The cold winter months bring about a different type of vibe, especially when it comes to self-care. If you are anything like me, you go into complete hibernation mode, and only venture out when necessary (shoutout to Instacart!). Even still, that cold, dry, wintry feel is in the air, and your hair and scalp respond almost immediately in ways that simply make you feel like shaving all your hair off and pulling a Brittney Spears (lbvs).
Due to the lack of moisture in the air and cold temperatures, winter weather is especially harsh for hair and scalp, causing frizziness, dryness, tangling, breakage, shedding, fairy knots, and even seasonal hair loss. Because of the cold, the hair cuticle lifts, therefore it is difficult for your hair to retain moisture. A lack of moisturize causes a downward spiral of all things hair damage :(
Additionally, the wintertime brings a different type of stress which can also wreak havoc when it comes to your hair and scalp. Between the holidays, spending money (that maybe you just do not have), and family obligations, your stress is REAL and FELT. Stress triggers your cortisol (the primary stress hormone) to increase, which not only can contribute to weight gain, but also increases sebum production in your scalp (increased oil production which can cause scalp irritation). Stress hormones may also trigger other skin irritations, including eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.
Not to mention…COVID-19, which all on its own is stress-defined. We canNOT escape it. Between the news, social media, or personally experiencing the impact of it, the coronavirus is a very present stressor.
So, when you add these forces together, along with the winter weather, your hair and scalp can definitely manifest the impact of each of those factors in the form of dry scalp and brittle hair.
Not to worry, sis! Here are 12 suggestions to help combat these challenges, as well as encourage a self-care routine that empowers you to take back control of your wellness. These suggestions are not limited to topical products you should use. A a true wellness lifestyle is mostly about what you put inside of your body. With that said, a healthy scalp/healthy hair truly starts from within:
1. Drink plenty of water and minimize food and drinks that may cause scalp inflammation (therefore triggering flakes, psoriasis, dryness, etc). Minimize and/or avoid sugary foods, excessive alcohol/beer, gluten, red meat, dairy, processed foods, canned fruits/vegetables, and potatoes.
2. Incorporate probiotics and a collagen supplement into your diet. Both encourage healthy hair and scalp, along with many other benefits (including vaginal health, healthy skin, joint support, gut health, managing inflammation, hair growth).
3. Manage your stress and find healthy ways to cope with your stress. Do something that speaks to your higher self, and frees you to disconnect, if even for a moment, from whatever makes you feel stressed. I would also encourage you to be solution-oriented, and find a way to eliminate any unnecessary stressors in your life. Remember, not everything requires an emotional response, and sometimes we impose stress on ourselves, by simply reacting.
4. Use an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse to clarify your scalp once a week. ACV is very strong, so be sure to dilute it. I combine a 1/2 cup of ACV with 2 cups of rose water in a spray bottle, then apply to my scalp. Organic apple cider with the mother is most effective (make sure you do not use it if you have recently been scratching your scalp, because ACV is acidic, it can cause burning if you've been scratching). Because of its antifungal, acidic, and antibacterial properties, ACV can treat and prevent scalp ailments, while rebalancing the scalp's pH level. Rose water is used because it is anti-inflammatory, reduces oiliness, relieves dryness, and is nourishing for your hair.
5. Deep condition your hair regularly.
6. Moisturize your scalp with rose water using a spray bottle, then gently massage a moisturizer (Slather It) into your scalp.
7. Give yourself a scalp massage with Oil It 3-4x per week for 10-15 minutes; massaging in a circular motion, which helps stimulate blood circulation (encouraging hair growth).
8. Moisturize your hair daily with Slather It.
9. Incorporate protective styles to give your hair a break from being manipulated.
10. Minimize heat styling.
11. Sleep with a satin bonnet or scarf. Or use a satin pillowcase.
12. Be mindful of hair styling products you use. Many contain ingredients and allergens that are scalp irritants, therefore causing an especially sensitive scalp to flake and be itchy. Some also contain ingredients that can be drying to hair.
Fighting the winter blues is a holistic journey; there is not just one solution or fix for combating dry scalp and hair. Establish good habits, stay consistent, and remain committed to your wellness.
Take your hair and scalp back, sis! It does not belong to the cold, harsh weather, and it certainly does not belong to stress! Healthy hair and scalp belong to YOU!
With Love, Jocellyn