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Ask CurlyNIkki: Should I Change My Hair Care Regimen as the Seasons Change?

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Curly NIkki LEAD

Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

READER QUESTION: Do I really need to change my hair care regimen as the weather cools?  If so, what do you recommend?

CURLYNIKKI's RESPONSE: Regimen tweaks are truly something to consider as the seasons change.  Your curls, which are already prone to dryness, crave even more moisture the cooler and drier it gets. It is advised that we avoid humectants in the winter. Common humectants include honey, glycerin, panthenol, hydrolized wheat protein, and propylene glycol. These ingredients are great summer staples because they draw moisture from the humid air into our thirsty strands. But during the winter, they can have the opposite effect, potentially drawing out the moisture from our strands into the drier atmosphere. For this reason, I shelve many of my favorite conditioners and stylers until summer rolls back around. I don't, however, avoid humectants in products that I rinse out, such as my instant conditioners and deep treatments.

In my experience, to be quite honest, my hair, no matter the season, is not really a fan of glycerin. Glycerin makes my fine, porous hair swell in the humid summer months, dries it out in the winter, and when overused, no matter the season, yields frizzy, undefined, greasy sets. I have to break out the kid gloves when playing with glycerin. My hair likes some glycerin-laden products, but others, not so much. It's all trial and error for me. Like Wanda Sykes said, "It's like a damn science lab!"  Remember that no two heads are alike. You may do just fine with glycerin in the winter. As always, try it out, assess, and then determine how best to proceed.

Here are a few additional tips for winterizing your curls:

  • Consider updos to protect your hair (especially your delicate ends) from the elements. Central heat, bitter winds, and the vents in your car that blast heat on high can all wreak havoc on your strands. I'm not really into hiding my hair, but I do tend to bun more often in the winter.

  • Deep-treat at every styling session.  When I was doing this, my hair was exquisite. All it takes is 15 minutes. And don't forget your micro-heat cap — it really does make a difference!

  • Look for satin-lined hoods and hats to keep the wool and cotton from wicking the moisture from your curls and/or causing breakage. Plus, the satin lining will help prevent hat hair! I'm too cool for hats, but I do line my coat collar with a satin scarf to keep my ends from catching on the rough material.

  • Opt for moisturizing curl creams, not gels, for the winter months. Save the gels for summer. Moisture is the goal, and a styler that has moisturizing properties is a win-win.


Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural hair care, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.

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