The other night I found myself in a mild panic thinking I was without one of my most precious nighttime accessories: the silk scarf I use to tie up my hair before bed. Sure, I was afraid of messing up the braids I plan on rocking for another two weeks, but the thought of not wrapping my hair in a protective barrier to shield it from the moisture-leaching cotton pillowcase on which I was about to lay my head? Terrifying.

It’s difficult to keep my hair hydrated and happy in general, but that is especially true in the winter (no thanks to the fickle, smoggy climate us New Yorkers are blessed with, I’m sure). This got me thinking about all the femmes I see while scrolling Instagram whose tresses shine like the glossy lids of my dreams, whose curls have bounce to rival that of a Steph Curry dribble, nary a wisp out of place or a kinky coil askew no matter the time of year. I’ve always wondered how they do it. How the hell do they keep their hair looking so damn good when it’s so damn cold? And then I realized I could just ask, which is what I promptly did.

Below, winter hair care tips, tricks and go-to products from four women whose hair makes me want to put my head in a paper bag until spring. Just kidding, I love my hair — but will probably love it more after taking some of the following advice. By the way, what are your winter hair hacks? I’ll be waiting in the comments to hear them all.

Trinity Mouzon Wofford

 

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What is your typical hair care routine? 

I co-wash and detangle my hair every week or two (or three — at the risk of forming a couple of dreadlocks) — usually over the weekend. I section my hair in six pieces and work my co-wash of choice into wet hair, section by section. While I’m working the co-wash in, I’m also finger detangling each section to break up any knots and remove any shed hairs. Once that’s done, I’ll rinse thoroughly (ideally with cold water — easier said than done in the winter!).

Following that I wrap my hair in an old cotton T-shirt (doesn’t strip your hair of moisture/create frizz like a towel! Cheaper than fancy microfiber stuff!) and leave that on until my hair is 80% dry — about an hour. Once I take the towel off my hair is “stretched” — much easier to work with, able to retain way more moisture and gets less tangled. From there I’ll apply a bunch of whipped shea butter to seal in the moisture, put it into six-ish braids, and be on my merry way. A tightly wrapped satin scarf is critical at this time to smooth down my edges.

How do you keep your hair hydrated? Any go-to winter products?

I really like to do a cleansing mask every month to remove buildup and soften my hair. I find that my hair gets most dry/brittle when I haven’t done this in a while — the buildup prevents any moisture from really penetrating my strands. I make the mask with equal parts apple cider vinegar and bentonite clay stirred together with a wooden spoon. I add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to keep it from over-stripping my hair. I apply this mask in sections to damp hair and it instantly detangles and softens. Leave it on for 10-30 mins, rinse out and condition as usual.

I’m not a big product junkie at all — I just use Brio-Geo’s quinoa co-wash. For whipped shea butter I’ll use Lauren’s All Purpose or Hanahana Beauty. I know I’m supposed to deep condition, but who can afford those tiny jars of product anyways?

Lauren Sundstrom

 

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What is your typical hair care routine? 

I remember Jonathan Van Ness talking about how he doesn’t wash his hair often, even after the gym! He’ll blow dry in the natural oils that result. I’ve been doing that and I’ve been living for it. Thanks for the tip, JVN — now I wash my hair maybe twice a week, if that.

I use a lot of Lush products in my hair. I love Trichomania — it’s a solid shampoo that’s great for dry hair. It has creamed coconut and coconut oil in it so it won’t strip my hair. It’s very low foaming too! Plus it saves a few plastic bottles, which is nice. I follow up with Retread Conditioner.

How do you keep it hydrated? Any go-to winter products?

Don’t wash your hair too often. Your tresses need their natural oils to stay as soft and moisturized as possible. My secret weapon is this one Lush product called Shield that’s not available in shops yet. It was sold at an event called the Lush Showcase in Manchester, England. I really hope it becomes part of the regular product line because it’s FAB. A great alternative that I use from time to time is the Ouai Leave-In Conditioner. Both brands are cruelty-free, too. Anything that adds hydration to the hair is key for me.

Anaa Saber

 

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What is your typical hair care routine?

My hair care routine is really simple: I prioritize using high-quality shampoos and conditioners. My all-time favorite includes Amika’s Velveteen Dream and Rahua’s natural shampoo. When using heat products the equation is simple, counter heat tools with serums and oils. Once a month I’ll do a hair mask, but I prefer using oil in my hair instead at least once a week.

