10 Ways to Winter-proof Your Hair

Published in: Hair, Product Reviews

I’ve always been jealous of girls with wash and wear hair. When they toss their mane and it glistens from across the room, boys turn their heads, the clouds part, angels sing, blah blah blah. I am so not that girl. When left to its own devices, my hair resembles a dry, frizzy, unfortunate bale of hay.

Not that kind of Bale!


I have wavy, colored hair that dries out easily, so my hair takes a turn into hay-esque territory if I don’t keep it moisturized. One big thing I do to keep my hair from drying out is to let it air dry, but when the temperature drops I can’t stand wet hair. That means I have no choice but to use a blow dryer when I’m in a hurry.

Using a blow dryer frequently in winter also means I have to use several products to keep my hair from drying out. Here’s a step-by-step guide to 10 products I rely on to keep my hair moisturized and protected when the temperature drops.


Everything I put on my hair in winter must help retain and replenish as much moisture as possible. To kick start the moisturization process, once a week I use Phytonectar, a pre-shampoo oil treatment ($30.00 for a 1.7 fl oz bottle with pump) that hydrates ultra dry hair.


Phytonectar is a rich treatment made from egg yolk oil. If you’ve got a sensitive nose, then you might be turned off by the herbal, slightly eggy scent. I kinda like it, though. My hair is really thick, so I work in two pumps thoroughly from mid-shaft to the ends. I then put my hair up in a bun, secure it with a claw clip and just hang out for a while to let the oil penetrate. While I’m waiting I’ll putter around the house or watch TV to give the product time to soak in and do its thing.

After half an hour, I’ll jump in the shower, wet my hair and work the Phytonectar into a light lather. Then, I’ll finish by washing with a moisturizing shampoo, my favorite being Bumble & Bumble’s Gentle Shampoo ($21.00 for a 8 oz bottle). It smells like honeysuckle, lathers up nicely and always rinses clean. The extra pre-shampoo step with Phytonectar makes a huge difference in keeping my hair soft and moisturized.

Even though I lurves my Bumble & Bumble Gentle Shampoo, I can only use it once a week because if I shampoo too often my hair dries out. To avoid this, I do a conditioner “wash” with a silicone-free drugstore conditioner. My favorite is VO5 Vanilla Mint Tea Clarifying Conditioner (about $2.00 for a 15 fl oz bottle) because it’s super cheap and smells like mint tea! I put a generous amount into my palms, vigorously massaging it into my scalp and hair from roots to ends. I’ve been doing conditioner washes for about a year now and they really help to moisturize my hair.

After rinsing out the VO5, I squeeze out the excess water from my hair and coat it with a moisturizing conditioner like Philip B. Deep-Conditioning Creme Rinse ($26.00 for a 6 oz tube). This silicon-free, shea butter conditioner moisturizes well without weighing down my hair. Its spicy scent reminds me of fresh baked pumpkin bread, and it rinses clean, leaving my hair feeling soft and smelling yummy.


When the weather gets cold my scalp goes nuts. One thing I do to keep the flakes at bay is mix granulated brown sugar into my shampoo or conditioner. When you massage the grains of sugar into your scalp, the friction removes the flakes. It’s a cheap and natural exfoliant. Put a few tablespoons into a plastic bowl you set on a counter outside your shower, but don’t forget: mix it into your shampoo or conditioner immediately before washing. Wait too long and the sugar grains will dissolve.

Not only a scalp exfoliant and baking ingredient, but also one of my favorite movies ever

When the flakes are really persistent and I need something stronger, I’ll wash with Head & Shoulders Sensitive Care Shampoo ($7.00 for a 23 fl oz bottle). It’s cheap, and I find it the least drying of all the dandruff shampoos.

Speaking of drying, try not to overdo the hair dryer. Might I suggest the miraculous T3. I know I go on and on about this thing, but seriously, it changed my life. Yes, it’s very expensive ($300), but it’s also the best dryer on the market today. It’ll dry your hair faster than Britney downs a bag of Cheetoes!


Before I blow dry, I apply a protective layer of leave-in conditioner and gel. Right now I’m loving on Phyto 7 ($26.00 for 1.7 fl oz tube), a moisturizing leave-in conditioner made from plant extracts. It’s creamy, has a non-greasy texture and doesn’t leave my hair feeling sticky or heavy. I work a small amount throughout my hair, concentrating on the ends.


Next up: a few dollops of Philip B. Drop Dead Hair Straightening Baume ($22.00 6.5 oz tube). Although this gel is first a hair straightener, I like it for both curly and straight hair looks in winter because of its amazing staying power in humidity. My hair stays stick straight no matter what – rain, mist or fog. It’s also silicone-free, woo hoo!


The last product I rely on during the winter months is Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo ($23.00 for a 3.2 oz aerosol spray can).


I was really turned off by dry (waterless) shampoos after the disastrous Salon Grafix incident a few months ago, but Naturia has completely changed my tune. It freshens my scalp and gives my greasy roots a lift, extending the life of my blowout by at least two days. It also has a nice floral scent and doesn’t turn my roots white, either.


