Expert Tips for Winter-Weather Hair Care

January 8, 2014 Updated: January 8, 2014

Winter weather can wreak havoc on our hair in the form of frizz, tangles, and dryness. Hair restoration surgeon Dr. Robert Dorin explains why winter damages our hair and offers some simple tips for keeping our ringlets, shocks, mops, and manes in their very best condition.

Epoch Times: Why is winter weather bad for hair? 

Dr. Robert Dorin: Winter weather can be harsh on our precious tresses for a number of reasons. 

During the winter months, when the air is cold, and the relative humidity is low, moisture can be more readily sapped from our scalp and hair leaving it dry, brittle, and frizzy. 

If this were not bad enough, static charges build up on hair more easily, as our hair rubs against bulky winter garb like scarves, turtle-neck sweaters, and oversize jackets we wear to keep us warm. 

This charge causes flyaway hair that tangles easier and can result in more torsional and sheer forces on the hair shafts that result in breakage and loss of hair volume as we attempt to untangle our hair by combing or brushing it into submission.

Epoch Times: How do we keep city hair healthy in winter?

Dr. Dorin: [I can offer] tips for keeping hair looking luxuriously flawless and healthy during the harsh winter months.

Use an ammonium-free or a sodium laurel sulfate-free shampoo, as other types of shampoo overstrip the natural oils of your scalp and hair.

Minimize your washing frequency to two to three times per week if you already have damaged, dry hair.

Always wash your hair in warm (not hot) water and do a cool-water rinse. The cool water will cause the keratin-filled cells of the cuticle to clamp down and lay flat, rendering your hair shinier and ensuring its natural integrity to protect the cortex [structure] of the hair shaft.

Do not vigorously towel dry your hair, rubbing it back and forth, as this lifts up the [outer] cuticle layer of the hair, making the hair rough and dull. Rather use a super absorbent microfiber towel and gently blot your hair to absorb as much water as possible.

Always use a deep moisturizing conditioner after every shampooing, leaving it on for at least three to five minutes, rinsing in cool, not hot, water.

Try to minimize the use or time of exposure of heat styling tools such as blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons, as these can reach temperatures of 125 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. This can cause the water in the cortex of your hair shaft to expand and pop through, lifting up the cuticle layer, causing weak points at these locations, and leaving your hair in a vulnerable state known as Bubble hair.

If you must use heat styling tools, then apply a thermal protecting product to your hair just prior to their use, as this can help minimize the deleterious heat effects.

Overuse of hair dyes and bleaching will damage the integrity of your hair by removing the vital oils and a natural protective lipid such as 18-methyleicosanoic acid (18-MEA), which protects and gives the hair shaft its vital hydrophobic property. 

Such treatments also cause the protein structure to be altered and damaged, as alkaline agents such as ammonium are used during the dying and bleaching process to lift up the cuticle layer, giving access to the dyes and bleaching (hydrogen peroxide) agents.

Epoch Times: Are there any common misconceptions about hair care that people should know about?

Dr. Dorin: There are two common misconceptions: First, shaving scalp hair down all the way does not make it grow in fuller and thicker. And wearing hats does not cause hair loss as long as they are properly fitted and do not cause repeated traction on the hair. 

Epoch Times: Is there anything else we should do for our hair health?

Dr. Dorin: Try to eat a healthy diet that supplies the necessary vital nutrients for optimum hair growth.

Eat lean cuts of beef, chicken, fish, eggs, low-fat Greek yogurt, and lentils for high-quality protein. The essential amino acids are vital to our hair growth, as our hair is made up of 97 percent protein.

Eat salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, walnuts, avocados, and flaxseeds for the essential omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids needed to support supple, soft non-brittle hair. 

Eat foods rich in vitamin A and vitamin C to help support natural sebum production, the natural oil that conditions our scalp and hair, protecting it from a dry, itchy state. Foods rich in vitamin A are sweet potatoes, carrots cantaloupe, mangoes, pumpkin seeds, and apricots. Foods rich in vitamin C are kiwi, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, red peppers, and blueberries.

Zinc and silica are minerals known to be important as cofactors, aids to hair growth. Zinc can be obtained by eating foods like Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans, fresh oysters, and eggs. Foods rich in silica are mango, cucumbers, beans, celery, and asparagus.

Copper is a vital mineral that is necessary for the enzymatic production of melanin (the substance responsible for giving hair it’s native color). Foods rich in copper are kale, spinach, mustard greens, shiitake mushrooms, and cashews.

Recent studies have indicated that vitamin D is also important to hair growth. Foods rich in vitamin D include cow’s milk, shiitake mushrooms, and salmon.

Vitamin E helps our follicles in the production of keratin (the major protein of hair) and helps fight against DNA damage from ultra violet radiation via exposure from the sun. Good sources of vitamin E are soybeans and nuts.

Epoch Times: How did you become interested in being a hair doctor?

Dr. Dorin: Through my own personal experience with hair loss and seeking out potential options to restore it.

During my last year of medical school, I started to notice significant thinning of hair in the frontal region of my scalp. This prompted me to seek out top doctors in the New York region who specialized in hair restoration surgery. 

As I selected and came to know my now partner, Dr. Robert True, he invited me to do an elective rotation during my residency training. At the end of the rotation, he invited me to become an associate in the practice, as he felt I was naturally talented in this field. From this, I knew I had found my professional calling. 

Dr. Robert Dorin has over 10 years experience restoring hair to New Yorkers.