Your Hair Deserves Winterproofing, Too—Here’s How to Get Ahead of Harsh Temps

Lock in the good stuff.

By Caitlin Clark

We winterproof all kinds of things when the weather gets chilly—our homes, our cars, even our go-to puffy coat. Why shouldn’t we give the same preemptive care to another highly important asset? This season, I’ve vowed to get ahead of whatever Mother Nature and Father Winter have in mind for my mane, and tapped two pros for a winter hair care guide.

Ahead, L’Oréal Professionnel Global Ambassador Min Kim and celebrity stylist Wendy Iles (founder of Iles Formula), break down everything you need to know about safeguarding your curly, fine, and chemically-treated locks during the harsh winter months.

Featured image of Babba Rivera by Belathée Photography.

Iskra Lawrence smiling
Image by Michelle Nash

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How do cool winter temperatures affect our hair?

Ultimately it’s a one-two combo: cold, dry temperatures paired with heating systems dehydrate our hair and scalp, causing damage (and the dreaded static-induced frizz) to the hair’s cuticle. (“That’s the protective layer of the hair,” Kim adds.)

“It’s something that affects all scalp types and certainly fine, thin hair the most,” Iles notes.

winter hair care
Image by Michelle Nash

What daily beauty habits help protect your hair from the cold?

Shampoo and conditioners are foundational to our hair care routine—and are key when it comes to fortifying strands and locking in moisture during chilly winter months. Hydration is key, but even more vital may be what’s not included in the combo.

“Switch to a perfectly pH-balanced silicone- and sulfate-free shampoo,” Iles explains. “Sulfates are detergents that strip and dry out the hair and scalp whilst silicones weigh hair down.”

The celebrity stylist also recommends a protective serum for your winter hair care routine to act as a leave-in conditioner and prevent breakage.

Iles Formula Haute Performance Finishing Serum

u003cpu003eu0022It repairs split ends and protects against all environmental aggressors—never step outside without a protective serum!u0022u003cemu003e — Wendy Iles u003c/emu003eu003c/pu003e
Riley Reed styling hair in mirror
Image by Dagny Piasecki

What are the best hair masks to keep dryness at bay?

L’Oreal Professionnel Metal Detox Hair Mask

u003cpu003eu0022This deep conditioning hair mask adds moisture back into the hair and protects the hair from metals in water during consecutive washes.u0022 u003cemu003e— Min Kimu003c/emu003eu003c/pu003e

Olaplex No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Hair Mask

u003cpu003eA mask loved by stylists and editors alike, this moisturizing treatment by the internet-breaking beauty brand repairs hair strands from the inside out.u003c/pu003e

Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Hair Mask

u003cpu003eu0022This clinically tested mask strengthens damaged hair, helping prevent future issues like dryness, frizz, damage, split ends, and breakage,u0022 u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eBetsy Dugganu003c/au003e, master stylist at u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eFox and Janeu003c/au003e in New York City, shared with us last year. u003c/pu003e

Christophe Robin Hydrating Melting Hair Mask with Aloe Vera

u003cpu003eA weightless mask that leaves fine and color-treated hair feeling silky smooth.u003c/pu003e

K18 Leave-In Repair Hair Mask Treatment

u003cpu003e“This mask is great for dry or damaged hair. It helps mend shattered cuticles so your hair can appear more healthy and lush. Shiny hair always starts from the health of the hair,” celebrity stylist Sienree Du u003ca href=u0022 last yearu003c/au003e. u003c/pu003e

ILES FORMULA – Haute Performance Hair Mask

u003cpu003eu0022The vitamin-infused mask delivers an extra suppleness to the hair and scalp. It’s formulated for all hair types and will never weigh hair down so it’s perfect to load on the scalp, too.u0022 u003cemu003e— Wendy Ilesu003c/emu003eu003c/pu003e
woman styling hair in mirror_winter hair care
Image by Riley Reed

Does a fresh trim help winterproof hair?

“Regular haircuts are great for hair health and maintenance,” shares Kim. “It’s important to remove damaged, dry or brittle ends to maintain the health of the hair and promote hair growth and overall health.”

Roxana Saidi using phone_winter hair care
Image by Suruchi Avasthi

How can you make heat styling less detrimental to winter hair? 

The colder months usher in one of the biggest party seasons of the year (the holidays), making it tough to refrain from blow dryers and heat styling. Fortunately, a solid finishing serum, like the aforementioned Iles option, or a steam-powered styler helps protect hair cuticles.

L’Oreal Professionnel Steampod

u003cpu003eu0022This is an excellent solution to protecting the hair from damage because it’s adding moisture directly into the hair shaft. It leaves your hair at its saturation point, giving supple shiny results.u0022 u003cemu003e— Min Kimu003c/emu003eu003c/pu003e
Camille Styles_winter hair care
Image by Riley Reed

Do scarves or hats protect hair in the winter?

They certainly don’t hurt, but it all depends on the material.

“Soft materials like silk, satin, and cashmere can protect hair from the elements, which will protect hair from damage or losing moisture over time,” Kim explains. “If previously damaged, dry, or brittle hair is continuously rubbing up against rougher materials, like wool or cotton, either at the nape or at the ends, it could cause breakage over time.”