How to Care for Curly Hair in Winter

how to care for curly hair in winterHere’s a question for all the curly girls out there: what are your best tips for taking care of your curly hair in the winter? What are your best tips for controlling frizz, moisturizing your hair, caring for your scalp, and so forth? We had a great discussion about curly and wavy hair in the winter a loooong time ago, and I thought we’d have an updated to care for curly hair in winter

Here are the major questions for curly hair in the winter: when do you shower? Do you wet your full head every day — or just attack it with a spray bottle in the morning? How do you avoid wet hair on your commute (does anyone do the spray/rejuvenate curls step at the office?) What hats, headbands, or other types of things do you like best to preserve your curls? Do you find that you need to cleanse your hair MORE–or less in the winter — and if it’s less does your scalp need extra TLC? What curly hair products do you like best for winter? (Does anyone prefer to just wear updos in the winter?)

As I’ve noted before, my hair always had a wave to it, but as I get older it gets curlier and curlier. There are huge differences in my curl pattern, though — the back of my head is super kinky, while the pieces in the front are looser, almost wavyish — and although I would say I’m getting more in control of when it looks “good” (maybe 80% of the time now versus 40% of the time in previous years), I still get a blowout for major events.  So: I consider myself to be a “part-time curly” in that I only wear it curly some of the time. Accordingly, I get “straight” cuts, not curly cuts, because the few times I’ve had curly cuts (years ago now) I hated getting blowouts because there were so many odd, choppy layers. (When my curly cut was blown straight, my hair definitely had that “toddler attacked my hair with scissors” (or, hey, “I got drunk and tried to cut my hair”) kind of look to it — and that’s from the Mothership of curly cuts, the Devachon salon in SoHo.) Last year I also started getting keratin treatments based on the recommendation of another curly friend — it’s made blowouts easier and faster, and it’s made my regular curls less frizzy and slightly looser. Expensive and time-consuming (the keratin appointment is 3-4 hours), but I kind of like it.

Curly Hair Products I use and like:

This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!

Note that all of these links go to Amazon, which I did just because it was a fast and easy way to give you a visual of the product — you can find a lot of these at a better price at your local drugstore. Also note that in the beauty world it’s a truth generally acknowledged that Amazon may not have “authorized” sellers (or out of date products, or fakes) so: caveat emptor. 

Readers with curly, kinky, or wavy hair — what are your tips? How do you care for your curly hair in the winter? 

Stock photo: Shutterstock/Jeanette Dietl.

What are the best tips for how to care for curly hair in the winter? We had a great discussion with the Corporette readers a long time ago, and thought we'd update it -- Kat shared her tips as a "part-time curly," and other readers advised how to deal when it's freezing outside and you can't just quickly blowdry your hair like a straight-haired woman.


  1. I have fine, curly hair and I have really liked Shea Moisture products – especially their spray-in oil. I love the pink bottle (hibiscus?) – it does have a really strong scent.

    I currently use the purple Kirkland shampoo (dupe of Pureology, I think) and Bumble & Bumble super rich conditioner. Then I spray with something like the Shea Moisture oil or another prep spray, then a curl cream or gel. Right now I have a short style (long-ish pixie) because I was tired of my post-baby wispies going nuts.

  2. Anonymous :

    It sounds like you weren’t getting very good curly cuts! My hair barely has any layers at all, otherwise it would look like a triangle. I have 2C/3A hair but it’s EXTREMELY thick, coarse and heavy.

    My routine is the exact same year round…wash at night, curl cream, scrunch, air dry for a few hours, then sleep on it. Some days I wake up and it’s perfect, some days it’s a hot mess, but it mostly turns out fine. I’ll fix with a curling iron or wear it up if it can’t be salvaged. I only wash every 4 or 5 days. I’ve accepted that my hair will always have the au naturale, undone look. I like it.

    Blowdrying wrecks my curls so I always air dry. And I never blow dry it straight because it would literally take hours. That’s the other reason why I have to wash at night so it can air dry overnight. Otherwise I’d be spending my entire work day with wet hair.

    • When your curls aren’t even in curlyness like Kat’s, if your hair appears to not have layers when it’s curly, when it’s straight it will. Mine is the same way (MUCH curlier in the back) and I have the same experience. I just get a curly cut and don’t ever straighten mine.

      • Anonymous :

        Right, but I think cutting curly hair with layers is an outdated way of styling hair. Bad layers especially will have that shelf effect.

  3. Anonymous :

    I am trying really hard to embrace my natural waves/curls, instead of splurging on keratin. Following this thread… I recently switched to co-washing, and I always do a leave in and a styling cream, but it’s still not enough to get my curls to ‘clump’ and de-frizz. I just ordered an expensive silk hair turban to sleep in, so hopefully that’s the magic bullet!

