6 Tips to Rock Your Wash and Go This Winter Without Ruining Your Natural Hair

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It’s that time again! The coldest season of the year is about to rear its ugly head, and it’s time for us naturalistas to get prepared. While wash and gos are likely the most simple of the natural hair styles, winter can cause some issues with application of your styling product and going about your day. The low dew point can dry your hair out, cold temperatures make wet hair near impossible and the constant use of knitted hats can wreak havoc on your strands. Why do you think many of us choose to tuck our hair away in protective styles until spring? But, there are some things you can do to keep your hair healthy and able to continue “wash and going” right through winter. Try out the following tips:

Invest in a hooded dryer

Going out in cold weather with wet hair is one of my least favorite things in life. Not only can the harsh air be drying to your wet strands, but it simply feels terrible. Since my roots take the longest to dry, I prefer my hooded dryer to a diffuser during winter because it hits your roots first and you don’t have to worry about moving it all over your head. Depending on the thickness of your hair, around 30 minutes should do the trick.

If you live in a climate with low dew points (less than 30), minimize humectant use or be sure to layer with an oil or butter

Using humectants in high dew points in summer may cause frizz and poofy hair, but it’s really nothing compared to the dryness effect that happens in the winter. I usually avoid most humectants altogether in my styling routine (leave-in, gel, moisturizer), especially glycerin. But if you have products that you can’t live without, layering them with an oil or butter can minimize moisture loss. There are some products, like Oyin Whipped Pudding, that I still use in winter because it’s already mixed with heavy oils/butters. Oyin and Camille Rose also both make great leave-ins that do not contain glycerin and perform well during winter.

Master the multi-day wash and go

The less you need to restyle your wash and go, the better. You can try pineappling (or multi-pineapples if  your hair is shorter), a hair hood, satin scarf or bonnet or simply sleeping on a satin pillowcase to preserve your curls for the next day. Lately I’ve been sleeping with a satin scarf and fluff out in the morning with a light oil for a few days, then I’ll switch to a bun and wear that for a few more.

Increase your moisture game

To maintain a good moisture-protein balance, my general “rule” is more attention to protein during hot months and focus on moisture during cold months. A rich deep conditioner will allow your strands to thrive and will also leave some coating on your hair to protect it from the cold air. I aim for 30 minutes once a week. Also, sometimes I like to use a heavier moisturizer, like Beija Flor Creme Brulee or  Bekura Palm Tapioca Deluxe Hair Buttercream, as my leave-in for longer lasting moisture.

Layer your hat or scarf with satin

Hats and scarves are must haves for temperatures below 30 degrees, but they are often made of thick knits and cottons that can cause breakage or soak up the moisture from your hair. To help alleviate this without leaving your hair bare in the cold, line your hats and scarves with satin. For a hat, you can either sew it in (or buy one with a satin liner) or wear a satin cap underneath. For scarves, find one of a similar color (or color of your preference) and place that on your hair before adding your cold weather gear. There are also some coats made with satin-like liners with hoods that are great for winter.

Use a gentle cleanser and wash less often: Washing your hair does more than potentially cause dryness, it also strips your hair of natural oils that are beneficial during winter. Resist the urge to wash every time you restyle your wash and go – try alternating wash days with conditioner rinsing or cowashing. Cream cleansers are also gentler on your hair, so you may want to try one like DevaCurl Decadence No-Poo or Camille Rose Caramel Cowash to keep your hair both clean and moisturized.

What winter hair care tips do you have?

**This post also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair.

12 comments

    1. You know, I think I used this YEARS ago and I didn’t even remember! I don’t think I have a review of it, though and they might have changed the formula since then.

      1. Yeah, I went through most of your reviews looking for it, but I didn’t see anything. So I just ordered like 4 bottles of the CRN Jansyn Moisture Max. I really like that conditioner. Elle, with being low porosity, do you think it would be beneficial to seal my hair this winter or do you think that CRN moisturizers would suffice?

      2. It’s really up to you! I use butter and oils on my hair (mainly my ends) to protect it from the elements, not to retain moisture, so it doesn’t have much to do with my porosity.

  1. Hey Elle, have you ever tried CRN Soylicious conditioner? I want to try it, but again the reviews for that product is slim to nothing. I did buy the CRN Jansyn Moisture Max, per your recommendation and I’m in love. Thx and I look forward to your reply. Lol, I have fallen in love with CRN and I want to try everything, but I so need your opinion on this conditioner before I purchase.

  2. Excellent tips Elle !!!
    I’m a wng gal myself and I’ve never thought about pulling out my hooded dryer to speed up my drying time for my wng’s, so I will definitley be doing that this winter. Do you think the CRN Almond Jai, used as a leave-in under the Curl Maker will be enough moisture for my strands this winter or should I invest in a lite oil for sealing in the moisture? My strands are fine/low porosity and gets very angry if I pile too much on her, but I also want to keep her well hydrated.

    1. I love the Almond Jai, it’s super moisturizing. I actually did not buy all the moisturizers I wanted during BF so I can use up the ones I have and get some AJ!

      1. Thx Elle!!! You’re Awesome, I hope the Almond Jai will be enough this winter in the moisture department. But if it doesn’t I will try the CRN style setter. Have a good one Elle!

  3. Thanks for the tips. A steamer!! Winter arrived in Alaska about a month ago with negative dews. I’ve tried so many brands, it’s ridiculous. This weekend I went back to tried and true Curl Junkie. DCed with curl rehab and my hair did a happy dance. Still trying to figure out my styling routine. I’m thinking of trying oyin hair dew for a bit. Everyone here wears protective styles, but I’d miss my hair too much.

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