Air-Drying Your Hair in the Winter Can Seriously Damage Your Strands—Here’s How To Do it the Right Way

Winter can be a tricky time from a beauty perspective. For starters, it’s an especially drying season for skin and can lead to some pretty gnarly chapped lips. It can also make knowing what to do with your hair a challenge. After all, excessive heat is never a good idea, but is air-drying it really any better?

Aside from the fact that walking around with wet hair when it's 40 degrees outside is generally uncomfortable, it turns out that it also isn't great for your hair. According to stylists, air-drying your hair in the winter can actually cause some serious damage. Keep reading to find out why—and to uncover how to air-dry your hair the right way, once and for all.

Is it safe to air-dry your hair in winter?

According to Irinel De León, a stylist with Mane Addicts, cold wind and weather have a greater risk of damage on strands than warm, humid air does. “The hair becomes a lot more vulnerable when wet, especially because water molecules expand, which can make the hair more likely to break,” she says.

Kathleen Riley, another Mane Addicts stylist, confirms this, noting that air-drying your hair in winter will leave your hair drier and frizzier than in warmer months. “It’ll also take longer to dry because it’s cold out,” she says.

How to air-dry your hair in the winter

That doesn’t mean you can’t air-dry your hair from now until June, though—it just means you'll need to learn how to do it right. First things first, you'll want to properly towel dry your hair as soon as you step out of the shower. “The best way to air-dry hair in winter is to make sure you towel dry as much as possible or wrap your hair in a microfiber towel,” says Riley. “Then, add some product to reduce frizz and add shine—nothing too heavy as it’ll take much longer to dry.”

Next comes the products. “Infusing your hair with a moisturizing primer or cream can make all the difference,” says De León. “My favorite to use in colder weather is the Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Styling Cream. It has a UV Protectant and also will protect the strands from environmental aggressors.”

Another way to enhance your air-dry routine? By being generous with leave-in conditioners. “I love to air dry my hair using a light serum to reduce frizz and a leave-in conditioner spray,” says Riley. “My favorite one is the Unite 7 Seconds Detangler. You can then twist your hair and put it into a claw clip to dry.”

When in doubt, use a blow dryer

Although excessively using heat on your hair can, indeed, cause damage to your strands, De León says that thoughtfully using blow-dryers and diffusers—paired with a heat protectant, of course—is the safest way to dry your hair in the winter.

“Diffusing your strands on low heat and speed, even if it’s just for a few minutes, will help prevent your strands from completely drying in the colder weather, which is what leads to dryness,” she explains. So if you don’t have time to fully air-dry your hair before stepping out into the wintry tundra, don’t be afraid to plug in your dryer and get the job done—just be sure you're limiting your hot-tool use to three times a week, max. With these safe styling tips in your arsenal, your hair will stay healthy from now until spring.

For more tips on reducing damage in your hairstyling routine, check out the video below. 


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