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12 / 2023

4C Natural Hair Care Winter and Harmattan Routine

If you want to understand how to look after your natural hair during harmattan and winter, I'm here to help. My name is Joanna. I'm a hair, beauty, and lifestyle blogger based in Ghana. Continue reading for more information, and don't forget to follow my Facebook page, where I share more hair, beauty, and lifestyle tips.

Winter is coming! I bet the Game of Thrones fans can see where this is going. The Winter season for those in temperate zones will soon be here. There will be snow, and it will be cold during the winter season. The coldness also runs through the harmattan period, characterized by cold, dry winds. One thing, however, is certain.

This time of the year is not a friendly period for your hair. That is because the coldness makes your hair very dry. And if you are not intentional about caring for your hair, your hair will show signs of damage at the end of the cold season. Natural 4C hair reacts differently during summer/dry and winter/wet seasons. So, it would be prudent to protect your hair during these times.

Here are some ways you can care for your hair during the cooler periods of the year.

1. Use A Sulfate-Free or Clarifying Shampoo To Wash Your Hair

Technically, there is nothing wrong with using shampoos with sulfates as an ingredient. However, when you use a sulfate-inclusive shampoo too much, it tends to dry your hair out. That is because the sulphate cleanses the hair so much that it gives it a “too clean” feeling. As much as shampoos must clean the hair, it would be detrimental to your natural hair if your shampoo leaves your hair dry.

So during the harmattan or winter season, a sulfate-free or clarifying shampoo should be part of your products. These shampoos are best because they retain more moisture in your hair. One common sulfate-free shampoo is Shea Moisture’s Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo. A clarifying shampoo benefits people who are swimmers, use hard water, have an itchy scalp, and have very dry hair. One highly clarifying shampoo is the Alikay Naturals Moisturizing Black Soap Shampoo.

2. Once A Week Deep Conditioning Treatment

Deep conditioning treatment should be a must in your hair care routine during the winter and harmattan months. That is because this treatment retains moisture and hydrates your hair. And this is something you need within this season as the atmosphere is dry, and it will affect your hair accordingly. If you regularly do not deep condition your hair, you should not joke with it this season.

You should particularly note the difference between regular conditioners and deep conditioners. Deep conditioners have a thicker consistency and are meant to stay in your hair for some time to achieve optimum results. They mostly work well with a bit of heat, so some people go for hooded dryers or heat caps. A manual or cheap way some people apply heat to their hair is to tie a plastic bag over their hair after applying the deep conditioner.

Then they wait for some minutes before they wash it off. Here is a way to make your own moisturizing deep conditioning treatment home. However, you can get deep conditioning creams in some pharmacies and stores nearby.

3. Regular Protein Treatment

Another thing to add to your hair care regimen during the winter/harmattan season is a regular protein treatment. The hair is made up of keratin proteins. Thus, it must have the right balance of protein. Too much protein in your hair makes your hair stiff. Too little protein in your hair can also cause it to break. You must incorporate a regular protein treatment to ensure protein balance in your hair.

If you have a high manipulation routine, you must set calendar dates to apply protein treatment to your hair. However, you do not need to apply protein treatments much if you have a low-manipulation routine. Click on this link to learn how to make homemade protein treatments for your 4C hair. Certain signs will be apparent if your hair needs this treatment.

Your hair would feel strawy and will break off. The treatment reconstructs dried hair strands and brings life to your hair.

4. You Need A Moisturizing Leave-In Conditioner

Another must-have product during this dry period is a leave-in conditioner. A leave-in conditioner is necessary when your hair is drying out, but it’s not yet washing day. A leave-in conditioner adds extra moisture to your hair and brightens the appearance of your hair. Read this article to find the best leave-in conditioner for your hair.

5. Do A Conditioner Wash When Your Hair Feels Dry

Conditioner washing, known as co-wash, uses a conditioner to wash your hair. This method is also known as the “no poo” or no shampoo method. Co-washing is a better option when you want to wash and moisturize your hair without stripping all the products in your hair. It is common knowledge that shampoos cleanse the hair of impurities, products, and pollution.

A co-wash, however, washes the hair without removing everything from the hair. So, it is acceptable to wash your hair with only conditioner. Due to this, hair brands are producing co-washing conditioners with cleansing agents to achieve clean hair without stripping the necessary oils in the hair. So, during the winter/harmattan period, you can do a conditioner wash when your hair feels dry. This practice is also good for naturals with extremely dry hair. Incorporate this routine; your hair will be grateful for this tender, loving care.

6. Apply Oils and Butter to Seal Moisture In Your Hair

Heavy oils like black castor oil, almond seed, grapeseed oil, etc. and butter like shea butter, when applied to the hair during these dry periods, help to seal in moisture in the hair. It minimizes the amount of moisture that seeps into the dry chilly atmosphere. However, ensure that you use a clarifying shampoo during wash day to avoid the buildup of these products, as the oil and butter can get heavy on the hair. A valuable tip to remember when applying these products is that a little goes a long way.