  4. Two Cents :

    I have fine curly hair as well. My hair was stick straight until I was a child, then became crazy curly when I was in high school. Go figure.

    I use the Aveda Ivati shampoo which has been a huge help for my thinning hair, the Aussie 3 minute miracle deep conditioner, and Devacurl ultra gel. I then use clips to give the front some lift. The main thing is that I don’t touch my hair after I have put gel in it. I leave it alone for a good 2 hours before crunching it out. This is my routine irrespective of season, I don’t do anything special in the winter.

    • Two Cents :

      Oh also, the only way I can wear my hair down is if I wet it/shampoo it. 2nd day hair does not work for me, in part because my hair is fine and so it just looks lifeless the second day. So usually on the second day I will put it up in a french knot or just in a low ponytail. My hair looks so much better down but I don’t want to wet it every day, especially because I color my hair.

  5. Anonymous :

    Wash and airdry my hair twice a week. I use a shower cap the rest of the time. I have a very loose but warm hat to avoid hat hair on cold days.

    • This is what ROSA does! She has naturally dirty blond curly hair. She gets lots of complements on her hair. Unfortunately, my hair is long blond and very straight. Dad says I look like a scarecrow, so I always have to do something with it. FOOEY! If I were like Rosa, I would be MARRIED already. She got all of the looks, tho I seemed to have gotten all of the brains. I suppose I cant be to mad. YAY!!

  6. Anonymous :

    I have wavy hair, (fine, but thick), that’s just above shoulder length.

    1. I wash in the mornings (b&b shampoo and a rich conditioner) and scrunch dry with a microfiber towel.
    2. I scrunch in/finger comb in bumble&bumble’s air dry product (basically a styling lotion), and scrunch/blot out more water with an old t-shirt.
    3. Spray in some salt/sea spray and scrunch again with the towel.
    4. Run the defroster in my car on high for the 30-40 car ride, which gets most of the dripping wet out and then it air dries at work.
    5. Do not touch/comb thru hair.
    6. This is basically what I’d do anytime of year. My hair just happens to be short enough to be wavy now because I chopped it.

  7. Reptile Eye :

    Possibly too late for today, but I’ll try. I posted the other day about the sudden emergence of reptile skin around my eyes, and several indicated I had likely developed an allergic reaction to a product. For those of you with very sensitive skin, can you recommend an eye make up remover that is non-irritating? My lancome is suddenly stinging like crazy given how rough my skin is. Not sure if it is the cause of my new look, but the irritation certainly isn’t helping. Appreciate any recs for a mild, non irritating remover.

    • Anonymous :

      Stop wearing eye makeup while this is going on! I would use a really gentle unscented cold cream or moisturizer to remove makeup.

    • Anonymous :

      Micellar water for makeup removal
      Fresh aloe (I have a plant in the window) to soothe. And I keep a bottle of rosewater in the fridge which I put on a cotton pad and use as toner before the aloe, which also helps. Any other creams generally make it worse.

    • Pure organic coconut oil is the best eye makeup remover in the world. I slather it on and then use a warm wet washcloth to wipe it off.

    • So rash== cortisone helps, periorificial dermatitis == cortizone does not help. I’m currently fighting with the latter… alas its related to rosacea and so there’s no simple fix. Get thee to a dermatologist

  8. Maudie Atkinson :

    My hair is decidedly not curly, but I am a (near daily) shower cap user. I splurged on the Shhhowercap brand after hearing women at my gym rave about it, and it is worth every penny.

  9. Curly Lady :

    My curly routine is basically the same year round, except I probably use a little more conditioner and oil. I have 3A/3B curls and this routine has taken years to work out. So, if you want to wear your hair curly, I’d just recommend trying different methods until you find something that works for you.

    I only was every 3-4 days unless my hair gets really sweaty or the curls aren’t really salvageable. When I wash, I use b&B curly line shampoo and conditioner, using 2-3 times more conditioner than I use shampoo. I only ever let a comb touch my hair when I have conditioner in it, so I’ll also comb out in the shower with a wide tooth comb. Leave conditioner on while I finish the rest of my shower then rinse it and scrunch it. I gently scrunch some water out as I get out of the shower and then use a turban-type towel made of microfiber. Wear that for about 10 mins or so and then use b&B curly line primer and styling cream. I then use b&B straight blow dry gel stuff. This is a new addition to my routine on recommendation of a fantastic hairdresser, and it just helps define the curls. Then blow dry with a diffuser with my head upside down. Usually I dry it about 2/3 of the way or so. If I leave it too wet, I don’t have enough body at the roots.

