I’m talking about dry hair, itchy scalps, uncontrollable static and other winter woes with George Nikollaj, a stylist.
He tells me to rub a dryer sheet on my head. Bounce or Downy, I ask, thinking I’m so clever.
Doesn’t matter, he says in all seriousness, as he tells me dryer sheets are his secret in-case-of-emergency weapon for dealing with hair that’s full of static electricity and that I should keep some in my purse or car.
“I discovered that a long time ago,” Nikollaj says, recalling a photo shoot with a model whose hair was full of static. The photographer on the job told him to grab a dryer sheet. Nikollaj did, wiped it over the model’s hair and watched in amazement as the static disappeared.
Intrigued, I ask him for more tips. Here is what he recommends:
• Wash your hair less often in the winter.
“During the winter months – outdoors, it’s colder than normal, indoors it’s dryer than normal – I would always condition. I would almost during the winter months condition and not shampoo. Your hair, how dirty does it get? If you’re in yoga every day or working out every day, I understand. But someone who has thicker hair, curly hair, I’d rather you rinse really well and then add conditioner to your ends.”
• Consider using a leave-in conditioner.
“If you have finer, straighter hair, you want to do a leave-in conditioner. You can do conditioner you have in the shower, take the size of a pea, and put it … halfway from the top of your head to the end of your length.” In many cases, your hair produces enough oil for your scalp, and conditioner on the top of your head can make your hair flat.
However, if you’re African-American, you should condition all over. “Black hair is naturally dry.” And it takes an especially big beating in the winter.
• Take a cold shower.
“Hot water isn’t always the best for us in the shower. The hotter the water, the drier the skin, the drier the hair. You want to rinse your hair with tepid water when you’re just going to be leaving the shower. It just kind of seals everything down, and it locks in the moisture. The hotter the water, the more the cuticle will expand; the cooler the water, it will shut the cuticle down.”
• Consider turning your head into a salad – kind of – but stay away from mayonnaise.
“When the client who’s having dry scalp – and they don’t really want to go out and purchase a dandruff shampoo and they don’t want to do too much different – if you take a little bit of cider vinegar in the shower with you and put it on your scalp and rub it in really, really good … it takes out the inflammation, it cools down the scalp so you don’t have the dry scalp feel or itchiness or tightness of the head.” About a half-cup of vinegar should do the job.
You may have heard mayo is a great hair conditioner. It’s not. “Mayonnaise is such a thick fat, it’s not going to do it. All it’s going to do is sit on the top. What will work is extra virgin olive oil, avocados.” Leave the olive oil in for 15 minutes or so – even overnight will work, though you may ruin your pillowcase – and then wash it out. If you choose avocado as your conditioner, mash up the avocados like you’re making guacamole. Smooth it on your hair. Leave it in for a while and then wash.
• Don’t make a drastic change in hair color during the winter.
Your hair is already under stress from the weather and dryness. A big change in color will only add to the stress. “I would rather send them away on a good conditioning plan.”
• Go for the boar.
“I really love the natural boar bristle brush. Hair on hair seems to work better, smoother, nicer … the boar hair is pulling all your natural oils through the hair. When you’re dealing with these ceramic brushes, ceramic and plastic, all that’s doing is drying your hair. … I sell both in my salon, they both sell really well, but if you open my bag, all you’re going to see is natural boar head bristle brushes.”