Along my curly hair journey, I’ve learned a thing or two about tending to natural hair. I can rattle off a list of product my hair loves, and I can tell you exactly what leaves my strands looking less-than-stellar. On the list of things my hair dislikes, winter weather holds the top spot. When temperatures drop, my usually bouncy curls begin to look dull and dehydrated. Those with textured hair are naturally prone to dryness (it has to do with the curvy shape of each strand), but chilly conditions zap my hair’s moisture even more.
Figuring out how to lock in hydration and protect my natural hair during the winter months can often be a bit frustrating. That’s why I turned to five natural hair experts for their tips on how to put an end to this winter hair dilemma once and for all. Plus, they revealed the products and tools they use to keep their clients’ curls healthy all season long. Keep scrolling to read their advice.
Nai'Vasha Johnson, celebrity hair artist and groomer
Her tip: "I recommend always covering and protecting your hair from the harsh winter elements with a hat or scarf. The wind can be brutal on the health of our hair. You can also maintain moisture by being gentle with your curls and incorporating less heat-styling."
Her go-to product: When it comes to restoring moisture, Johnson turns to hair steamers. She says applying a conditioning mask and sitting under a hooded steamer like SSLine's Hair Steamer ($79) is the key to maintaining healthy coils when the winter chill sets in.
Joe Ortiz, curl cut stylist and educator
His tip: “Trim your hair at least once during the winter—that way, your ends will stay healthier and stronger. If you don't, the cold weather will more likely dry your ends, and you will end up losing more length come spring. It’s also important to wash your hair, dry your curls, and then go. Your hair should be dried with medium heat most of the time."
His go-to product: In his salon, Ortiz regularly uses Afro & Rizo's Co-Wash ($27) on his clients. The cleansing conditioner removes buildup from your hair without having to use shampoo. The potent blend of organic nutrients in the co-wash provides curly hair with intense hydration and leaves each strand soft and shiny.
Evan Joseph, founder of Evan Joseph Salon
His tip: “Amp up your in-salon conditioning treatment. Conditioning treatments have come a long way, not only for the hair but the scalp too. Look for salons who offer elevated treatments. I like to hydrate the scalp and hair on a deeper level by using a warm microscopic mist of water (we do this using our Spa Mist II treatment machines from Takara Belmont). Conditioning treatments are like a facial for your hair and scalp. They help to deeply hydrate and deliver nourishing ingredients when your hair needs it most."
His go-to products: A product Joseph keeps in rotation during the winter is Oway's Sooth Remedy ($50). The scalp treatment is infused with a healing blend of chamomile (to calm and soothe your scalp), zanthoxylum flower (to provide relief from irritation), and organic aloe vera (to moisturize and promote healthy hair growth). Biodynamic Chamomile calms and soothes the scalp. Joseph also recommends Briogeo's Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Treatment ($36)—a mask that contains rosehip and argan oils, vitamin B, collagen, and silk—to help restore hydration and vibrancy to dull curls.
Candace Witherspoon, founder of Candace Witherspoon Salon
Her tip: "Protective styling is a great option for December, January, and February. There are so many great styles out there like box braids, twist outs, and cornrows. With any protective style being worn, try not to keep it in longer than two months. Make sure to moisturize your scalp once a week by applying oil to it directly as well. Even though the hair is protected, the scalp still needs to be taken care of."
Her go-to products: Witherspoon often reaches for Ecru's New York Acacia Masque ($34) when she is trying to amp up the moisture in her clients' curls, as the intensive treatment works to reinvigorate dry, damaged hair. By replenishing much-needed nutrients, the Ecru masque makes curls silky, shiny, and strong.
Latoya Moore, stylist at DevaChan Soho
Her tips: "Maintaining your bouncy, shiny curls and coils during the harsh winter months requires more cream-based products (think: leave-in conditioners, styling creams, and hair lotions) to prevent breakage. Oils will not keep it moisturized as it just sits on the hair. I know we grew up thinking a hot oil treatment was the golden standard for curls, but I’ve learned water and oil aren't friends. Applying oils on curly or coily hair creates a barrier so that the moisture won’t be absorbed."
Her go-to products: Out of the dozens of DevaCurl products Moore uses, her wintertime favorite is the DevaCurls' Heaven in Hair Deep Conditioning Treatment ($28). It's a deep conditioning treatment with cacao seed, Murumuru, and Cupuaçu butters. Each one helps to moisturize and smooth frizzy, parched curls. [Ed. note: some consumers have expressed concern over the side effects of DevaCurl, so take this into consideration before using.]