How To Keep Natural Hair Moisturized During the Wintertime

Jan 23, 2021

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Who says natural hair has to be dry in the winter?

We all know that wintertime is notorious for sucking the life out of our curls, leaving them dry and brittle. Regardless of your curl type, porosity or density, if your winter natural hair routine isn’t solidified, you may experience:

  • Accelerated dryness
  • Breakage
  • Increased shedding
  • Scalp irritation and dryness
  • Single-strand knots and split ends
  • Tangles and uncontrollable frizz
  • Among others!

Fortunately, there are some easy steps that you can incorporate into your natural hair routine this winter to ensure healthy, undamaged hair.

Don’t let your hair down this winter! Here’s how to winter-ify your natural hair routine:

Your New Winter Natural Hair Routine

infographic showing winter natural hair tips


Pre-pooing is a staple all year-round, but this is especially true for your winter natural hair routine.

Shampoo, although 100% necessary, contains stripping detergents that removes buildup and dirt, but also removes our hair’s natural oils.

Pre-pooing, which is the act of applying a protective layer overtop your hair prior to shampooing, is the only way to protect these oils from the harshness of the shampoo.

It’s as easy as layering on an oil of choice before you step in the shower.

Common pre-poos include olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. Coconut oil is a fan favourite as it has the highest penetrability – it can absorb right into your hair, creating an impenetrable barrier!

To take it a step further, use the pre-poo stage as a detangling opportunity. Mix in your oil of choice with a slippery conditioner and slowly detangle your hair in sections.

This will not only cut down time spent in the shower, but your hair will feel much softer after the shampoo.

Oils > Gels

Gel is a great way to define and enhance your curl pattern. If used properly, gels can extend the life of your styles, depending on how well you’ve moisturized underneath.

However, most gels are formulated to provide curl definition, not moisture retention. As such, they lack some key moisturizing ingredients that your hair may be craving during the winter.

Cream stylers are great substitutes for gels during the winter, as they normally are created with moisture in mind and have a richer, more nourishing ingredient list.

You may not achieve the precise definition with creams as you may get with gels, but you may find that your hair is softer throughout the week.

TGIN Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer

Best for TYPE 3c-4

No other moisturizer exists on the market quite like this one – not only does it have amazing slip, but it’s rich formula with shea butter and vitamin E will help flatten your cuticles and promote hydration all week long.

Camille Rose Naturals Almond Jai Twisting Butter

Best for TYPE 4

If you’re looking for a setting cream for your twist-outs and braid-outs, look no further: this twisting butter is so rich and creamy, your hair will feel supple and soft after taking down the style. Olive oil plays well with this product!

shea moisture curl and style milk

Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk

Best for TYPE 2-3b

A light-weight, hydrating leave-in moisturizer. Perfect for Type 2 and 3 naturals with loose curls and waves. Be light-handed when applying and focus on your ends for more volume and curl definition.

Protective Style

Protective styling is a guaranteed win for all naturals, regardless of porosity type.

Wind, sun, snow and other climatic conditions have an excruciating effect on our hair, especially our ends.

By putting your hair in a long-wearing style, such as braids, weaves, wigs and buns, you are sheltering your hair from the harsh elements.

These protective styles inherently protect our hair from breakage, shedding and dryness. This will be a game changer in your winter natural hair routine!

Before you put your hair in a protective style, be sure to do the following:

  • Deep condition;
  • Seal in the moisture with a moisturizing leave-in conditioner, and;
  • Plan to take down your style no later than every 6 weeks to remove dirt/buildup, and to re-moisturize.

Keep Your Moisture/Protein Ratio Balanced

Don’t get me wrong, protein is a MUST for any natural hair routine. The fact that our curls are composed of primarily protein (called keratin) attests to this.

If it wasn’t for protein, our curls would be limp, dull, and prone to breakage, regardless of how much moisture we put into it.

Use too much protein, though, and your hair will become stiff, brittle, and extremely dry, known as protein overload.

It’s imperative to keep our moisture/protein levels balanced, but the fact of the matter is that our hair is craving moisture more than protein in the winter, simply because of how dry the air is.

To offset this, incorporate moisture-rich deep conditioners and leave-in conditioners into your routine for healthy hair. Use a light to medium protein treatment every 4 weeks to maintain a healthy moisture-protein balance.

best deep conditioner_camille rose algae renew

Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioner

Best for TYPE 4

A cult favourite deep conditioner, This deep conditioner contains essential plant-based oils and butters loved by all naturals: manuka honey, mango butter and aloe vera, and also includes innovative ingredients such as hemp seed oil and blue-green algae. And it smells like mint chocolate chip!

a photo showing aphogee two minute reconstructor how to take care of natural hair monthly

Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor

Best for all naturals

This protein treatment is AMAZING for a protein up-keep. Your hair will be defined and bouncy immediately after washing it out. 

For looser curls and waves – apply in the shower every 3 months for 2 minutes. Only apply where your curls are most pronounced.

For Type 3c-4c, use on a monthly basis for 15 minutes.

Focus on Your Ends

Your ends say a lot about your winter natural hair routine.

They tell you whether or not a new product is working for you. Your ends can tell you when it’s time for a trim. They can also tell you when it’s time for a break and put your hair away in a protective style.

At every step in your hair routine, your ends should be a top priority. This is especially true in the wintertime, a time when your ends are at its most fragile.

