How to keep your hair healthy and hydrated through the winter months

Woman washing her hair
'Hair' our some top tips from the experts. Photo credit: Supplied

It's well and truly winter in Aotearoa. In Tāmaki Makaurau it's now taking at least 10 minutes for the condensation to clear from my car windows (as if driving on the North Shore could be any more dangerous), and I can comfortably wear Dr Martens and leather without breaking a sweat. 

Although cosy nights by the heater and brisk walks on a crisp, clear day are some of the highlights of the season, the conditions can wreak havoc on our hair. Wave goodbye to the tousled, sun-bleached tresses of the summer and say hello to a weather-beaten barnet of dry, snarled strands.

Unfortunately, blustery winds, central heating and dry, icy air are a recipe for disaster, capable of turning the most maintained mane into a matted mess. Wild weather and harsh conditions can cause the hair to become dehydrated and damage-prone, making it brittle and more susceptible to breakage than during the warmer months. 

Thankfully, keeping your tresses in tip-top shape isn't rocket science. With a little extra care, the right products and simple habits, you can keep your hair healthy and hydrated throughout the colder months. The secret is upping the ante with your hair care routine by picking nourishing, high-quality products with rich and fortifying ingredients to lock in moisture and combat damage.

To help, the hair care heroes at cosmetics giant Lush have shared their top tips and picks to weatherproof your locks this winter - so hair you go.

Woman smiling in ski gear
Here's how to maintain your mane against the elements. Photo credit: Getty Images

Let your hair down

"A major key to ensuring minimal damage to your hair this winter is restraining from the use of heat. From straighteners to hair dryers, any heat on your hair can be damaging," the team told Newshub.

"For better hair health, try letting your hair air-dry this winter - an easy way to avoid unnecessary heat."

If frizz and flyaways are some of your primary concerns, Lush recommends its Revive hair treatment - a concoction of avocado butter, jojoba, oat milk and olive and coconut oils designed to combat breakage and lock in moisture. Although the product is designed for coily and Afro hair, the treatment can be used on all types of tresses to hydrate, protect and finish your style.

If you are going to bust out the blow dryer, make sure you're using a heat protectant, whether it be an oil, a spray, a cream or a serum. The product creates a barrier between your barnet and the tool when applied before heat styling, helping to minimise the damage to your hair. Our top picks would be the ghd Bodyguard Heat Protectant Spray, the Kérastase Genesis Heat Protectant Thermique, or for a more affordable option, the Ogx Argan Oil Of Morocco Shine & Heat Protect Spray.

Scalps need love, too

"We often forget that great hair starts at the roots. In times when our hair and scalp starts to dry, turn to a scalp-nourishing shampoo," the team advised.

Their recommendation? The Lush Wasabi Shan Kui shampoo - a blend of stimulating herbs, horseradish and wasabi to exfoliate and invigorate the scalp while adding a boost of volume to dry and lank locks.

Alternatively, opt for a clarifying treatment to remove any build-up, excess oil and dead skin for a healthier, cleaner and moisturised scalp - no more pesky flakes snowcapping your shoulders. Our recommendations include Sunday Riley's Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum and The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Scrub: a gentle scrub formulated with chemical and physical exfoliators to protect and balance the scalp's microbiome and keep the hair follicles clean. It also helps to remove any build-up of product and dead skin to leave the hair looking healthy.

How to keep your hair healthy and hydrated through the winter months
Photo credit: Supplied

Wash less regularly

"The longer you leave between washes, the better. In winter, with the weather conditions doing a number on our locks, excess build-up of natural oils gives the hair better protection," the experts explained.

For optimal results, the team recommends washing your hair just once a week - queue cringing from my colleagues. Of course, this isn't doable for everyone - but if you're able, dropping at least one wash per week will help to retain the hair's natural moisture. During the latter half of the week (when your head is looking as greasy as a deep-fryer), you can always slick your locks into a sleek bun or ponytail, or add a bit of dry shampoo to help your hair go the distance. 

To boast bodacious locks when the once-a-week wash rolls around, we recommend the Redken Volume Injection Shampoo - a volumising formula for fine or flat hair designed to gently cleanse while adding lift and volume. It's formulated with a body-boosting blend of Filloxane and softening and silicone polymers for a polished, silky finish that doesn't strip your strands. 

Alternatively, the Kérastase Resistance Bain Volumifique Thickening Shampoo is also a good bet, providing volume, texture and a deep cleanse from root to tip - without leaving the ends dry and parched. It's an ideal choice for anyone with thin hair who doesn't want to compromise on hydration.

How to keep your hair healthy and hydrated through the winter months
Photo credit: Supplied

Great hair - with one condition 

As the weather starts to cool, we know our hair becomes more vulnerable to damage as the dry air strips it of its moisture, which can result in dullness and brittleness. To combat this, the experts recommend adding Lush American Cream Conditioner to the roster: an infusion of orange, vanilla and strawberry with honey and lavender oil. The smells-good-enough-to-eat formula results in high-shine hair that's soft and easy to manage - so say goodbye to dull, dry and lacklustre ends. 

On the other hand, the Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner - often touted as the ultimate hair hero - has a rep for a reason. The hair-strengthening and reparative treatment, the finishing step in the brand's No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 Bond Maintenance System, works to restore and intensely hydrate the tresses without adding excess weight. The conditioner claims to add a boost of hydration while helping to eliminate damage and combat unruly frizz, leaving the locks looking stronger, healthier and shinier.

How to keep your hair healthy and hydrated through the winter months
Photo credit: Supplied

Colour your hair the healthy way

The winter months are typically when we experience the most damage from synthetic dyes. If you're committed to your colour but want to trial a more natural option, the experts recommend the new Lush Reformulated Henna range.

A 100 percent natural alternative, henna coats the cuticle in a protective, translucent layer that boosts volume and shine, while also acting as a natural colourant. Henna offers a gentle substitute for synthetic, permanent dyes, as well as a smooth consistency for ease of application - particularly on Afro hair and locs.

How to keep your hair healthy and hydrated through the winter months
Photo credit: Supplied