As the cooler months start to roll in, we naturally begin to protect our bodies from cold, dry air as best we can. We layer on the clothes and blankets, cover our faces with scarves, and even add moisture back to our skin with things like lip balm and lotion.
It’s no big secret that adverse weather can cause dryness, and is pretty harsh on your skin. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget about how harsh it can be on our scalps until we experience dryness, itching, and flaking.
While there may not be some ‘magic’ balm made for a scalp that you can apply as quickly as a chapstick, there are several things you can remember to do to put a stop to dry scalp due to cold weather. Here are some of the things that you can do to prevent dryness and feel better.
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When it’s warm outside, it’s easy to load up on liquids. We reach for a refreshing glass of water, a cool glass of lemonade, etc. In the summer, it’s easy to stay hydrated, not only to cool off from the heat, but because we’re typically more active, and our body lets us know that we need to take in more liquid every day. But just because the heat goes away, doesn’t mean your body needs less hydration.
In fact, proper hydration all year long is exactly what’s going to keep you healthy, especially when it comes to a dry scalp. Good hydration starts on the inside, so by keeping your body fully nourished with enough water, you’ll ensure that your skin, nails, hair, and scalp are all getting adequate hydration to stay healthy in the cold. When it comes to your scalp, this will help to reduce itching and flaking, and will allow your hair to continue to have a healthy ‘summer glow.’
If you start to notice that your hair is becoming dry and brittle in the colder months, there’s a good chance your scalp is getting that way, too, and part of it could have a lot to do with your shampoos and conditioners.
In the winter, try to avoid clarifying shampoos and conditioners that offer deeper penetration and are a bit ‘heavier’ in nature. The more gentle the shampoo and conditioner you use during cold weather, the better. Abrasive shampoos that lighten hair and make it softer with the use of additional chemicals can be a ‘nice touch’ in the summer, but in colder weather, they can become damaged and can strip your scalp of some of the natural oils needed to lock in moisture.
While it’s okay to use lightweight sprays and mists in the summer months, colder weather typically means adding more layers all around, including for your scalp! Not only should you be switching up your shampoo routine, but the products you use to keep your scalp and hair healthy, too.
Choose hydrating masks, and deeply penetrating moisturizers for your daily hair care routine in the winter and your scalp will have more ‘locked in’ moisture to stay hydrated. Between using the right shampoo, and adding healthy hair products to your routine, you’ll be on the right track for a well-protected scalp through the winter.
Whether you only go to a salon or spa on special occasions or find yourself regularly going, making an appointment before the ‘deep freeze’ of cold weather months sets in is a great idea. Why? Most salons offer scalp treatments that include a massage – this helps the natural oils within your scalp to become more active, and produce in higher amounts, which can help to fight back against dryness.
Alternatively, you can give yourself a sort of ‘spa’ treatment at home by applying a weekly oil wash before you shampoo. Argan oil or carrot seed oil are great solutions for keeping your scalp healthy and moisture locked in.
This might seem somewhat confusing since it’s the cold that’s drying out your scalp in the first place. But, products that produce excessive heat, like hair dryers, straighteners, and curling irons. These can dry out your hair and scalp, even more, causing more damage to an already problematic issue.
To style your hair the way you’d like, try air drying, overnight curlers, or leave it in a braid as it dries for volume and fresh waves. If you do end up using these heat-inducing products, make sure to use a hair care solution that can protect against the damage they might cause.
We don’t often realize it in colder months, but it’s dry just about everywhere – not just outside! One way you can combat dry air in your home is with a humidifier, which will put moisture into the air in whatever room you use most.
It’s a great option for the bedroom, allowing the moisture to disperse throughout the room while you sleep, leaving your scalp hydrated throughout the night, so you don’t have to worry about it in the morning.
It might be hard to believe that even the tools you use on your hair could be causing additional problems with your scalp, but it’s true. Try to avoid plastic brushes and combs, and opt for wooden, or ‘eco-friendly’ ones instead. The harsher a tool is on your hair, the more damage it can do to your scalp, which is likely already dry.
In colder months, we tend to cover our heads quite a bit with hoods, scarves, and hats, so it leaves us brushing our hair more frequently. It’s important to choose tools that won’t do extra damage.
Again, we tend to cover our heads in many different ways during cold weather, and it can help to protect our hair and scalp. Wearing hats helps to protect your scalp from frigid temperatures, and keeps moisture from escaping. So, don’t be afraid to stock up on the cold-weather accessories before winter comes along – you’ll be doing your dry scalp a favor, and won’t have to deal with itching and flaking this year.
While products that pump out a lot of direct heat to your hair can be damaging, so can a hot, long shower. It can feel incredibly relaxing to spend extra time in the shower during the winter because it’s a great place to warm up. But, as hot water falls onto your head, it can strip away moisture from your scalp (and the rest of your skin, for that matter).
A much healthier approach is to shorten the length of your shower to about five minutes, if possible, and instead of turning the water all the way to ‘hot,’ opt for a lukewarm rinse instead.
We’ve covered the importance of staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, but your diet can affect the hydration and moisture of your body as well. Get foods that are high in healthy fats to add to your diet. These can be found in avocados, nuts, and fish, for example. The omega-3 fatty acids can help the skin all over your body (including your scalp) to stay hydrated and protected from harsh cold temperatures throughout the winter.
Tea tree oil is often known as a type of ‘miracle oil’ for many conditions, and dry scalp is no exception. While cold weather can certainly play a large part in an itchy, flaking scalp, it’s important to understand that many times, the problem is some fungal infection.
In either instance, a daily application of tea tree oil to your scalp and hair can not only lock in moisture, encourage the production of natural oils, but will also kill off any potential fungus that may be living on your scalp without you even realizing it.
We tend to think about protecting other parts of our body throughout the cold weather months, but sometimes our head and scalp get ‘left behind,’ until we start to notice some problems occurring.
It’s important not to neglect your scalp – it needs just as much protection as other parts of the body to avoid a dry, flaky, and itchy winter ahead. Keep these tips and tricks in mind as the weather starts to turn colder and you’ll be able to enjoy a flake-free winter from now on, year after year.
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