Your Fall and Winter Haircare Questions Answered

Okay, ladies! How fantastic is it that your questions have been answered by Pantene’s Principal Scientist, Jeni Thomas? Pretty fantastic if you ask me! Without further ado!

Jillian – The static! I have long, thick hair and everything I wear in the winter makes my hair so static-y. I try to use anti-static spray on my sweaters, scarves and coats but it just doesn’t cut it. What do I do??

Jillian, static happens as hair is exposed to very dry environments, which often happens in the winter. Hair fibers lose the moisture they need to prevent the build-up of static charge. Humidifiers can help to add moisture to the air which can keep static at bay, but you often have more control over your hair than the air you are in. Use a good moisturizing conditioner (Pantene’s Dry to Moisturized versions), which can help insulate your hair. If you notice static occur as you go about your day, carry a good leave-on treatment with you (Pantene’s Medium-Thick Straighten and Smooth Crème is a great one!) for spot treatments that can calm static-y locks. Also, brushing hair with traditional brushes can create static – there are now anti-static brushes available, like the Braun Satin Hair Brush that uses active ion technology to neutralize static and immediately calm hair while you brush it.

Sara – The massive knots that build up at the back of my head in the winter when wear sweaters or drive a car (presumably because of rubbing of my hair against the sweater or head rest of the car). Help!

Sara, as rough hair fibers rub against each other or against other fibers, like wool fibers in a sweater, they can easily entangle. Fibers with a smooth surface are less likely to tangle. To smooth rough fibers, be sure to condition your hair every time you wash – smoothing versions can help if you have medium or thick hair and can handle weightier conditioners. If you have finer hair, go for a fine-haired version like Pantene’s Fine, Dry to Moisturized conditioner. Using a detangling spray after your shower will also help to smooth fibers and prevent tangles.

Jen – I get terrible split ends when the weather gets cold but I honestly do NOT want to cut my long hair. how can I fix them or at least hide them?? something other than a cut?

Jen, we’ve seen in the lab that it is easier to create split ends in dry conditions than in humid conditions, so I’m not surprised that you are seeing more in colder weather. You can repair split ends and prevent new ones from forming with a product like Pantene’s Split-end Repair Crème – this can help extend your hair’s “life” between cuts when you apply to the ends of damp or dry hair. Be sure to reapply after each wash as the technology that helps to bind existing split ends will be washed away when you shampoo your hair.

Cristin Curry – My hair always breaks off when it gets cold. no good. help me fix it please!

Cristin, cold, dry air can leave hair brittle and prone to breakage. You need a good strengthening regimen to help keep your hair strong against damage. Pantene’s Strengthening shampoo and conditioner systems can help – be sure to find the system that is right for your hair type as they are available for Fine hair and Medium-Thick hair. If you use heated styling tools like flat irons or curling irons, try to minimize the amount of heat your hair is exposed to by using as few passes as possible and lowering the heat setting. Also, be sure to use a heat protection spray before passing the iron through your hair, as it can give an extra layer of protection against damaging heat.

Kara – My hair is very fine, but I have a lot of it. I let it air dry as it’s naturally wavy. The problem: no matter what I do or what conditioning products I use, I get a small rat’s nest in the bottom layer. It doesn’t matter if my (layered) hair reaches my collar bone or mid-back. I’ve had no color on it, some highlights, used clear glosses, etc. Help me!

Kara, your concerns are not uncommon for naturally wavy or curly hair, despite the efforts you are taking to care for your hair. The natural twists and turns of wavy/curly hair create rough spots along the fiber, which can easily snag as fibers rub across each other. In addition to conditioning every time you shampoo (a smoothing or moisturizing version should help), I would recommend adding a leave-in treatment, such as Pantene’s Curly Anti-Frizz Straightening Crème, to the ends of your layers when your hair is dry – even if you’re not trying to straighten your hair, this will help to smooth your ends and cut down on the snags.

Jeanette – My hair is color treated but my scalp is way too oily so I must wash every day but I can’t condition every day. If I don’t condition my hair gets horribly static-y. Please help my confused hair.

Jeanette, this is a very common problem for color-treated hair, which is easily stripped of the moisture it needs to combat static, especially in the dry winter air. If you’re not already using a shampoo for color-treated hair, you should consider switching. Color-treated hair responds to conditioning ingredients differently than hair that has not been color-treated, so products designed specifically to work on color-treated hair, like Pantene’s Color Preserve shampoos, can be more effective in doing their jobs – which includes helping hair hold onto the moisture it needs to keep static at bay longer. Conditioning is especially important for color-treated hair, which tends to be dry and breakage-prone. If your scalp is too oily, avoid applying conditioner to the roots of your hair. Instead, try applying from the middle of your head down to the tips to strike a better balance between the moisturization that your hair needs without giving your scalp oils an easy path down your hair fibers.

