Unbelievably Easy Fixes for Winter Hair Problems

Your Winter Hair Forecast

Winter is brutal on our hair. While gusting winds and frigid temps outside whip our tresses into a flyaway mess, the desert-like conditions inside our home and office do even more harm. "It's indoor heating that really dries out the hair and weakens the hair cuticle," says cosmetic chemist and BeautyStat.com founder Ron Robinson. "Without that protective barrier, hair fibers peel and break."

Stop this vicious — and hugely unflattering — cycle with some changes in the products you choose and how you use them.

The Prescription for Shine

Like a sneezy, sniffly, achy winter cold, winter hair is a constellation of symptoms: dry, dull, frizzy, and flat. Nursing your hair to health takes a two- pronged approach.

Hydrate: Give your parched locks the long drink they need by switching to moisturizing shampoos and conditioners such as Herbal Essences Hello Hydration ($3.99). The moisturizing ingredients are activated by water, and the delicious Hawaiian orchid-and-coconut smell will make you forget the subfreezing temps outside. Once a week, use a deep conditioning product, like Burt's Bees Hair Repair Shea & Grapefruit Deep Conditioner ($8), and when you visit the salon for a cut or color, indulge your locks with a professional reparative service.

Protect: When hair is moisture starved, hot tools can cause even more damage than usual, and letting your hair air-dry in winter is unrealistic. "No one is going to walk out of their home in 12-degree weather with wet hair," says stylist Jeff Gemmette of Gemmette Hair Studio in Staten Island. "Besides, that would cause freezing of the strands and lead to breakage." Instead, toss the terrycloth and partially dry your hair by blotting, not rubbing, with a microfiber towel. Then apply a heat-protecting product, like Pureology Fortifying Heat Spray ($22 at salons nationwide) before firing up the hair dryer. The lightweight oils shield your hair from temperatures up to 400 degrees and add shine.

Help for Hat Head

You don't need to choose between freezing ears and flattened, flyaway hat hair. Instead, stay toasty and well-tressed by making sure your hair is completely dry before you don a hat. "If your hair is even slightly damp, you'll be setting it flat against your head as it dries," says stylist Jeff Gemmette. As soon as you take off your hat, give your hair a good shake, then spray a travel-sized boar- bristle brush with a light-hold hairspray and brush through your hair. A hat that doesn't fit too snugly on the crown in cotton rather than static-prone wool will also reduce flatness and flyaways.

Take inspiration from Katie Holmes, who always looks chic in her loose knit beanie.

Stop Static Charge

Crackling logs in the fireplace is a comforting sound in winter; hair crackling with static electricity, not so much. In dry conditions, electrons build up in our hair and linger, causing strands to literally stand on end as those particles repel each other. To conquer this hair-raising condition, keep a couple of dryer sheets in your purse. "Just rub your hand on the dryer sheet, then run your fingers through your hair, and frizz and flyaways are gone," says Leonard Golina, stylist and colorist at Manhattan's Chris Mitchell Studio.

Seal Split Ends

Dehydrated hair means fraying tips and those dreaded spit ends. The only way to get rid of gnarly tips is with regular trims every six to eight weeks. Between trims, prevent future damage by applying what Boston stylist Nicholas Penna, Jr., calls a "winter coat," a deeply hydrating conditioning oil that absorbs quickly into your hair to smooth, nourish, and protect.

Penna recommends Shu Uemura Essence Absolue ($65), which is to conditioners what the Birkin bag is to purses — a pricey product with a cult following and a waiting list. It can be used as both an overnight pre-shampoo treatment and a leave-in conditioner styling aid. "This product contains camellia oil, which is often used as a rust protectant for woodworking tools, so it means business," says Penna.

For a budget option, try Nexxus ProMend Overnight Treatment ($14.99). The conditioning treatment actually binds split ends together so they're not noticeable.

The Fix for Flatness

Change your shampoo regimen as well; go at least one day between washings so you don't deplete your hair of whatever moisture it's able to retain. On days when you're not sudsing, try a dry shampoo such as Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo ($3). It will help your hair hold a blowout longer and give you second-day volume and texture. Plus, it has an invigorating citrus scent to mask odors, and help your mood feel a bit more tropical despite the Arctic temperatures.

Bring Back the Shine

Since hair color that worked beautifully against bronzed skin on sun-kissed days can look ashy with winter's paler complexion, winterize your hair color by going warmer. Take blonde hair from beige to golden, brunette to chestnut or chocolate, and red to copper or auburn. Add toasty dimension to single-color hair by having your colorist weave in both highlights and lowlights.

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