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Winterizing Your Hair Care

Experts say harsh winter weather and a change in temperatures can be hair's No. 1 enemy. Here's why -- and what to do.

WebMD Feature

From hat hair to static electricity, split ends to dry frizz, when winter weather hits, a bad hair day can last an entire season. In fact, even if you live in a moderate climate, experts say you're still susceptible to hair-raising changes as the seasons pass.

"The environment can have some of the most damaging effects on hair in both summer and winter, but in winter it's often worse because people generally don't take as many precautions to protect their hair," says celebrity stylist Nick Chavez, owner of the Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Salon and a QVC hair care expert.

Sun exposure (which can be as intense on a ski slope as it is on a beach) combined with a blustery winter wind (which can snarl hair) as well as snow, rain, and icy cold (which makes hair brittle and dry) can all come together to create some pretty bad winter hair days, says Chavez.

What's that you say? You plan to spend all your time in the ski lodge with a hot toddy -- and not a ski pole -- in your hand? Not so fast snow bunny -- winter is still your hair's enemy. The reason is indoor heating, which experts say can be something akin to spending an entire afternoon under a hair dryer!

"It's not quite as dramatic as the damage would be from that, but it certainly gives you an idea of what indoor heating can do to your hair," says fashion runway stylist and Boston salon owner Marc Harris.

The good news: No matter what's causing your winter hair woes, you can take both protective and replenishing steps. At the top of the list for most stylists: regular use of a thick, rich, moisturizing conditioner with a few key ingredients.

"For me, the product has to contain essential fatty acids and humectants -- not only because they are best at moisturizing hair, but because they help attract and hold moisture in the hair, which can be a real challenge in winter weather," says Harris, who developed his own line of damage control hair products available at Salon Marc Harris, his Newbury Street salon. His key ingredients: soy protein and panthenol - must-haves, he says, to control winter hair.

For Chavez, whose Perfect Plus line of hair care products are sure sellouts for electronic retailer QVC, the key to choosing the right conditioner has everything to do with knowing your hair type.

If you are blessed with thick or curly African-American hair, or ultra thick, heavy Asian hair, Chavez tells WebMD you need a thick, heavy conditioning hair pack -- a deep treatment you leave on for about a half-hour, once or twice a week. But because these hair types generally hold oil at the roots -- one reason the rest of the hair can seem so ultra dry -- Chavez says it's especially important not to condition the area closest to the scalp.

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