10 Effective Winter Natural Hair Tips for Guaranteed Moisture

Jan 23, 2021

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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 your new winter natural hair routine for happy, healthy and hydrated coils:

Your New Winter Natural Hair Routine

an infographic of the winter natural hair routine

Pre-Poo

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 can be drying, especially to curly and coily hair.

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 for high porosity hair as it has the highest penetrability – it can absorb right into your hair, protecting your hair from the harsh surfactants.

Heat up your oil and apply it to your hair to give yourself a hot oil treatment before the shower. Your hair will thank you!

Use Moisturizing Shampoos

Shampoos are a must in any and all natural hair routines.

Naturals should own at least 1 moisturizing shampoo and 1 clarifying shampoo.

  • Moisturizing shampoos contain gentle yet effective surfactants that remove product build-up and dirt from the scalp. These shampoos are excellent for regular use
  • Clarifying shampoos, on the other hand, contain deep cleaning detergents that deeply clean the hair and remove hard-to-reach dirt, including mineral build-up (especially shampoos with chelating ingredients that can break these bonds. Clarifying shampoos are a must for low porosity naturals who experience accelerated product buildup.

Moisturizing shampoos are great because they will not overly strip the hair, yet they will provide a decent clean with some additional slip for detangling. These are great options for retaining moisture in your winter natural hair routine.

A great addition to your shampoo arsenal is a cleansing conditioner or co-wash, especially for high porosity naturals and/or Type 4 naturals that struggle with dryness.

an image of camille rose sweet ginger rinse

Camille Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse

Best for TYPE 3-4, high porosity

This shampoo is incredibly gentle and non-stripping, but contains enough surfactants to thoroughly cleanse your hair and remove buildup. Ginger root oil – the second ingredient in the formula – is antiseptic, boosting overall scalp health. A must have shampoo in any high porosity natural hair routine!

an image of the best products for fine type 4 natural hair_mielle organics pomegranate and honey shampoo

Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Shampoo

Best for TYPE 4, all porosities

This shampoo is one of the most moisturizing shampoos on the market. Key ingredients such as honey and panthenol reduce friction between hair strands, providing additional slip and promoting moisture retention throughout the shampoo process. A great biweekly or monthly shampoo to remove deeper buildup.

an image of Tresemme 2 and 1 cleansing shampoo

Tresemme 2 and 1 Cleanse and Replenish Shampoo

Best for TYPE 3-4, low porosity

This shampoo is a triple threat: it contains deep cleansing and detoxifying detergents that will remove accumulated buildup; remove mineral buildup from hard water, and; includes conditioning agents to avoid stripping the hair. Best as a monthly shampoo to detoxify the scalp and reset the hair, and is a great shampoo for low porosity hair that is prone to accelerated product buildup. 

an image of As I Am Coconut Cowash

As I Am Coconut Cowash

Best for TYPE 4, high porosity

This conditioning creme is formulated with fortifying and strengthening ingredients such as coconut oil, saw palmetto and castor oil. The rich creamy formula will also reduce friction between your strands, making detangling a breeze. A great co-washing option for keeping high porosity hair conditioned yet clarified.  

Deep Condition Intentionally

The deep conditioning session is an opportune time to strengthen and fortify the hair.

It’s easy to slap on a deep conditioner and let it sit overnight, but being intentional with your deep conditioning session means understanding what works (and what will not work) for your hair type, porosity and strand width.

The overnight baggy method, while easy to do, is not the most effective strategy. It can cause hygral fatigue in high porosity hair and creates a film around low porosity hair.

The best way to deep condition natural hair is with heat, which loosens the cuticle layer and encourages deeper penetration.

You can use a steamer or hot head thermal cap, or simply apply your deep conditioner in the shower and let the steam from the water do its job. Whatever works for you~!

an image of tgin Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Hair Masque

TGIN Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Masque

Best for TYPE 3-4

This mask is loaded with a healthy balance of strengthening and conditioning ingredients that will soften your coils and keep dryness at bay. A great deep conditioner for boosting moisture! 

an image of camille rose algae renew deep conditioner

Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioner

Best for TYPE 3 – 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 moisturizing ingredients such as hemp seed oil and blue-green algae. And it smells like mint chocolate chip!

an image showing a hot head thermal cap_best products for fine type 4 natural hair

Hot Head Thermal Cap

Best for TYPE 3 – 4

This is a must have tool for natural hair, especially for low porosity naturals. Deep conditioning as a low porosity natural is fruitless if you’re not lifting your cuticles to let the product in. And the heat from 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 steamer. 

