Winter and Your Lovely Tresses

How Can Winter Affect Your Hair?


Humidity is a misleading number when dealing with hair care. First of all, 100% humidity in the summer and 100% humidity in the winter are clearly going to indicate different levels of moisture. This is because those numbers represent RELATIVE humidity. Also, 100% humidity in Arizona is very different from 100% humidity in Florida, even if we’re talking about the same time of year.


Dew point is the temperature at which water will condense to form dew or fog. Dew point will never be higher than the air temperature. If the air temp is 40 degrees and 100% humidity that means the dew point should be at 40 degrees or so (because the air is saturated). So dew point and humidity are related, but dew point helps you gauge how much moisture is really there more accurately. If it’s 90 degrees with high humidity, the dew point will often be in the 70’s.


The air can hold different amounts of water depending on the air temperature. Warmer air can hold more water than colder air. This is why 100% humidity on a summer day is so different from 100% humidity on a cold day. On a summer day, when there is a lot of moisture in the air, the dew point may be 60 or 70. That means that the water will condense at 60 or 70 degrees. Think about a fog at 70 degrees. Very oppressive isn’t it?! Now, the opposite scenario is that on a frigid winter day, the dew point may be in the teens or lower. This means that the water is not readily coming out of the air in condensed form, so the air is dry.

What does this mean for you and your hair? Does any of this meteorological jargon really mean anything when it comes to how your curls behave? You betcha!


A dew point of 30 and lower = low dew point. This is the winter. It is dry! If there is no moisture in the air, your hair cannot retain any. Your hair wants to be in equilibrium with its environment.  If there is no moisture in the air, and presuming your hair has some, it will give up its moisture to the air because your hair wants to have the same moisture content as the air around it. If the air around you has 0 figurative drops of water and your hair has 10 figurative drops of water, your hair will expel moisture until the air around it has 5 drops and your hair has 5 drops. This is the battle of winter. You have to continually replenish moisture because your hair will be continually giving it up to the dry air in low dew points. Deep treatments, rich conditioners, hair butters, creamy leave in-s, and humectant-free products will help you in winter. Some of you may also be able to use pure oils for lubrication and many are anti-humectants. Humectants are products which work to make that equilibrium between your hair and the environment happen faster and more efficiently. They are your friend in moderate dews, but your enemy in low dews, because they will just be pushing that moisture out of your hair and into the air! Common humectants are glycerin, panthenol, honey, propylene glycol, and vitamin B5. However, most people have more adverse issues with glycerin in winter than the other humectants.

If the dew point levels are 30 through 40 = in between, awkward transition. The air is neither moist nor super dry. It’s a toss-up, and will require experimenting. You may be able to use humectants here, and you may not. This range will coincide with seasonal changes.


At 40-60 = moist and happy! This is a favorite time for many Curlies. Humectants are welcome, as they will pull moisture into your hair instead of expelling it. The air is now comfortably moist, so say the air now has the 10 figurative drops, and your hair has 0 (well hopefully you’ve been taking better care of it than that so it isn’t that dry, but this is for illustrative purposes). Humectants will pull moisture into your hair to balance it out. Don’t ignore your moisture treatments, but you can now use lighter products.


Now if it’s 60 and up = muggy and 80s hair revival. Some Curlies will outright skip rinse out conditioners in these conditions. Humectants become somewhat dangerous here, because they’ll pull too much water into your hair, making it swell and poof. Here, you will want to use anti-humectants. These ingredients are water repellents. Castor oil, beeswax, coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, and shea butter are natural anti-humectants instead of harsh “insoluble” silicones. The caveat with these ingredients is that because they are water repellents, they may build up on your with the CG routine. This is because in order to be water repellent, they must be at least partially insoluble in water. A hard hold gel will be your friend in these muggy conditions if you aren’t willing to try anti-humectants. Ultimately natural gels are better for you as many hair gels on the market contain triethanolamine and/or parabens. 😉

-Placing a humidifier in the home can still help with the overall health of your hair. Not only will it eliminate excessive dryness and static for your hair, but also for your home.

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