Black Hair Care Guide: How to Winterize Your Hair

Found this article on a site called I thought it was well-written and contained some good solid information and reminders about caring for nappy hair so I’d thought I’d share. Enjoy! 

Date updated: April 20, 2007
By Tina Johnson-Marcel

With hundreds of hair care products on the market, making the right choice can be confusing. But caring for ethnic hair comes with its own challenges.

African-American hair is more prone to breakage and dryness especially in the winter. It may look tougher, but it’s actually more fragile than Caucasian hair.

Trying to find the right products, choosing the right styles and sticking to a maintenance schedule can prove a hassle.

And some of the “tried-and-true” advice for other ethnic groups is just plain wrong for African-American hair.

So let’s demystify some of those common misconceptions:

  • Heavy, oily products are best for my hair because its so dry in winter.

Back away from the heavy products. It makes sense that people want to grab the heavy body lotions and creams to soothe their dry skin during the winter, but it doesn’t work for their hair, says dermatologist Andrew Alexis, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

“Greasy products may actually [clog hair follicles and] cause other problems including scalp folliculitis and acne on the forehead and temples [pomade acne],” he says.

Silicone-based products are best for use as daily hair moisturizers. (Hint: The label won’t say silicone. Look out for dimethicone as a key ingredient.)

  • I can wash my hair every day.

It depends on the hair type and texture. Very kinky to curly hair tends to be drier.  If your hair is natural — no chemical process has been added to your hair — it’s OK to rinse it everyday in the shower as long as a light conditioner is used, says Tyama Arawole, a natural hair care consultant with clients in Washington, D.C., and New York.

“Natural hair loves water, but it’s still important to keep it protected,” she says. The extra curly hair cuticle — or outer layer — makes it more difficult for the oil secreted from the scalp to reach the ends of the hair, so don’t forget to moisturize the hair, she says.

For relaxed hair — chemically processed for a straighter look — washing the hair once weekly is recommended. That’s why it’s important to lay off the heavy, petrolatum-based (petroleum jelly) products, Alexis says. “Excessive washing can dry out relaxed hair, but you don’t want to weigh it down with heavy product,” he adds. Use light moisturizers and avoid excessive heat. And when you do wash it, make sure you use a deep conditioner.

  • Greasing the scalp will help with dry-scalp syndrome.

No, it won’t. “If your scalp is excessively dry, applying oil to it will not help — you may have a different problem,” Alexis says. A flaky scalp is sometimes caused by a type of yeast overgrowth on the skin, resulting in a condition known as sebhorreic dermatitis.

Since scalp is skin, it’s susceptible to the same conditions as skin on the other parts of the body — acne,  folliculitis or impetigo. It’s best to see a dermatologist if your dry scalp persists.

  • It’s cold outside, so I have to wear a hat almost everyday.

“Hats can be very damaging to hair, especially for men, so it’s important to keep hair moisturized [with a light oil] or to wear hats with natural fibers,” says Ousmane Toure, owner of the AfriCentrics Braids, Locs & Barber Salon in Baltimore.

  • If my hair is braided, I don’t have to do anything to it.

Yes, you do. First, it’s important to start off with a healthy head of hair, Toure says. If your hair is damaged, you should not wear an extension-braided style.

Stylists recommend a protein treatment, followed by a good conditioner to repair damaged hair before braiding it. If you do wear braids, be sure to wash your hair at least once a week. It’s not OK to go longer than a week. Because you’re not brushing or combing your hair on a daily basis, dirt and oil have more time to build up.

Braids are a good alternative when you want to give your hair a break from constant heat styling — curling irons and flat irons — but don’t overdo it! Depending on the style, most experts recommend wearing your braids anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months.

8 Responses to “Black Hair Care Guide: How to Winterize Your Hair”
  1. outremount says:

    Very informative article, thanks for sharing.

  2. nappyme says:

    You’re welcome. I think the only think I took exception to in this artical is the part about not wearing a hat. I’d think that as long as you wear hats that are silk lined, so that you don’t have any rough fibers rubbing against your hair you’d be ok. Other than that, it really is a good article.

  3. Brinas5 says:

    I’ve always known that wearing hats in the winter will dry out my hair. What are natural fibers? Would it be better to find a hat that has lining on the inside?
    I’m actually transitioning from a perm to natural and my front edges are VERY fragile.

  4. nappyme says:

    Hi Brianas and welcome to NPP101!

    Yes a lined had would work just fine. Wool is a common fiber used in hats and in addition, even synthetic fibers can wreck havoc on your hair. So don’t let them next to your precious strands.

    Good luck with your transition. And come back soon.

  5. Oneya says:

    are braid outs okay for the winter?

  6. nappyme says:

    The winter air is drying out everyone’s hair so if you’re going to be wearing it out, in styles like braid outs and twist outs, make sure you’re doing extra things to condition ,moisturize and protect those ends (e.g., deep conditioning, using good sealants etc.)

    I wore a puff for about three weeks and I swear my hair just felt like a big dry wool pad after awhile so I finally broke down and put my hair back into twists.

    Good luck with your braidout if you decided to do it!

  7. Micheli says:

    i thought ‘cones were a no-no…it’s all so confusing!

  8. nappyme says:

    Micheli it depends on what your hair does and does not respond to. I couldn’t care less about cones in my conditioner or any other product. My hair doesn’t seem to care about whether or not there are cones in a product so I don’t avoid them. I personally thought the only folks who cared about cones were people who no-pooed religiously and were worried about build up or some such. If you’re using something with cones in it and your getting good results, continue to use the product. Otherwise discontinue its use and find one that doesn’t have cones in it. To me, it’s really as simple as that.

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