I’ve always wished for low maintenance hair, but, unfortunately, nature didn’t deal me those cards. The extra work to keep my hair happy is worth it to me because hair is that one accessory you wear every day. And, hey, when all else fails, there’s always hats!


I’m a little under the weather today (*achoo!*), so I’m going to spend the day chilling out. I hope your Saturday has been fun so far!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 26 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Christine says:

    I feel so fortunate now to have hair that needs no fuss. I think I would be doomed otherwise. Lately I’ve taken to blow drying my hair (though I use a cheap random blow dryer I’ve had for a few years, retractable cord, oh yes!) because it’s damn cold in the morning. I thought I might dry out my hair, but I swear my hair is healthier now, ha.

    But wow, that’s a lot of hair maintenance products! I suggested brown sugar to my boy, and he scoffed, “I’m not putting sugar in my hair!”

  2. Barbie says:

    I love Brown Sugar too! (the movie)

  3. SarahM says:

    Great tips, Karen. My hair is just like yours. Worst of all is the dandruff (eek!) in winter. Selson Blue or Head and Shoulders make it go away for me, but they’re very harsh and leave my hair even more brittle!

    I can’t wait to try some of your tips. The brown sugar one is sweet, hahaha! Now I get it. Because it is sugar it dissolves and washes away.

  4. Glosslizard says:

    Aaww, I’m sorry you’re feeling under the weather, hope you feel better soon!

    The brown sugar in the shampoo is brilliant! I am *so* putting sugar in my hair! 😉 And, as always, you look so great in that hat!

    The fragrance event was the usual for these things, loud, crowded, and really a lot of fun! They had champagne and a dj spinning hits of the 80’s which confused me a little, but hey, I love it! The little food items were mostly desserts including butter cookies, chocolate-dipped strawberries and some truly excellent mini-eclairs! I scored mucho samples and ended up walking away with a bottle of Hermes Kelly Caleche (which came with a really cute little purse-size bonus bottle)! It’s a little hard at those things because one’s nose becomes overwhelmed long before the perfume supply is exhausted! SA’s were jealously clinging to tiny jars of coffee beans, hiding them in between customer uses! 🙂

    Of course the makeup section was open too, so I went to Chanel and caved (it being the first of the month and all) on the glossimer trio and the teint innocence compact! Whee! I have a total Chanel high! I’ll try to send you some pictures today!

    Have a good, lazy Sunday, and take good care of yourself!

  5. Rowena says:

    If only it was was that kind of Bale! *Sighhhh*

  6. Karen says:

    Hi Christine,

    Yeah, I think most (straight) boys wouldn’t be down with the brown sug, lol.

    If you’re blow drying more you might want to find a leave in heat protectant to keep your lovely hair shiny.

  7. Karen says:

    Hi Barbie,

    Isn’t that a great film? If I’m ever feeling sad or under the weather (like today) I like to just put the DVD in and curl up on the couch. I like the characters and their love for hip hop. I feel like if they were real I’d totally hang out with them.

    Have a good rest of your weekend, girl 🙂

  8. Karen says:

    Hey SarahM,

    I hear ya on the flakies issue. I don’t know what your budget is, but if it’s a ongoing issue you might wanna check out Bumble & Bumble Tea Tree shampoo. I used it on and off for years and it really helped to keep my scalp healthy.

    Good luck!

  9. Karen says:


    You get a big fat WOOT WOOT! I am so very jealous. I was looking at the Chanel Web site last night and was eyeing the Teint Innocence Compact pretty hard. I highly suggest NOT looking at their site late at night because you just might end up with a long old list of things you want!

    The fragrance event sounds like fun. Maybe next time you can bring a few coffee beans in your purse, lol. I’ve smelled Caleche before and I like it too, good choice!

    God I love the French perfumers. BTW, have you ever smelled scents by Annick Goutal?

  10. Karen says:

    I know, Rowena. Sigh. I know. 😉

  11. Nah, it’s worse to have overly “moist” hair. I think.

  12. Glosslizard says:

    Hah! I look at the Chanel site so often it’s not even funny! I like to dream! I used the Teint Innocence compact today and I am very impressed (Thanks, Holly)! It really is the most natural looking foundation I’ve ever used (although in all honesty, I haven’t used a lot of foundations… mostly samples from the Usual Suspects at Macy’s), and I’ve been wearing it for about 6 hours now and it feels great, not dry at all!

    Great idea on the coffee bean stash… d’you think Peets or Starbucks would clear the olfactory palate better? 😉

    Nooooo, I haven’t smelled Annick Goutal… what do you like?

    Final news o’ the day… I did it! I was at Union Square today (don’t ask) and after searching through six stores Bloomingdales (on the way back to the parking lot, heh!) had TWO Chanel fragrance sets left! I GOT ONE!!! Yes, I had socked away some bucks just in case of such an occurrence! Yay! I’ll give reports on the scents as I try them out! The fragrances are Chanel No. 5, Coco, Coco Mademoiselle, Allure and Allure Sensuelle. Probably they are still available online for those as wants ’em! 0.12 oz (3.5 ml) of parfum in each scent!

