How to Take Care of Your Natural Hair When You Have Seasonal Depression

How to Take Care of Your Natural Hair When You Have Seasonal Depression

As we approach the winter holidays, many of us begin to feel the effects of seasonal depression (and for some, regular depression.) The shortened days followed by longer nights and frigid temperatures can make the world feel dreary. Those who work or go to school may not see the sun at all during their free time, making it feel as if they are living in shades of grey surrounded by the dark night sky. It's natural for our environment to impact our emotions.

Think of how good you feel when you vacation somewhere sunny during the winter. The warmth and blue skies improve your food and often create a sense of peace and relaxation. In the winter, the cold temperatures can make you feel lethargic, sad, or even hopeless. That, paired with the difficulties that some may face during holiday seasons, can make life increasingly difficult to work through. It can affect different aspects of your life, including your natural hair care regimen.

When we're feeling down it's easy to our self-care routines take a back seat. In many cases, it's necessary. If you're just focused on making it through the day every day, you should make all the adjustments to your routine that you need. Having a lack of energy and motivation to take care of ourselves in the winter is a normal struggle to have. But for some, we are then faced with another problem. We don't have the energy to maintain our normal routine but we don't want to lose the progress we've made on our hair. All hair, curly or not, can be significantly impacted by delayed maintenance. It can lead to dry, brittle, and damaged hair if it goes on too long.

Common Ways Seasonal Depression Affects Your Hair Routine

Skipped wash days. Your wash day (or as we call it, wash hour) is often skipped or rain-checked for another day. Some days are more emotionally draining or exhausting than others. The last thing you want to do in your free time is wash your hair—especially if you haven't simplified your regimen. If it takes you 4-8 hours to wash, detangle, and style your hair it feels like a huge commitment.

Tangles and knots. If you're wearing your hair in the same style for weeks at a time will cause tangles and knots eventually. If you're wearing a loose style like twists, you may start to get knots at the roots or ends of your hair. Depending on the texture, some of your hair may start to come out of your style and begin to tangle into nearby twists. The hair you've naturally shed may also tangle. The main concern is that you may end up yanking and tugging on your hair when it's time to detangle. Another concern is that your hair may become matted or begin to loc up.

Dealing with Dry Hair. Colder air in the winter can suck the moisture out of our hair. The issues that arise are similar to those from skipping wash days. Dry, brittle hair is prone to breakage. If you wear hats, scarves, or sweaters made of certain materials, like wool, your hair may get caught on them. This is another way that breakage can occur, even with moisturized hair, but if your hair is already suffering from brittleness the likelihood and severity of the breakage can increase.

So, What to Do?

So, how do we manage to prioritize our mental health and our health? The answer is finding a flexible balance that works for you. This balance may not look throughout the winter. It may not even look the same from day to day. The key is to give yourself lenience and allow it to fluctuate as needed.

Suggested Solutions:

  1. Reduce the stress of cleansing your hair. Try to wash your hair whenever you have the energy and mental capacity. At minimum to maintain relative hair health, we recommend washing your hair at least once a month. If you wash your hair once a month, your hair will benefit from a clarifying shampoo, followed by a moisturizing shampoo, and a moisturizing deep conditioner. You can find products that we recommend for you hair here.

  2. Trim your hair. Getting rid of your split and frayed ends does several things. Your hair will better maintain its style, it won't tangle at the ends, and your split ends won't reach further up the hair shaft. This is a great way to maintain healthier hair, even if your regimen isn't "perfect." Removing your split ends will also make your cleansing and detangling process faster and easier.

  3. Learn how to cleanse and detangle your hair properly. This may seem like an unneeded step, but did you know you can create more problems while shampooing? Some techniques can create more tangles, knots, and excessive shrinkage. Detangling your hair incorrectly can also cause additional breakage and hair loss. Be sure to use a great detangling tool that works for your tight curls. If you want to learn how to best cleanse your hair, you can do so in our Home Hair Care Academy

  4. Wear loose styles that last. If you know you don't have the energy or capacity to style your hair every day, try wearing certain loose hairstyles. Styles such as extensionless two-strand twists, plaits, and braids are great options for irregular wash days. When done well, they can last for a few weeks at a time. To optimize your hair and scalp health along with your time, you can wash your hair in these styles. Just be sure to dry them completely with a dryer. Just remember that your hair can start to loc up if it's not regularly detangled, so try not to wear them for longer than 2-3 weeks at a time. Note: Unless your hair is completely loose (no twists, braids, etc.,) your hair and scalp cannot be fully cleansed. You still need to take your hair down and properly cleanse after these styles.

  5. Wear "protective" styles that last. You can also wear styles with extensions like knotless braids and twists. These styles can be safely worn for 6 weeks at a time. We don't recommend wearing them back-to-back if you prioritize hair health over convenience. Instead, try to wear a loose style that's mentioned above after your protective style. You can also wash your hair while wearing these styles. Note: Unless your hair is completely loose (no twists, braids, etc.,) your hair and scalp cannot be fully cleansed. You still need to take your hair down and properly cleanse after these styles.

  6. Be flexible. You may find that some weeks you have more energy than others. You can allow your regimen to reflect that. You may have it in you to wash your hair weekly once a month, and only once the next. Or you cleanse your hair and don't feel like styling it in anything other than a bun once you're finished. That's perfectly fine! Do what you can, when you can.

  7. Give yourself grace. Be kind to yourself as you navigate seasonal depression. It's not an easy time, and you should prioritize your mental health and well-being. If you miss a few wash days, life will go on. When spring and summer roll around, don't be hard on yourself if your hair's health isn't how you'd like it. You can always pick back up on your original regimen (or start a new one) when you're ready.

Remind Yourself...

It's important to acknowledge how seasonal depression can impact our hair care routine and to be kind to ourselves during this difficult time. We should strive to do what we can and remember that it's okay to make adjustments to our hair care regimen to better suit our needs. By taking care of our mental health and being flexible with our hair care routine, we can better manage seasonal depression and feel more confident in our appearance.



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