How to combat cold-weather hair damage

Winter is officially in full swing, and dreams of tanning on a beach somewhere tropical are at the forefront of our minds. But, while the weather’s so cold it feels like going outside should be illegal, most of us aren’t lucky enough to be jetting off anywhere remotely warm and sunny to sit out the rest of the season. Which means having to cope with what we’ve got.

Even if you are suitably prepped to emotionally handle the impending big freeze, here’s a newsflash: your hair isn’t. Exposure to the cold can significantly damage hair over time, and it is important to know what these signs of damage are, and how to treat them. If you want to give your hair a surviving chance this winter, read on…

THE PROBLEM: Cold weather can make your hair dry

You know how icy, bitter temperatures can turn your hands into dry, shrivelled red things? Well, as it turns out, it can have a similar impact on your hair, too (just without the shrivelling or redness, obviously). Research suggests that harsh weather dehydrates hair, making it brittle and more prone to breakage- in other words, those pesky split ends.

THE SOLUTION: Rehydration station

The only way to give your hair some hydration is by, well, giving it some hydration. The easiest way to hydrate hair is to apply oil, such as coconut, almond or argan oil, especially focusing on the ends. It works well to leave it on overnight as a hair mask, and wash it off the next morning in the shower.

Aside from oils, get yourself a good hydrating conditioner and try to use it twice a week. There are specific conditioners developed to treat dry hair types, so have a shop around your local drugstore and see what you can find.

THE PROBLEM: Winter makes hair dull

There’s a bit of obvious science behind this one: there’s a distinct lack of sun in the winter, which means your hair isn’t absorbing those essential vitamin D nutrients that it so badly needs. It’s no wonder hair loses its glossy summer shine as the winter months plough on. Even worse, as vitamin D is needed to stimulate new and old hair follicles, it has been proven that a lack of the nutrient can lead to hair loss in extreme cases.

THE SOLUTION: Supplement, baby

Of course, no vitamin D supplement beats the real thing, but when the real thing is in short supply, we have to make do with what we’ve got. Vitamin D supplements aren’t overly expensive, and they’re easy to find in your local health store. If you’re after a way to bring back some natural shine to your locks this winter, supplements will certainly help.

Supplements aside, there are plenty of shine-boosting hair masks and mists that you can apply on a regular basis over the colder months to give your hair a bit of TLC.

THE PROBLEM: Cold weather causes split ends

Blame lack of hydration for this. Dryer, more brittle hair is more prone to splitting, which can be frustrating if you’re currently willing yours to grow to meet your seemingly impossible standards (we’ve all been there).

THE SOLUTION: Oil it up

The best solution for split ends is to apply oil to the ends of your hair regularly. Coconut oil, being one of the most popular hair treatments, is very moisturising, and applying it regularly will help keep your hair soft, nourished and hydrated, minimising the formation of split ends.

Be warned, though, the only way to completely banish your split ends is to cut them off, so oil is no miraculous hair-saver. We would advise that you visit your hairdresser’s regularly over the winter, so they can snip off the bad bits, which will encourage your hair to grow at a faster rate and give you a neater ‘do.

Laura Shallcross