Kate – As others have mentioned I get the worst tangles in the back, underneath layers of my hair. I am assuming it’s from friction with scarves, coat collars etc. but it looks horrible and is really damaging those sections of my hair (truth be told, this happens all year round for me but seems worse in the Winter) ~ my hair is long (well below my shoulders, medium thickness, straight and color treated. It seems that the longer my hair gets the more this seems to happen. Any suggestions?

Kate, the longer your hair is, the more it has experienced. The portion of your hair below your shoulders has most likely been through 3+ years of summers, styling, color treatments, etc which leave the ends much rougher than the roots. You’re exactly right that as the rougher fibers rub against your scarves, collars, and sweaters, the friction that is created can be damaging – the types of fibers your hair encounters can change the amount of friction that is created (for example, wool can create more than silk), which is why this tends to be a winter concern. I would recommend using a leave-on treatment on your ends to smooth the rough spots and minimize friction – my top pick is Pantene’s Split-end Repair Crème, which has gone through testing in the lab to ensure it minimizes damaging friction. After you style your hair, rub some of the crème in your palm and lightly spread it across the fibers that may come into contact with your clothes. You can also carry it with you if you feel you need a spot treatment later in the day.

Caroline – Since my baby was born I’ve noticed my hairline gets oily while my ends are exceptionally dry- esp. with the e colder weather. Pre-baby, I tackled this dryness with deep conditioning treatments but now they just weigh my hair down and contribute to the oiled scalp/hairline. Help!

Caroline, the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy and childbirth can cause major changes to your hair and scalp – in addition to all of the other physical changes! Many women notice their hair becomes thinner in the months after childbirth as the hair growth process goes through some natural adjustments. You should change your hair care routine to suit the hair type you have now. Pantene’s Ultra-Light Moisturizing Treatment for fine hair may be a good substitute for the deep conditioning treatments you’ve been using – it’s a great option for hair that needs moisturization but is weighed down by heavier products. Try applying the treatment from the tips of your hair up, covering the bottom ¾ of the fiber’s length but avoiding your scalp/hairline. Keep in mind that your hair may continue to change before finding its new normal – if you notice your hair type change again, be sure to change your products to match it.

SpyceGurl – I just came in from a walk in very windy, dry conditions. After a perfect blowout this morning, my static and flyways make me look like a need to return to my home in Fraggle Rock – stuck to my face, my neck, flying above my head. Every year i think I’ll try to grow my hair out a little, and every year, i end up cutting it off because of the static and flatness! I have shoulder length hair and use Redken shampoo and conditioner, Bumble and Bumble thickening spray, and a little bit of styling crème. I don’t wash every day, and conditioning too often seems to make things worse, i use a Moroccan oil conditioner once every two weeks. Getting desperate as winter approaches, may have to cut it all off – again!!

SypceGurl, thanks for the flashback to Fraggle Rock, and I remember all too well their out-of-control hair – definitely not what most women want for their hair! After your blowout, you had a certain level of moisture in your hair, which most likely dropped after being in windy, dry conditions. As this happened, your hair didn’t have the moisture it needed to dissipate charge, so static charge built up, causing your hair to both fly-away and be attracted to your skin.

Instead of cutting, consider a few hair care changes. Conditioning every time you wash your hair will help, as conditioners and oils can provide some insulation from static charge – just be sure to find the right conditioning weight for your hair (from your description, sounds like a version for finer hair may be best). You might also try using hairspray – it creates temporary “welds” between fibers, and it is harder for a group of fibers to flyaway than it is for single, unattached fibers to get out of line.

Thanks so much for taking time to answer our questions, Jeni!!

  1. Ruby Hair Salon Annapolis

    November 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I love the format here. We have tons of clients asking where they can find information on hairstyle and grooming based on their specific needs. It’s great you guys provide a forum to do this. Well done!

  2. Lindsey

    November 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Great post!

  3. Danielle

    November 13, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Hurray for timely advice! Loved the Fraggle Rock reference especially! You know, except for the scarf-related static, I prefer how my hair styles in cooler weather. Mainly because there’s less humidity, and therefore, less frizz.

    I’d love to see a post all about recommended conditioners! That would be another timely one.

  4. Jaxie

    November 14, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Ugh. This lady totally discredits herself as soon as she says that you can “repair” split-ends just so she can plug the Pantene product.