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Published on February 10, 2020

snow falling on woman laughing hands in hair

Hair Care in Winter – Should You Wash It Every Day?

Winter’s arid breath really hits our hair. Is yours drier or oilier than it seemed when the leaves were falling? You’re certainly not alone.

Dermatologists do see more patients in the winter when the dryness of the season hits our skin and our locks. Unless you can move to Hawaii, you’ll have to just make a few adjustments that can add up to fuss-free hair for the rest of these cold months.

Avera Medical Group Dermatology Mitchell physician Mandi Greenway, MD, said don’t get shook if you’re struggling with winter hair. It happens, but there are some simple means to get things back to the way you like.

“One thing in the media that patients sometimes grab onto is hair-washing frequency, and it really varies, but I remind folks that once a day is more than enough. Most of us can go every-other day and have healthy hair and scalps,” said Greenway. “You can avoid damaging your hair by being gentle as you massage shampoo into your scalp. You don’t have to rub shampoo into the length of your hair, and you should use conditioner.”

The dryness of your hair – or perhaps yours leans toward the oily side – can also be a factor. People with oily scalps most likely need that daily washing, and others can skip a day. Chemically treated hair – perms and colors – can make your hair drier so less-frequent washing isn’t a bad idea.

“You can shop for shampoos and conditioners made for your type of hair, and it does make a difference,” Greenway said. “When it comes to your hair health, less is more. One place we see damage occur is with tugging, pulling and other stressful actions on the hair. If you can, avoid braiding every day. Same goes for straightening and relaxing treatments. Don’t do it too much.”

In winter, one great way to stay fit or get a workout is swimming. But make sure to rinse your hair – or wash it – once you’ve finished your laps. Wear a cap and if you swim a lot, using a swimmer’s shampoo to keep those chemicals out of your ‘do is smart.

Greenway said aggressive towel-drying and brushing wet hair also can lead to damage. Damaged hair can show itself in several ways, from split ends to “fly aways.” Of course, there’s another hair symptom that everyone dreads, Greenway mentioned.

“Dandruff happens, and if it does, get an over-the-counter shampoo designed to treat it,” she said. “It’s also important to remember, unlike your regular shampoo, you need to lather it up and let it set on your scalp for five minutes at least. Don’t skimp on that step or the flakes will just return.”

She also reminds us that our hair might be trying to tell us something. If you have issues like severe dryness, oiliness or scalp irritation, get help from a professional.

“If you make changes and it doesn’t seem to help, you may have a health problem instead of a hair-care problem,” said Greenway. “The sooner you get help, the more likely we can find the problem and help you fix it.”

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