I once thought there was something special about Summer, because our nappy hair thrived so much more. I always expected my hair to grow more in the warmer months. I'm not sure our scalps do something special as the temperatures rise, but nappy hair loves moisture. It's like a rainforest, growing lush with all the rain, and steamy humidity. I think if we avoid frying our heads in the hot sun, our strands become supple and we may retain more length.
Winter is the exact opposite. As much as we love to douse our heads in the warmer months and run outside while it's still damp--we imagine we'll all catch our deaths if we do the same in Winter. We may, especially if our bodies aren't accustomed to it. We can generally be reluctant to wash our hair as much. I know I've told myself in the past that our hair wasn't as dirty because we weren't sweating as much. I'd wash less and expose our hair to less moisture. I wanted styles to last longer and was tempted to send my girls out into the cold without their hats--especially on a Sunday when they were dolled up for worship services.
I was very misguided. Here are some simple changes I made to help us enjoy beautiful Winter hair because:
1. We may not sweat as much but dust and grime is still attracted to the natural oils or sebum our scalps produce. We still need to cleanse it regularly. Not washing will result in dirty smelling hair that no amount of dry cleansing, and topical moisture products will fix entirely.
2. Artificial heat is often dry heat, resulting in dry hair.
3. Harsh temperatures in general may stress our hair. Too cold may be just as taxing as too hot.
Here's what I do:
1. I continue to wash our hair regularly. You'll find me regularly sniffing my girl's heads. If my nose wriggles--I've waited too long to wash. In a pinch I will wash their hair however it is already braided up and let them be fuzzy until I can find the time to style again. My primary concern is keeping their scalp healthy because a healthy scalp will foster beautiful hair. If you know us in real life you'll testify that we can all look quite fuzzy at times--I can live with that.
I plan ahead. I don't use heat on my girls' hair--this includes hooded dryers. This means it takes HOURS for their hair to dry completely. In the Winter we wash early in the day and stay inside. If we must leave the house I make sure I give their heads enough time to dry to dampness. I will follow up by covering their heads with hats before we go into the cold air.
2. We save the loose styles and puffs for spring and summer. My exception for this is Mocha Baby, whose hair is still too silky and curly for a full head of braids/twists. I take special care to expose her hair to water daily as she splashes in her bath.
3. Spritz baby spritz! I've seen all kinds of concoctions. Consider your climate. Many moisturizing sprays contain humectants. They draw moisture from things to themselves. Your environment matters. If you are in a moist environment, humectants are great. They will draw the moisture in the environment to your hair. If your environment is dry, humectants will suck the moisture right out of your hair. Instead, you may want to look for an oil and water mix or simply spritz with water and then lightly coat the strands with oil.
4. Run a humidifier. This works to keep our hair AND skin supple while soothing our nasal passages and lungs.
5. Sleep cap or scarf to cover hair for bed. I use the synthetic caps/scarves, durags, satin caps, stocking caps found in beauty supply stores. These won't make the hair moist but will prevent the bedding and dry heat from leeching moisture from your hair.
6. Conditioning. Look for moisturizing conditioners, but avoid things containing too many silicones and parabens which can build up and require more shampooing to remove. I like Suave Naturals, Trader Joe's Refresh, Tresemme Naturals, Giovanni Direct. I really don't deep condition the girl's hair often...though I've read it's important. I think we are successful anyway because we never use heat and chemicals and constantly expose our hair to water. I do an occasional protein treatment (Aubrey organics GPB) for MG3 because her fine hair demands it.