I typically wash my hair every other day — if I don’t she gets oily real quick. I always air dry, mostly to stay away from heat damage.

How do you keep your hair hydrated? Any go-to winter products?

For generations, the secret to silky South Asian locks has been in oils (almond oil, coconut oil, mustard oil, olive oil). My personal favorite has always been almond oil. Since I was young, hair has always been a special ritual and form of bonding in my family. I’d sit down in front of my grandmother, aunt or mother and chat with them while they lather and massage oil into my scalp. Follow steps below for shiny/silky hair. Try to do this once a week if you can:

1.) Pour Almond Amla oil into a bowl and warm up slightly.
2.) Lather in roots and massage into scalp until completely covered in oil.
3.) Place a towel over your pillow and sleep with the oil in your hair. The longer the oil seeps into your hair the better the results are.
4.) Thoroughly wash hair in the shower the next morning. You must shampoo and rinse TWICE in order to remove all excess oil.
5.) Dry your hair, and repeat these steps once a week and watch your hair transform!

In addition to Amla Almond Oil, my go-to winter products are Amika Heat Defense Serum, Ouai Anti Frizz sheets, Rahua Shampoo, and Dry Bar Dry Shampoo.

Lauren Valenti

 

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What is your typical hair care routine? 

Once to twice a week, I go to sleep with a mask (either Olaplex or the thickest hydrating mask I can find in the beauty closet), then in the morning, I cleanse and condition my hair with Shu Uemura’s Urban Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner per the recommendation of my brilliant colorist Matt Rez. If I’m being good, I’ll have finger combed my inevitable tangles out beforehand to minimize damage. When I step out of the shower, I soak up the excess water with a microfiber towel, get out any last kinks with a Wet Brush, and divide the hair into four sections. I spread a light amount of styling cream — typically Ouidad’s Advanced Climate Control Featherlight Styling Cream — throughout, and then vigorously scrunch.

If I want to amp things up, I add Dyson’s Supersonic Hair Dryer and diffuser attachment to the mix. Otherwise I just let it air dry. Afterwards, I flip my head over and shake out my hair the from the roots to tips for extra volume and fluffiness. In between washes, I pineapple my hair on top of my head and sleep on a silk pillowcase. In the morning, I wet my hair in the shower or reset my curls with a spray water bottle (my true secret weapon), then scrunch it again with a few mists of Leonor Greyl’s Algues et Fleurs Leave-In Curl Enhancing Spray. It never weighs my hair down and smells heavenly.

How do you keep it hydrated? Any go-to winter products?

Between winter’s bone-dry conditions and cozy scarves causing labyrinthine tangles at the nape, my curls require much more love and patience during the colder months. It’s all about deep conditioning, as well as looking after the status of my curl pattern to keep definition and springy-ness in check day-to-day.

Shu Uemura’s sumptuous Urban Moisture range, which is designed to rebalance moisture levels while removing environmental pollutants, and broken hair bond-rebuilding Olaplex does wonders for a bottle blonde with parched strands living in New York City.

Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton

 

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What is your typical hair care routine? 

I wash every other day, sometimes every three days. I’m a morning showerer, exclusively. When I don’t want to dry my hair (90% of the time), I use label.m’s Age Defying Radiance Oil, add in Christophe Robin’s Leave-in Detangling Mist, brush it all out and add a touch of Bumble and bumble.’s Don’t Blow It Styling Product. On the days where I don’t wash my hair, I throw in a bit of sea spray for texture.

Tip: Use oil-based products to keep your hair shiny and hydrated. Never blow dry your hair before brushing it — I use Wet Brush religiously.

How do you keep it hydrated? Any go-to winter products?

I use the radiance oil and of course, stay drinking agua!

Does a Dyson hair dryer count as a winter product? I say this because my products don’t change but I do blow dry more frequently [in the winter].  I think the reason that I have strong hair is due to the fact that I don’t blow dry it often. Not because I think it’s unhealthy — I’m just not a fan; I’m full-on lazy when it comes to my hair. But Dyson has made it easier and more enjoyable because it’s quicker. I also use the Acquis Hair towel to speed up the drying process.

Feature image via Anaa Saber

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