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Winter-Proof Your Hair

Don't let winter stress out your tresses. We've got easy style solutions and proven products to take your hair from blah to brrrilliant even in dry conditions.

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Ericka McConnell
Ericka McConnell
Ericka McConnell
woman wearing winter hat and blanket
Ericka McConnell
Ericka McConnell
Ericka McConnell
Ericka McConnell
Ericka McConnell
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Keep Your Cool

When it's freezing out, nothing sounds more comforting than a steaming shower. The problem is, "hot water damages your hair by washing away the oils that hold the cuticle together, which can cause frizz and breakage," says Mary Lupo, MD, a dermatologist in New Orleans. For the sleekest style, take a tepid shower and do a final rinse with cool water to help smooth your hair.

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Shampoo Smarter

You don't head out for a run in January wearing shorts and a tank. You shouldn't rely on warm-weather standbys for hair, either. Dry conditions call for a gentler shampoo. "Look for kinds that are packed with oil or a humectant, like panthenol; these often contain milder ingredients that won't strip strands," says Ni'Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist in Fairfield, New Jersey. Massage shampoo into your scalp and roots only where hair is dirtiest, then rinse it through the rest of your strands to clean them (don't rub!). This helps protect the lower, more fragile part of hair.

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Treat Tresses Gently

When your skin feels dry, you slather on moisturizer. Do the same for your hair. Look for treatments with protein, collagen, and amino acids, which "strengthen by forming a shield around your hair shaft," Wilson says. Also, after you rinse out your conditioner, apply a leave-in kind for an extra boost of hydration. If you'll be exercising outside, spray on a lightweight, dry oil mist and put your hair in a bun.

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Blow-Dry Speedily

The less time you spend drying your hair, the better. Strands are surprisingly strong, but they're more likely to break when wet. To dry hair fast, blot dampness with paper towels; they're "superabsorbent and not as damaging as cotton or terry-cloth towels," says Jet Rhys, owner of eponymous salons in San Diego.

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Fight Pesky Flakes

Dandruff can flare up in the winter, but, surprisingly, not because of dryness. "That's what people assume, so they shampoo less," Dr. Lupo says. "That makes dandruff worse by creating buildup." Flaking is actually caused by inflammation, and washing your hair can help soothe it. Use a shampoo formulated specifically for dandruff-prone hair daily.

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Stop the Static

You know the drill: You get to work and take off your hat, and tons of hairs are standing up, as if you had stuck your finger in a light socket. What's going on? The strands have become positively charged from rubbing against your hat, and they're repelling one another, creating static. Minimize it by hydrating hair with a conditioning styling lotion. "For an ultraquick fix, smooth a dab of hand cream over frizz," says Clyde Elezi, owner of the Drawing Room salon in New York City.

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Winter-Proofing Products

Use Pantene Pro-V Color Nourishing Treatment ($3.99, drugstores) to boost your hair's vibrancy.

Stop flakes with Garnier Fructis Anti-Dandruff Clean & Fresh 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner ($4.69, drugstores).

Spray on lightweight Alterna Bamboo Kendi Dry Oil Mist ($24, to calm static and frizz.

Avon Advance Techniques Shine Treatment ($8, leaves parched parts glossy.

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Winter-Proofing Products (continued)

The Body Shop Rainforest Moisture Shampoo ($10, is rich in shine-building oil.

Pureology Colour Stylist AntiSplit BlowDry Styling Cream ($28, contains olive oil to protect strands from hot tools.

Repair damage with vitamin E-enriched Biolage Ultra Control Deep Smoothing Masque ($17,

Dove Damage Therapy Shine Boost Conditioner ($3.76, drugstores) softens your strands.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2011.

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