Tame the winter mane: How to end static, dry scalp and snapping strands

Posted Dec. 03, 2010, at 9:44 p.m.

Pop, pop, pop. Hair protests as it’s forced to let go of a wool hat and scarf. Friction and dry air team up to unleash infamous winter static. Full of electricity, strands snake out, clinging to everything.

Such an unruly mane leads people to believe that winter is a harsh time for hair, but with the right care, winter actually can be a time of repair.

“During winter, everyone’s hair usually gets healthier. It recovers from the sun, swimming and seasonal highlights,” said Crystal Small, owner of Deja’Vu Salon in Bangor.

Here are a few simple ways for men and women to keep hair healthy, manageable and relatively static-free this season.

Goodbye, dry hair

If there’s less moisture in the air, there’s less moisture in hair. Using a rich moisturizing shampoo is the first step to adding moisture back in.

On occasion, pamper yourself with a relaxing deep conditioning treatment to add nutrients and moisture back in. The thick conditioner is worked through the length of the hair and massaged into the scalp. After the conditioner is shampooed out, hair is noticeably smooth and more manageable.

Deep conditioning treatments can be done at home or in a salon. Deja’Vu Salon’s 15-minute Redken Chemistry treatment, $20 in December, is custom-made for customers’ needs, whether it’s moisture, color protection, strength, control or a combination of all of the above.

For people who don’t have time to sit in a salon or take an extra 10 minutes in the shower, a variety of overnight conditioning treatments are sold at salons. And five to six drops of Agadir Argan Oil combed through wet hair can hydrate and repair daily.

Moisture also can be added to hair with a leave-in lightweight conditioner. This solution is best for thick and coarse hair but will weigh down fine hair, said Amy Guiggey, executive director of Empire Beauty School in Bangor.

For hair that is in desperate need of conditioning, ask your stylist about hot oil treatments. And if you really love your hair and skin, put a humidifier in your house to eradicate dry air altogether.

Guarding against static

Wool creates friction, which creates static — and so does nearly anything else in the wintertime.

To combat static and flyaways, spray a small amount of hairspray or leave-in conditioner in a brush and comb it through your hair from roots to ends. A home remedy: Run a dryer sheet over your hair to neutralize the electric charge.

If you don’t like hairspray, use a few drops of silicone-based serum.

Soothing the scalp

Just like lotion rescues dry hands and feet, certain shampoos help a dry scalp.

“It’s very individualized because some people, even in the winter, tend to have more of an oily scalp,” Guiggey said. “In the wintertime, [many] people have really dry scalp, psoriasis, eczema, dandruff.”

Medicated shampoo or dandruff shampoo is all right for some, but, unless it’s sulfate-free, it will strip color from dyed hair.

To stimulate and soothe a dry scalp, Guiggey suggests tea tree oil shampoos such as Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo, which also is infused with peppermint and lavender.

Keeping clean

In the winter, nothing sounds better than a steamy, hot shower. Unfortunately, if you wash your hair with hot water, it opens the hair cuticles and pulls all of the oils and nutrients out of the strands. At the end of showering, rinse the conditioner out with lukewarm water to close the cuticles and trap in the moisture and shine.

At home, use salon-quality shampoo and conditioner. Healthy hair doesn’t require a lot of products, but a few good ones. Shampooing hair is necessary to rid it of excess oils and residue, but frequent cleaning can strip natural oils, dry out the scalp, fade hair dye and cause tangles and breakage.

“I don’t wash my hair every single day,” Guiggey said. “I color my hair every six weeks, so I feel like I’m washing my money down the drain.”

Running your fingers through your hair stimulates the scalp to produce more oils. A lot of companies are coming out with convenient dry shampoos in aerosol cans that absorb oils between washes. Guiggey suggests TIGI Rockaholic dry shampoo or simply using baby powder.

People who use a lot of products such as hairspray should use a clarifying shampoo once a month to strip away the buildup and start fresh.

Protective up-dos

“Around the holidays and New Years, people want to have an up-do,” Guiggey said. “Doing something with dry hair and without a lot of tension will make it a better choice — [such as] loose curls pinned back lightly.”

Don’t style ponytails with wet hair and avoid rubber bands — both will cause breakage. Use hairspray with low alcohol content. Alcohol dries hair and the scalp, Small said.

One way to acquire texture without hairspray or mousse is by pulling the front section of hair away from the face with braids or chain-links. This also prevents static-filled hair from sticking to your cheeks and forehead.

Winter trends

“Texture is in,” said Small.

People are starting to realize that using a hot iron damages hair, so they’re carrying over the “natural” trend from the summer. Frizz and natural waves are stylish and easy.

The humidity of the summer gives the hair body, and when that’s taken away, hair flattens. In the winter, certain layered cuts can make hair appear fuller. Volumizing spray and mousse worked into the bottom layers of hair add texture and make hair easier to style after donning a hat.

While people often lighten their hair in the summer, they darken it with low-lights in the winter. Adding darker shades can add depth to hair and make it appear thicker, according to Crystal Bryant, apprentice at Total Look Hair & Tanning in Brewer.

This season, dark reds, auburn and copper are popular, according to Small.

“Secretly, we can’t wait for September or October to give our clients’ hair a break,” Small said.

Tricks to healthy hair

Hair grows approximately half an inch every month. To keep it fresh and free of split ends, stylists suggest hair be dusted or trimmed every six weeks — and many stylists can do this while preserving the hair length. A dry trim can cost as little as $10.

Blow drying on high heat and straightening hair with a flat iron daily will increase the likelihood of developing split ends. Take a shower at night and allow hair to air dry. Leave your hair braided overnight for natural texture.

Taking vitamin E and fish oil supplements daily is good for both your hair and skin.

Above all, find yourself an educated stylist, and be comfortable enough to ask questions.

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