As a Southern African dweller it is with the utmost regret that I inform you that winter is not only coming, but is in fact here.
Unlike in cities like Harare, Lusaka and Maputo; where winter predominately happens between the hours of 6:00pm & 6:00am (and doesn’t involve anyone wearing coats), winter in my adopted city of Johannesburg is a more menacing beast that involves single digit temperatures, skin cracking levels of dryness and sometimes snow *shudders*.
What this means for us, my natural haired sisters? It means that should modify our hair regime and employ alternative strategies to our hair care, that I will share in this post.
A luta continua,
Major-General VimfromZim, Your Sister in the Natural Hair Trenches
1. Trim Those Ends
Raggedy ends will just get more raggedy in winter and severely compromise your hair growth, so it’s best to kick-start the next 3 months of cold weather with a healthy trim.
2. Pick your poison: Braids or Weaves?
If there’s ever a time of the year when I do not want to see my hair, it’s winter time. For a long-term solution to avoiding unnecessary breakage and promoting hair growth whilst the elements are against you, then braids or weaves are your answer.
Now listen, that doesn’t mean you can have either one of these protective styles in your hair indefinitely and walk around with a dead cat or shabby ropes hanging off your scalp. Normal rules apply here, keep them in for 6 – 8 weeks and don’t forget to keep your scalp oiled and moisturised during this time…which brings me to my next point.
3. Salve up that Scalp
To plagiarise a famous Paul Simon lyric, “Hello Dry Scalp, my old friend/I’ve come to talk with you again.” Cold, dry weather will aggravate the most normal scalp, so just imagine how much worse it is for us dry scalp sufferers.
I know the Natural Hair Nazis out there will warn you off putting anything on your scalp, but who the heck is listening to them? Whip out your natural oil of choice – mine is a combination of Coconut Oil with a smidgen of Castor Oil in the mix – and slather it into your scalp one to two times a week, no matter what hair style you are rocking in winter. Your scalp will thank you.
4. Ease Up on the Washing Frequency
In my previous wash day post I outlined how I normally shampoo and co-wash my hair on alternating weeks. In winter, that frequency is stretched out and wash day is more of a fortnightly affair. This is due in part to hair being more brittle and more likely to break during the washing process in the dry winter months, but mostly it’s because:
- Hot water in the shower runs out faster during this time;
- Air drying natural hair in winter is such a schlep; and
- The likelihood of inducing a head-cold due to a wet, cold hair is exponentially higher than what it is in summer.
Speaking of hair washing, don’t even consider washing it unless your routine includes the pre-poo prep and some deep conditioning action. Don’t skip steps!
5. No ‘Fro Zone
I don’t care whether you felt inspired by another shot of Solange rocking her ‘fro or that you look for more fierce with your ‘fro out. In winter you have NO BUSINESS rocking your hair out like it’s the summer of 69. Even if you don’t have braids or weaves, keeping your hair in some form of protective style be it cornrows or two strand twists to keep it from drying out and needing moisture-related CPR.
There are many ways to still look cute without having your hair out in a fro. Pinterest is your friend, when it comes to ideas.
PS: Personally, I urge you to go the braid and weave route in winter. It’s less theatrics.
6. Bring out the Big Guns
In summer my moisturising routine, after washing my hair, can be as simple as spritzing water and sealing all that moisture in with Shea butter or using leave-in conditioner and sealing it in with Shea Butter.
When the cooler climes descend upon this side of the world, I throw Castor Oil into the mix which is a heavier and more viscous carrier oil. So on freshly washed hair I use the LOC method: Leave-in conditioner then castor oil and my trusty Shea Butter to seal it all in. This sounds like a lot but my 4c hair can handle it and prefers the heavy handed approach, whereas I appreciate that some other hair types would find it way too much so apply sparingly at first, to figure out what you hair prefers.
7. From the inside out
Healthy and happy hair is not only about what product, cream or oil you smother it in. It’s also about what you eat and your general health and well-being. It’s no surprise that our bodies take more stress and strain during the winter months – our immune systems are fending off opportunist infections like colds and flus.
It’s worth considering taking a multi-vitamin, if you don’t already do so, to provide your body with that extra line of defence during the next 3 months. I also take an Omega 3 supplement to alleviate my dry skin and dry scalp issues, not to mention actively keep hydrated by drinking cups of warm water.
Don’t let this frigid weather derail your natural hair, thankfully it only last 3 months on this side of the world.
Keep warm, chickens 😉