Products need to be concentrated at your ends first, and then applied to your roots. This holds true for your leave-in conditioners, deep conditioners and gels (the only exception to this is shampoo).

Your ends are your hair’s elders – so treat them with respect!

Love Your Scalp

Your scalp is the birthplace of hair. It’s only right to assume that healthy hair starts at the scalp!

Scalp massages have been proven to stimulate blood flow, which promotes healthy follicle activity and sustained growth.

Coupled with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial oils (our fave is rosemary oil mixed with jojoba oil), studies have shown increased hair count in about 6 months!

You can also use scalp massages to loosen dirt buildup. Dirt and grime can latch onto hair follicles, and our sulfate-free shampoos may not have the detergent strength to remove it all.

Grab your favourite oil, put on some Netflix, and work some of that oil into your scalp gently using the pads of your fingertips (not your nails). By the time winter is over, you may notice thicker, healthier hair.

Use Heat (The Right Way)

If you’re natural, or on your way to becoming natural, there are a few things that you probably have heard in the natural community. One of them being: avoid heat like the plague.

Direct head, such as in the form of a flat iron, is damaging. Frequent heat manipulation will lead to hair breakage, loss of thickness, excessive shedding, and heat damage.

But heat in the form of steam is great for your hair, especially low porosity curls!

Steam, which is vaporized water, can easily penetrate into your hair because of how small the molecules are. Coupled with a deep conditioner, your hair will be able to reap the full benefits of both the water and the treatment.

The most beneficial way to incorporate steam in your winter natural hair routine is using a hair steamer during your deep conditioning session.

If you cannot find or afford a hair steamer, apply your deep conditioners in the shower and let the steam penetrate for 10-15 minutes. Wash it out with cold water for defined and moisturized curls.

You can also get a hot head thermal cap, which harnesses the heat capacity of flaxseeds to bring the heat to your curls.

Once you’ve applied your deep conditioner and put on your plastic bag, throw the hat into the microwave for 40 seconds on each side. Put the cap on your head for 15-20 minutes, and rinse out the conditioner with cold water.

You’ll find that the deep conditioner penetrated deeper into the hair and you’ll be left with soft, supple hair.

an image showing a hot head thermal cap

Hot Head Thermal Cap

Best for Low Porosity Curls and Coils (Type 3 and 4)

This is a must have tool for natural hair, especially for low porosity naturals. Deep conditioning as a low porosity natural is virtually pointless if you’re not opening up your cuticles to let the product in. And this product will do just that! A much more effective deep conditioning strategy than the baggy method, and best of all: it’s much more affordable than a $100 steamer. You can’t beat that price point!

Vitamins, Exercise and Diet

As much as we hate it, no winter natural hair routine can truly thrive without some sort of health and lifestyle change.

If you are determined to have long, healthy, moisturized natural hair, you must ensure you’re getting the right vitamins into your life, both macro (food) or micro (supplements).

Did you know that your hair, skin, and nails are the last places in your body to receive nutrients? So if you aren’t eating right or taking your supplements, your body will prioritize essential organs (heart, brain, lungs) first.

This is why when you’re deficient in critical nutrients, you notice it in your hair, skin and nails first.

Exercise is another key part of a healthy hair routine, and a healthy physical life. Exercising naturals swear that exercising regularly, in addition to a healthy diet, boosts their hair growth cycle significantly.

Healthy hair starts with a healthy body. If you focus on what you put on your hair just as much as what you consume, you’ll notice a significant increase in your hair growth potential.

Balance Shampoo with Co-washing

Co-washing, a term coined by the natural hair community, is when you only wash your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo.

There are some benefits to co-washing: conditioner contains some cleansing agents, so you still get a decent cleanse out of it, without the squeaky feeling of the shampoo.

However, shampoo is a non-negotiable for natural hair. There’s nothing worse than a chronically dirty scalp. It can cause hair shedding, permanent loss and scalp dermatitis. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

If shampoo dries out your hair, reduce your shampoo days to biweekly instead of weekly, with co-washing in between. Make sure to pre-poo prior to shampooing to reduce dryness!

Drink Water and Mind Your Business

Drinking water is a must for everyone. Don’t at me.

Drinking water is essential for everyone. Our bodies are primarily composed of water, so it makes sense that we need to replenish our bodies with water to keep healthy.

Staying hydrated will ensure that your bodily functions are working optimally to digest food and nutrients and flush out toxins.

Final Thoughts of Creating A Winter Natural Hair Routine

There are many ways to keep your hair healthy during the wintertime. By deep conditioning, protective styling, exercising, and using the rest of the above tips, you are ensuring that your hair is at optimal conditions for growth.

What are your tips for a solid winter natural hair routine? Share down below!

The Curl Market is a natural hair blog catered to helping black naturals grow their curls into a long, luscious manes.

We use the latest evidence-based scientific research to provide you with the top tips on growing your curls, regardless of hair type.

We also provide lifestyle tips, both self care and mental care, to ensure you are optimizing your body’s natural hair growth cycle – because you can’t grow natural hair if you’re stressed out!

Come as you are.

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Ayana is The Curl Market’s brand founder. When she’s not deep in natural hair research or creating content, she’s hanging on the couch with her husband and her cat, reading a book or scrolling through TikTok. Follow her on Instagram at @ayanaaaden

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