I’ll be the first to admit that for the longest my solution for dealing with my curly hair during the fall and winter seasons was to straighten it with weekly blowouts. Sure, I’d rock my curls during the spring and summer but I had zero patience to take the taxing time to care for my rizos during the colder months. Trust me, I paid dearly. I dealt with heat-damaged curls for years. But after getting my curl cut this past September, I’m committed to keeping my curly hair healthy and bouncy even when it’s cold AF outside and I’m feeling lazier. I reached out to some of the best Latina curl experts in the biz who gave their tips and tricks on how to protect your curly hair this season along with product recommendations. Get ready to bring those curls out—even when the temperature drops!
Moisture is KEY.
“Colder temperatures makes the air drier which makes curls dry, brittle and frizzy and can eventually lead to shedding and breakage,” says Honey Baby Naturals founder and curl expert Aisha Ceballos-Crump. The Puerto Rican business owner was inspired by her own multicultural family when she decided to create a natural curly hair line. Her secret ingredient: honey. “It’s very important to moisturize your curls during the winter months because the dry, cold air strips the hair from it’s natural oils. Hydrating products with natural oils not only helps to restore moisture but it will help to prevent breakage and promotes hair growth without weighing the hair down.” Honey Baby Naturals Honey Sweet Softening Conditioner ($11) is formulated with milk protein and honey that leaves curls nourished, silky soft and strong. It’s a great rinse-out for the days you don’t have time to do a hair mask.
But you should STILL do hair masks regularly.
“In the winter you need to be hydrating your hair so I recommend doing a deep conditioning mask treatment every week or every other week because the cold definitely dries curls,” says Carolina Contreras, curl expert, founder of Miss Rizos Salon in Dominican Republic and a recent spokesperson for Dove. “For dry scalp especially, I love applying shea butter to my scalp and throughout my hair. You can actually make your own shea butter at home and add a little tea tree oil to it. It’s really good for your hair, face and body.” If you don’t have time to make your own shea butter treatment try Cantu Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque ($6). It works wonders.
Use a repairing mask.
To protect and repair curls from chemical processing, heat or environmental damage, try a rich deep conditioning treatment that’s going to nourish your hair back to life like Amika The Kure Intense Repair Mask ($38).
Consider a protein treatment.
“It truly depends on the condition of your hair but as a rule, I recommend protein treatments every 4-6 weeks,” says Ceballos-Crump. “Protein binds to hair fiber and strengthens cuticles to make them stronger and prevents damage. However, too much protein can have adverse effects causing dryness and breakage.” Opt for a protein treatment that’s also hydrating like SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Protein Power Treatment ($12) and remember not to overuse.
Incorporate hair oils into your routine.
“I love using [oils] in conjunction with moist heat therapy,” says curly hair expert and Dominican stylist Ona Diaz-Santin, also known as The Hair Saint. “I’ll use a clarifying shampoo, no conditioner and just replace with a good amount of oil. Warm up a wet wrung out towel, put it in the microwave for one minute and wrap it around your head and leave oil in overnight. [In the morning] follow with a light shampoo and conditioner.” Try Miss Jessie’s Grow Strong Mafura Hair Oil ($11).
Don’t be afraid of argan oil.
“I’m all about oils, I always have so much organ oil in my hair,” says Contreras. “All you have to do is just take a few drops and massage the oil on your scalp. You don’t have to drench your hair in oil. You can apply a little before washing as a nice pre-poo before the shampoo process and then shampoo it out. Or you can add it to washed hair before applying products.” Try Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil ($48).
Get yourself a detangling product.
“To prevent unwanted breakage, it’s very important to detangle each wash cycle and the best time to detangle hair is when it’s wet,” says Ceballos-Crump. “After you’ve washed your hair and conditioned it, use good tools and section your hair for easy and effective detangling. Remember to gently detangle the hair from the bottom and work your way up. Not only will you prevent breakage but you will save a ton of time styling your hair.” Try Honey Baby Naturals Knot My Honey Instant Detangler ($11).
Try a 1 minute hair mask.
For the days you’re pressed for time and on the go but your curls need a little bit more than a regular conditioner, opt for a treatment like Garnier Fructis Damage Repairing Treat 1 Minute Hair Mask with Papaya Extract ($8).
Look for a shampoo that cleanses AND moisturizes.
“You should always cleanse your hair with a moisturizing shampoo that doesn’t cause debris and build-up on the scalp,” says Ceballos-Crump. DevaCurl No-Poo Original ($22) is a sulfate-free, zero-lather cleansing formula that has become a cult favorite among curly haired girls for a reason.
A leave-in is a must.
“Dryness [caused by brutal winter weather] tends to cause the hair to break and shed during the winter months,” says Ceballos-Crump. “Leave-in conditioners are important because they help remove knots and tangles from the hair as well as protect the hair from breakage.” The DevaCurl Leave-In Decadence ($26) hydrates hair without weighing curls down.
Make curl jellies your friend.
Yes, curly jellies are a thing and they’re also one of the best things to happen to curly hair. A good curl jelly functions like a gel in terms of creating bounce and definition while also eliminating frizz. But it won’t leave hair hard and crunchy like traditional gels. Instead, you’ll be left with silky, soft defined curls. Try Camille Rose Curl Maker ($21). Curly hair influencers and bloggers swear by it.
Yes, you CAN still wash and go.
“I have found for me that styling in the early evening works best. Shampoo, condition and style,” says Diaz-Santin. “Then wait til product hardens and hair is dry before you go to bed. Do not break the cast (shake hair to soften the product crunch) until morning!”
Do a two-strand twist.
“There’s this really cool routine that I created a few years ago called the winter wash and go,” says Contreras. “The typical wash and go you wash your hair, section it, you apply products, and let curls dry and be. The winter wash and go is all those steps but actually twisting the hair in big chunks into two-strand twists. What happens when you do that, the hair drys when you sleep. When you take the twists out in the morning your hair will look like it was in a wash and go. It won’t look like a twist out.”
Don’t be afraid to diffuse.
“A lot of people think that diffusers or hooded dryers harm the hair but it absolutely doesn’t,” adds Contreras. “I’ve been doing it for the past two years now and it’s completely okay. Getting under a hooded dryer for thirty minutes is not going to ruin your curls.” Contreras says direct heat is what ultimately causes heat-damage suggesting that you don’t even have to use your diffuser on low heat settings necessarily. Just make sure you’re not keeping the diffuser head in one specific section for too long. Move it around. Try Conair Volumizing Diffuser Attachment ($8).
Refresh curls in the morning.
“I would first recommend possibly washing the night before and using a curl refresher in the morning,” says Ceballos-Crump. “However for those on the go, I would recommend drying the curls with a microfiber towel and not using tons of products on the hair, which takes the hair longer to dry. Try using a hydrating curl refresher or a light-weight leave-in conditioner.” Check out Rizos Curls Refresh & Detangle Spray ($18).
Kill the dry shampoo myth.
“There’s a lot of misunderstandings with certain products and curly hair … when it comes to dry shampoo, curly girls can absolutely use a dry shampoo,” says Contreras who recommends Dove Refresh + Care Fresh Coconut Dry Shampoo ($5). “With the dry shampoo, what’s important is to make sure that you’re using it 8 to 12 inches away from your hair because a lot of times you do it so close it leaves your hair white and chalky.”
Keep your scalp balanced.
“I’m a huge fan of the balance line by System Professional,” says Diaz-Santin. “It gently cares for scalp with a skin-friendly ph. The gentle surfactant system and calming ingredients moisturizes hair and scalp without drying it further.” Try System Professional Balance Shampoo ($24).