Avoid These Winter Hair Care Mistakes For Healthier Strands

The crisp air and frigid temperatures, combined with the dry-heated indoor spaces of winter, can cause a myriad of irritating conditions, like dry hands, chapped lips, and even damaged hair (via Self). But with the right care and precautions, you can protect not only your locks but also your hands and lips against the harsh winter weather. It may be tricky to break some of these habits at first, especially if you're in the dark as to how they could possibly be the culprit of damaged hair and split ends during this brisk season.

However, once you understand the reason behind the winter hair care mistakes you might be making, implementing the right shifts will come quite naturally. And don't worry — hiding all your hair beneath a hat or avoiding the outdoors altogether aren't real solutions. Chances are we would all like a head of healthy, lush hair year-round. Here are some steps toward increasing your chances of achieving this. After all, winter is coming.

Don't go outside with wet hair

Maybe you're pretty low-maintenance when it comes to your tresses and often skip the blow-dryer for air drying. But from November through March, this seemingly carefree (even healthy!) habit could actually be leading to some major breakage and split ends. "Anything that's cold expands, and that's what can happen with your wet hair shaft in the cold weather, which puts you at risk for breakage and makes your color fade faster," said James Corbett, owner of James Corbett Studio and global color consultant for Clairol, in an interview with Self. If temperatures are low enough, your wet hair can even break off outside (via HuffPost).

Try not to blow-dry your hair right after showering

This may seem counterintuitive, but plugging in the hair dryer and directing it straight at your dripping wet hair is actually pretty harmful. "Using that much heat on soaking-wet hair heats up the water on the hair strands before it is able to evaporate," said Angela Onuoha, a board-certified trichologist and Tangle Teezer ambassador, via Refinery29. "This will literally make it boiling hot." Instead, try towel-drying your hair first and wait a bit before applying any heat. It will take some patience, but the preventive benefits are well worth it.

Go darker

The chemicals required to lighten your hair cause damage, and there's just really no other way around it. So, if you can tolerate it, opt to go darker for winter — even if it's just a shade or two. And hey, the new color palette may even be a pleasant surprise. "Anytime you can switch off is good. Platinum is awesome, but it's so incredibly damaging for the hair," said James Corbett, owner of James Corbett Studio and global color consultant for Clairol, via Self.

Don't expose hair to super hot water

If you've ever noticed your hair is extra frizzy and dry after soaking in a hot tub, the temperature of the water is likely the culprit. "Superhot water is drying all around, for your skin, scalp, and, of course, the hair," said colorist Jehnna Mahoney at Kennaland Studio, per HuffPost. "Rinsing your hair with moderately hot or warm water helps to maintain hair health without freezing you out of the shower and won't cause further dryness." Indeed, it might be tempting to take a scalding hot shower if you live in an area with sub-zero temperatures, but try to at least avoid putting your hair directly into the hot water and lower the heat when it's time to shampoo.

Try hydrating treatments

A weekly hair masque or deep conditioning treatment is a relaxing way to maximize your hair's health during the cold, winter months. "Once a week, you should baby your hair: Slather conditioner on and take 30 minutes for the moisture to penetrate into the hair shaft," said James Corbett, owner of James Corbett Studio and global color consultant for Clairol, via Self. Try this ritual, along with a moisturizing face masque and maybe even a DIY manicure, for a full spectrum wintertime self-care celebration.

Choose your hat wisely

This one may come as a surprise; after all, how harmful can a hat really be? But the material, especially one you regularly wear, could be causing additional breakage in the wintertime. What is particularly counterintuitive is that warm fabrics you typically associate with cold weather aren't your hair's best friend (via Self). "Avoid or minimize contact with wool, cotton, and similar fabrics to avoid snagging or tearing of strands and the zapping of moisture," said Ebony Bomani, a master cosmetologist and an educator for the Mane Choice, in an email with Self. "Whenever possible, opt for hats that are lined with silk or satin, so your hair can glide about freely and hold on to its moisture."

Nix any alcohol-based hair products

When it comes to hair, it can certainly be a challenge to avoid alcohol-based products, as most sprays (for hold, texture, or volume) contain, you guessed it, alcohol. And this probably isn't an ingredient you typically scan for when perusing the hair care aisle. "Alcohol is added to sprays, so the product dries quickly and doesn't ruin or change the shape of the style," said colorist Jehnna Mahoney at Kennaland Studio, via HuffPost. "When we are combating winter dryness, it's best to avoid these."

Opt for a wood comb over plastic

According to Stone Fox Hair, a wooden comb won't cause static, as this material doesn't conduct electricity compared to plastic. Your wooden comb is actually kind of like a magic wand, and you'll definitely want to pull it out when temperatures drop. Not only that, but they also absorb and help move your scalp's natural oils, which plastic just isn't capable of. If your scalp is extra oily, but the ends of your hair are super dry, this is also an oil distribution issue — and a wooden comb will solve the problem (via Be Beautiful).