    Feel better soon… have some more chicken soup! 🙂

  13. Karen says:

    Do you put loose powder on top of it? I’ve never used compact foundation because I always had the impression that it was heavy coverage.

    Annick Goutal is a fab French perfumer. You can find the line at Nordstrom. I have Petite Cherie (smells like pears!), Eau de Ciel (light floral) and Des Lys (limited edition lily). My fave is Des Lys, but only cause I bought it at the Annick Goutal shop in Paris and every time I wear it I think of that day. 🙂

    And yay, Chanel fragrance wardrobe – I am so living vicarously through you! I Allure Sensuelle is my second favorite to Coco Madmoiselle. It changes throughout the day!

  14. Glosslizard says:

    I wanted to see how it performed at my laziest, so I used no powder and no primer today. I was impressed by how well it held up! I don’t tend to like powder because it always seems to dry my skin, but I do use primer when I want my look to last! I’ll try it with primer next!

    I also didn’t want a really heavy foundation (I usually just use spot foundation instead of all over) so I was looking for something sheer and blendable. This foundation is a lot more versatile than I would have imagined, ranging from a pretty sheer look to fairly heavy coverage if I layer it up! I didn’t try the liquid foundation, so I can’t say how it compares, I just tried the compact and liked it well enough to buy it!

    I will definitely sniff some Annick Goutal the next time I’m in Nordstrom, I always love to try new fragrances! I was in France once, and I bought Vol de Nuit at the Guerlain store on the Champs-Elysees, so I know just what you mean! 😉

    I’m planning to wear Allure Sensuelle soon, I know I got a sample of it once and I remember really liking it! I think it might be perfect for my big date! 😀

  15. Megan says:

    Karen…I feel for you…Honestly…this is why I don’t have long hair anymore…it was too much to deal with. 🙂

  16. Karen says:

    Hi Megan,

    Yeah, it was more of a pain when it was super long for my wedding. I’m glad I cut most of it off. I love your cute betty boop hair! It suits you to a T! I would chop more off but my neck gets cold come winter. 🙂

  17. Karen says:


    I love Guerlain fragrances! Champs-Elysees is my fave.

    One more question re your new Teint Innocence compact! What do you apply it with? Sponge? Brush? Fingers? Me thinks I will have to stop by the Chanel counter on the way home from work to check that foundation out!

  18. Glosslizard says:

    Hi! Sorry it took me so long to get back… it’s been busy here! So far I’ve played with using a sponge to apply and then I went back to using my fingers. I’ll probably try a brush and then go back to using my fingers again! Ha! I use my fingers for most of my foundations, I like the way the heat of my fingertips helps them blend!

    I like Champs-Elysees too, I’ll buy it one of these years! 🙂 So far I have collected Vol de Nuit and Insolence and The Husband gave me Samsara for one of our anniversaries! Such a lovely fragrance range!

  19. Karen says:

    I will have to smell all of your Guerlain faves when I go to Nordies. 🙂

    I like fingers too, if I’m in a hurry and can’t find my fave foundation brush, the MAC 182.

  20. Crystal says:

    You first line cracked me up!!! Because my cousin and I deal with that bale of hay sindrome growing up…lol

    I am a hair stylist so i can manage my hair alot better now. I was reading of all the products that you use on your hair. Alot of expensive ones that are probaly doing the job…then I see you take v05 and use it….the scent is probaly all that it has going for it…I just don’t understand why invest so much in to your hair care products then totally beat the purpose with a cheap bottle of wax.

    The same with the Head and shoulders. In my salon we offer a in salon treatment for our clients. It is by Redken and it is called Sclap Relief Treatment. We do it right at the shampoo area and it involves a 10 minute scalp massage that activates the treatment. It is great if you have a dry/flakey scalp due to dandruff,product build up,or just dry skin. It works for 4-6 weeks depending on the amount of products you use. And it is only $18 ..you can follow up with the Redken Scalp relief Conditioner or even Paul Mitchell has one called Tea Tree. They can only be guarenteed if sold in a salon.

    Well, any other questions you might have you can ask.
    Take care and God Bless!!!

  21. ilovecheese says:

    eeeeeeee! Karen, I’m so glad I see I’ve found another mint-tea vanilla V05 conditioner lover! (LOl, sounds weird), but I heart that conditioner! I was, incidentally, just going through your blog, lemming at the Goldrush CD e/s quint, and I say..let see some hair product reviews, and I found this..yippee! My hair has lost its softness lately, and I’m at a loss how to treat it. It remains frizzy despite loads of conditioner/hot oil treatments, and I’m not tookeen on spending too much right now. I’ll try the conditioner wash and see how it works (my hair is oily on the 2nd day after shampoo and I tend to break out on my forehead if I don’t wash it often).

    ilovecheese’s last blog post..Dark Blue/Silver Grey EOTDs

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