    I sleep on a silk pillowcase, which has helped me cut down on washing. I’m considering getting some sort of hair wrap for while I’m sleeping as well. Then in the morning, I just put oil on my hair to calm down the frizzies. My hair is dry enough I can use the oil almost up to my scalp, but usually only do the bottom 1/2 to 3/4 so it doesn’t weigh down for the next day. If it starts looking too heavy, I’ll use a little dry shampoo on my roots to give more body at the roots.

    The single most important thing for my curls is that I try not to touch my hair except when I’m washing or styling. I have a habit of playing with my hair sometimes and notice that if I do that a lot, it gets frizzier.

  10. What are these number/letter combinations people are using for hair designations? I am not familiar with that system, but it sounds useful?

    • Curly Lady :

      Here’s a website with actual pics of each curl type:

  11. Anonymous :

    I am a wavy, tending to curly and I find my hair frizzes way less now that I have stopped dyeing it.

    I am totally amazed actually, it air dries very nicely now. I just wash twice a week with a very small amount of shampoo and condition well with drugstore (silicone free) conditioner.

  12. My life changed when I went to a hair-cutter who herself has curly hair and who cut and styled my hair so that it would look good curly. The products I use barely matter — I wash it once a week or less, use the conditioner at the gym and leave it in all the time and my hair looks good. Its all because of a decent cut. I feel like embracing my curly hair in my professional world is my act of resistance. And I don’t have to spend too much time or money on it.

  13. I’m convinced that curly hair being dryer is a myth, or at least that its not true across the board. I think curly hair tends to be more damaged, which makes it dryer. I consistently (every 4 or so months) got keratin treatments for a couple years. During those years I barely touched my hair ie very very rarely heat styled, almost no product. It was ideal wash and go hair for a long time. I decided to stop getting keratin because my hair started to become very lanky and almost uncontrollably greasy. Its now been about 1.5 years since my last keratin treatment.

    After not touching it for 2 years my hair was in really good condition. Whereas I used to have an involved routine for my curls including leave-in conditioners, oil, mousse, diffuser blow dry etc etc now I air dry and use just a tiny amount of product to tame frizz. And I mean a tiny amount, maybe pea sized. However, my hair still tends toward grease, and my 2nd day hair involves dry shampoo and a pony tail.

    My take away is that I was damaging my hair with my routine, which made it dry, which made me use more product in my routine. Once I gave my hair a chance to recover it became much more manageable.

  14. I have thick, curly hair that frizzes easily. I have no choice but to straighten it in the winter. My hair takes forever to air dry and I can’t go outside with wet hair in the cold weather. I wish it was different – straightening is such a process and dries out my hair – but I feel I have no choice.

    I agree with everyone that the cut is essential. A good hair cut makes all the difference. Until I found someone who knew how to cut my hair, I hated wearing my hair curly. Now I actually prefer it and wish I could wear it that way year round.

  15. A good cut is definitely key. I have banana curly hair (mostly 3a/3b). I have had excellent and bad Devacurl cuts from DC area salons. So, if your first Devacurl cut does not work for you, try another salon.

    The current person cutting my hair, Mimi, has helped me improve how I care for my hair and does a great job. I use a sulfate free shampoo; scrunch my hair with an old Tshirt; run my fingers through my hair rather than use a comb or brush; put a small amount of leave-in conditioner and styling cream on while scrunching; dry with a diffuser while bent over at the waist until damp; scrunch and organize the curls; let it dry a bit more and then put a bit more styling product on after doing my makeup before I leave the house. I use shampoo 2-3 times a week but get my hair wet everyday as I get horrible bedhead.

  16. I have very very thick wavy-curly hair. It’s about shoulder length. I have started to put argan oil on it, soaking wet out of the shower, and then devacurl styling product (there are several). I also use the davacurl shampoo and conditioner, it’s so amazing that sometime I dont’ even use the conditioner. (Devacurl is available at ulta) My hair comes out tangle free and soft. Then I wrap it up in a towel while I do my make-up. When that is done, I roll finger curls around my head. I do about 4-6 on each side and maybe 3 on the back. Then since it would take 5 hours for my hair to dry naturally, I diffuse it a bit. (I finally got a diffuser attachment;I don’t know why I waited so long). I don’t even dry it all the way, but at least I don’t show up for work with soaking wet hair. The diffusing part takes the longest (maybe 5-6 minutes). The diffusing and the finger curls give me some looser looking ringlets and I think the argan oil helps to cut down on the frizz. I also have a wacky cowlick on one side and use nice barrettes from to hold back one piece out of my face. I never brush my hair becuase it just makes it look wooly. I think I am finally at peace with my hair at age 46 after fighting it my whole life. I do however, with the barrette, have a bit of a “retro” look going, so I always feel ridiculous wearing athleisure type clothes. I can never just throw my hair up in a ponytail and look casual which has always been a pet peeve of mine.

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