Have I ever told you of a certain winter when my hair broke so much around the crown of my head as if someone had cut it off? I mean all my hair broke and if it was not my crown that was affected, you could have thought it was an intended hairstyle. What kind of a hairstyle has short hair on the crown and longer hair around the perimeter of the head including the nape? Looked more like female pattern balding due to age and then, I was only 18. So, would definitely not fit that diagnosis. Anyway, lessons learnt.
I realised there and then that the products I was using had caused hair loss or breakage where my hair is the weakest and for me, has always been my crown. As much as I had been using this product throughout all summer, winter had other rules I learnt. And to keep hair on my head, these rules I dare not disregard. When nature rules, there’s no getting your own way. Obey.
The offending product had been glycerin. Oh I love glycerin in summer and how it makes my hair bulkier and soft to the feel. In winter though, glycerin may actually break your hair. Hear me out.
Why glycerin is not good for dry winter months.
Glycerine also known as glycerol is a humectant and one of the most potent humectants out there. What that means is that, it draws water to itself like a magnet. So, during wet summer months, it draws water from the atmosphere to your hair. That is very good for the hair if you don’t mind the shrinkage. But, when winter comes, and our winters are usually very dry clear sky and very cold kind of winters, it still draws water to itself.
The difference though is, there’s not much moisture in the atmosphere and the only moisture it can draw from is on your hair. The feeling on your hair does not change much though. What happens is this, glycerin applied to your hair will draw moisture from the core of your hair to the surface of your hair and give you a feeling of moisturised hair while the core of your hair is dry and weak. If the core is not in good shape, good luck keeping it on your head. Indeed. Breakage is inevitable.
So, never apply glycerin on your hair in winter. If your fav hair product has glycerin as a second or third ingredient listed, there are high chances there is a lot of glycerin in it, unless it is a very light spray. You can either stop using your product for a while or mix it with another product that does not have a humectant in it. This will dilute the strength of the glycerin and your hair should be fine.
Why you should avoid Coconut oil for your hair in winter
Coconut oil is another culprit and that includes its derivatives like Monoi oil. Very good in summer, not the very best in winter. However, coconut oil is mainly on the aesthetics of the hair and also the feel. It does not really affect the benefits to your hair which are many. As you may know, coconut oil solidifies in winter and is liquid in warmer weather. So, when applied to the hair and the weather is cooler, it also solidifies, on your hair. The effect is stiff hair that feels like straw. That’s doesn’t feel good, right? Indeed. While the stiffness alone may not cause breakage, not moisturising well and often enough and, over manipulating the hair may lead to breakage.
Using coconut oil in excess should still be avoided. However, as an ingredient in a hair product, that should be okay as long as it is on about 5% of the whole product. That means, for a 1kg of whipped Shea butter for example, only 50g should be coconut oil and 950g can be made up of the Shea butter and any other oils or butters you may want to add.
So, for both humectants and coconut oil, applying them directly to your hair this winter is a no no. However, as an ingredient in a hair product, make sure it is not high up on the list of ingredients. If you are a DIY kind of a person, add both coconut oil and glycerin in moderation. About 1% for glycerin and 5% for coconut oil.
I hope this helps. As usual, the conversation continues in the comments. So, let me know what you think. Should we avoid these ingredients completely or use them in moderation? What other ingredients are better left for wet summer months?