Use Moisture-Rich Products

The opposite of dryness? Moisture!

Water is nature’s only true “moisturizer” so be sure your hair is damp before applying products.

The next step is locking in that moisture with water-based, conditioning leave-ins. Your leave-in conditioner game can either make or break your natural hair because certain formulations are better suited for the warm weather.

Look for leave-in products that are water-based, contain a plethora of conditioning fatty alcohols and film-forming humectants to help with both friction-reducing (i.e. slip to keep tangles at bay) and moisture retention.

This is also a great time to include cream stylers in your routine, if you are prone to dryness, because they add a secondary layer of moisture and conditioning.

If you plan on using gels, be sure to look for gels that contain plant-based extracts and film-forming humectants so you can reap more moisture benefits.

a picture of camille rose curl love moisture milk

Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture Milk

Best for TYPE 3-4, all porosities

This product is well-loved by low porosity naturals, but the film-forming humectants, such as aloe vera and slippery elm, is great for high porosity naturals experiencing moisture loss. The plethora of conditioning ingredients will also make your hair feel soft, supple and conditioned for days. A fan fave leave-in conditioner for all naturals!

an image of kinky curly knot today

Kinky Curly Knot Today

Best for TYPE 4, high porosity

A cult classic leave-in, this formula is perfect for both curly and coily hair. Packed with fortifying and film-forming humectants such as slippery elm and marshmallow root, it will keep your moisturized your hair for days to come. The conditioning agents will also allow for easy detangling, making your hair feel like butter. A fan favourite for high porosity naturals prioritizing moisture retention.

an image of tgin daily moisturizer

TGIN Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer

Best for TYPE 3-4

No other cream 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. 

an image of Earthtones Naturals Curl Defining Gelly

Earthtones Naturals Curl Enhancing Jelly

Best for TYPE 3-4

A Canadian-based brand, Earthtones Naturals focuses on holistic, natural ingredients – and this gel is no exception. Its formulated with some ingredients such as aloe leaf juice, panthenol and sea kelp!

an image of kinky curly curling custard

Kinky Curly Curling Custard

Best for TYPE 3-4, high porosity

This gel is a cult classic. Long before the plethora of hair gels for natural hair, this gel was holding it down for the curls. Jam packed with film-forming plant extracts such as marshmallow root and aloe vera will keep your coils hydrated and ensure every coil is defined. A fan fave to moisturize and condition natural hair, especially for high porosity naturals.

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 use the right kind of protein for your porosity and hair type.

If you have low porosity hair, which can sometimes be “protein-sensitive”, avoid using products with larger-sized proteins such as hydrolyzed silk and wheat proteins, which create a film around the hair and impede in moisture absorption.

Low porosity hair, as well as coarser-stranded naturals, will find using using products with smaller-sized proteins, such as amino acids and peptides, will be less triggering to your hair as these proteins are small enough to penetrate into your hair and support your native proteins.

On the other hand, high porosity naturals and fine-stranded naturals will benefit from using both small and large-sized proteins to facilitate moisture retention and support native protein stores.

an image of olaplex no 3 hair perfector

Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector

Best for TYPE 3-4, all porosities

Olaplex’s Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment has a patented agent that is chemically similar to the disulfide protein bonds in our hair. Using it monthly prior to your wash day as a pre-poo will replace broken bonds in your cuticles caused by sun damage, dyes/bleach, heat tools and manipulation. Great for all porosities!

an image of mielle babassu and mint deep conditioner

Mielle Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner

Best for TYPE 4, low porosity

One of Mielle’s most popular products, the active ingredient in this mask is babassu seed oil, a significant source of Vitamin E and fatty lipids. The protein source in this formula, amino acids, are small enough to penetrate into your hair strands and fortify your cortex. A great light protein boost for low porosity naturals but high porosity naturals can use it as a weekly deep conditioner.

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

Aphogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor

Best for TYPE 3-4, high porosity

This protein treatment is amazing for a protein up-keep, reversing mild heat damage and strenghtening high porosity hair. Your hair will be defined and bouncy immediately after washing it out. For best results, use for 10-15 minutes in the shower for Type 4 hair, and wash out with cool water. Follow up immediately with a moisturizing deep conditioner. Should be considered a staple treatment for high porosity naturals.

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 supplies oxygen to the scalp and promotes healthy follicles. Some preliminary studies also suggest that scalp-stimulating massages can help hair loss and alopecia, especially once coupled with hair-growth oils such as rosemary oil.

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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WRITTEN BY

Ayana Aden

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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