7. Not The Time For Wash and Go’s

Winter/Harmattan is not the time for a wash-and-go. Failing to heed this simple piece of advice can be damaging to your hair. You can rock a wash and go in the summer, which is fine. But wearing this hairstyle during dry and chilly times can dry up your hair, spoil the hairstyle, and break your hair. It would help if you kept low manipulative hairstyles like braids during this period. Keep hair manipulation at a minimum to help retain moisture.

8. Opt For Alcohol-free Gels

It is normal to naturalistas with their edges laid neatly. It is quite the trend, and we are here for it! A gel is a great product and whoever thought of it is quite the inventor. That is because it enhances our curl pattern and adds hold and shine to the hair. However, some gel products on the market are not friendly to our hair. Due to the alcohol content contained in these products, the alcohol dries out the hair and makes it flaky. That can cause hair breakage in the long term. Fortunately, you can choose from several alcohol-free hair gel products on the market.

9. Trim Your Hair

Trimming your hair is very important to your hair care and is a must in your haircare regimen. At the start of the chilly season, ensure that you trim your hair. Trimming your hair is important to your hair growth because it retains the length of your hair and keeps it healthy. It also prevents the splitting of your hair, which will keep splitting till it gets to the hair shaft. So, the longer you wait to trim your hair, the more damage will be caused to your hair. So consider trying your hair after every six weeks.

10. Stay Away From Heat Styling

Every naturalista knows that too much heat styling is not very good for the hair as it causes a lot of hair breakage. No one is saying you should not switch up your hair with a silk press or Dominican blowout once in a while. But during this chilly season, applying heat to your hair is probably not a good idea. Use the heat styling tools on your wigs instead so that you wear them to protect your hair.

11. Wear Satin Lined Hats During The Day, And Satin Bonnets/Scarfs At Night

Putting on cotton or woollen hats on your hair is detrimental to your hair. That is because cotton and wool can rub against your hair, absorb moisture and cause frizz to your hair. A satin-lined hat is more friendly for your hair. Also, get a satin bonnet/scarf to protect your hair at night. Satin reduces the chances of tangled hair when you toss and turn in your bed at night.

It also reduces the moisture in your hair from escaping. If you cover your hair with a cotton scarf or none, this situation may not be the same.

12. Change Your Routine Where Possible

The natural hair journey is all about positivity and taking the right measures to ensure your hair flourishes. If one method works for you and you see the results, it is fine to stick with it. But if it doesn’t, feel free to change it if you have to. If the routine for summer does not work out for you during the dry/winter season, change it. Do not let anyone guilt-trip into doing something that is not beneficial for your hair. Be confident about what works for you and stick with it.

13. Protective/Low Manipulation Hairstyles Is A Must

Nothing cares for your hair like protective styles or low-manipulation hairstyles during the dry/winter season. It is even better than low manipulation styles. To avoid doubt, here is the difference between these two methods: Low manipulation styling is any hairstyle that causes you not to touch the hair.

Some low-manipulation hairstyles include wash and go, pineapple updo, etc. On the other hand, a protective style hides the ends of the hair, thereby protecting it from overexposure to external elements such as friction, pollution, etc. A great example of a protective style is braids. Braids are both low manipulation and a protective style.

That is because braids do a more excellent job retaining moisture in the hair than most hairstyles.

14. Take Care Of Your Edges

It is lovely to see most naturals in fitting ponytails or buns till you realize that these buns/ponytails are costing them their edges. It is not worth it. When you put too much tension on our edges, it leads to hair loss and traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is where extreme tension is caused to your scalp (which, in this case, is your edges), which results in hair loss.

A typical symptom of alopecia is a receding hairline around the forehead, temple or nape. So, if you happen to be getting a protective hairstyle, tell your stylist not to make the braids too tight, especially around your edges. It is not that you are too bossy. It is you looking out for your hair.

15. Health Is Wealth For Your Hair.

Good food is good health. Good health means that every part of your body benefits from the good nutrients in your diet. Also, never forget to hydrate. Drinking water helps with blood circulation. That means that when there is a regular good flow of blood to the scalp, it helps to retain hair length. Therefore, target drinking 8 glasses of water each day.

The downside is that you will visit the washroom many times a day, but you will be hydrated, which is worth it. If you know you cannot tick to drinking eight glasses of water daily, try adding fresh fruits like watermelon to your diet. Again, you need to exercise. Exercise also aids with blood flow which is good for your hair and overall health.


Your hair is your responsibility, and it behooves on you to care for it. How you take care of your hair says a lot about personal branding. With all these tips, you can do no wrong when caring for your hair during the winter or harmattan season. Cheers to hair goals!

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