smile on you — and your hair’s — face.

Get a Good (Professional) Trim

I’ll be the first one who is all about dusting ends from the comfort, convenience and no-cost of your own house. Still, as you are preparing to get into some chilly weather, ice, sleet and snow (and possibly a holiday-themed party or two), I definitely recommend that you get your hair trimmed by a professional stylist. Unless you plan on wearing a protective style (and yes, wigs and weaves count), there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be styling your hair more often, so you want to make sure that your ends are in good shape, not just to reduce frizz and split ends, but so your styles can last longer too.

Line Your Hats

At this point, I can’t even tell you how many brims and golf caps that I have. What I will say is a lot of them are made out of wool and I used to make the grave mistake of not making sure they were lined with satin before putting them on. The reason why this is so important is because fabrics like wool can really dry your hair out. And since cold air has a way of lifting our cuticles and zapping them of moisture, well, you definitely don’t want to look up, come spring, to dry and brittle hair that results in you having to lose a few inches. Anyway, if you want to gain some tips on how to line your hats at home, check out this video here.

Eat Some Collagen

I’m willing to bet you already know that your hair is made up of a protein called keratin. Since collagen is also a protein, it probably makes sense why I would say that you absolutely need to get — and keep — some of it in your system. There are a few reasons why this can be super helpful during the fall. For one thing, whenever you eat collagen, it actually breaks down into amino acids. This is a good thing because that helps your body to produce even more protein. Collagen also helps to keep your hair follicles healthy, reduce thinning, slow greying and encourage long and strong healthy hair growth — all of which are great benefits when your hair is dealing with colder weather. While there are collagen supplements that you can take (that you can easily find at your local vitamin store), there are also foods that are loaded with collagen too. Some of those include egg whites, citrus fruit, red and yellow veggies (like red peppers, red cabbage, yellow peppers and squash), berries, garlic, fish and even white tea.

Eat Some Omegas 3s Too

While we’re on the topic of diet, make sure to get some omega 3s into your system as well. It’s a type of fatty acid that your body actually cannot produce on its own. What makes it so beneficial, hair-wise, is it helps to prevent hair follicle inflammation while also increasing blood circulation to your scalp so that your hair follicles are able to receive the nutrients that they need. Not only that but omega 3s are amazing when it comes to moisturizing your hair from the inside out. This is also something that comes in supplement form. However, foods that are high in omega 3s include salmon, tuna, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, spinach and Brussels sprouts.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Put Some Oil into Your Conditioner

Speaking of moisturizing your hair, while I’m a huge fan of deep conditioning, on the wash days when I don’t have a couple of hours to let the conditioner penetrate my hair, a hack that works wonderfully is adding some oil to my conditioner. If you put a tablespoon or two of argan oil (it deeply penetrates your hair), jojoba oil (it brings relief to dry hair), sweet almond oil (it helps to restore hair loss), olive oil (it reduces frizzing) and/or grapeseed (it fights dandruff and scalp inflammation), not only will your hair receive even more moisture and sheen, it will gain the properties from those oils to keep your hair healthy all fall (and winter) long.

Apply Serums with Care

There are a lot of women I know who will wear their natural curls in the warmer months and then straighten their hair once the fall season arrives. If you’re able to raise your hand in this particular class, be careful when it comes to applying hair serum. While it’s good for your hair when it comes to protecting it from outer elements, controlling frizz, maintaining straightness, promoting shine and reducing tangles, if you get into the habit of constantly piling the serum on, it can have adverse effects like not being able to hold your style or totally drying your hair out. This is why it’s so important to find one that particularly fits your hair type, that you don’t apply it to your scalp (that could lead to unnecessary build-up and/or scalp irritation) and that you don’t rely on it as a hair growth remedy. Even though there are some serums that market themselves as hair growth serums, more than anything, they are styling solutions that should be treated as nothing more than that. In other words, a little of serum (a quarter in your hand when styling) goes a really long way.

Keep Heat Out of It As Much As Possible (Including on Wash Day)

OK, on the heels of what I just said, this point might sound a little crazy but still, hear me out. As far as blow drying and flat ironing goes, because the fall weather isn’t as humid as the summer, you should be able to go with using less heat because you won’t encounter as much shrinkage. However, when you do opt to style your hair this way, make sure that you apply some thermal heat protectant, each and every time. Also, it’s important that you go with a spray protectant if your hair is fine and a cream one if it’s thick in order to receive the best protection possible. However, when it comes to this particular point, what I really want to stress is that you avoid using hot water on your wash days. Because your hair is porous, you want to keep water warm; otherwise, hot water can dehydrate your hair and scalp. Not only that but it can actually “trigger” frizz — and no one wants any of that. So, no matter how great hot water may feel after coming in from the brisk cold weather, warm is always the temperature to go with as far as washing your hair is concerned.

Invest in a Humidifier

If you don’t already have a humidifier in your house (especially your bedroom), this is definitely the time of year to get yourself one. While all kinds of moisturizers help to put moisture into the air, if you get one that produces a cool mist, it can reduce the temperature of the air in your house while a warm mist can keep your home a little warmer. As far as health benefits go, humidifiers (especially when during the cooler months) are able to reduce the amount of viruses and bacteria that lurk in the air, ease asthma symptoms, keep your skin moist, reduce snoring and yes, it’s great for your hair too. That’s because, just like it moisturizes your skin, a humidifier can help to hydrate your scalp as well as your tresses which is a great foundation for healthy hair.

Steam Your Hair

Whether you’d prefer to not buy a humidifier or you’re simply looking for a way to give your hair even more moisture, another way to do that is by steaming your locks. At the end of the day, steaming simply gives your hair back some of the moisture that it may have lost due to the environment or from how you choose to style your hair. Since steamers are also proven to increase moisture, give your natural curls more definition (for longer), strengthen your hair and make it easier for your favorite products to penetrate your hair’s shaft, it’s definitely a must-do, at least 1-2 times a month (more than that could put too much moisture in your hair which weaken your hair over time); especially around this time of year. By the way, when it comes to the steaming process, you can purchase a steamer like the Q-Redew pictured above and follow a steaming tutorial on YouTube video here. You can also steam your hair at home without a steamer by following this tutorial below.

“Baby” Your Ends

If you’re someone who feels like, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to gain inches or your hair has been at a plateau for months (or even years) on end, it can’t be stressed enough that if you see hair on your head, it is indeed growing. Problem is, you are losing length at your ends at about the speed that you are gaining it at your roots. That’s why it’s so important to baby your ends, really, all year-round. And what are some of the signs that your ends need trimming, more deep conditioning, sealing (check out “How to Seal Your Hair for Protective Styles”) or a break from some of the styling choices that may leave it vulnerable to inclement weather? If your ends are dry and brittle; you feel a lot of fairy knots; your hair tangles up a ton whenever you attempt to style it; your ends won’t hold any curl; they snap off easily; you notice split ends (this definitely means that you need to trim your hair, by the way; there is no product that totally restores them), or the texture of your ends feels different from the rest of your hair shaft. If any of this is the case, make sure to give your ends some extra tender loving care. Matter of fact, since fall is upon us, take out a couple of hours to inspect your ends and “baby” them now. It’s a proactive step that could very well keep your hair in great shape (and give you a few more inches) until spring rolls back around again.

©Shellie R. Warren/2021