The Wash n' Go and your tresses were beautiful together this summer.
You saved time, your hair gained moisture, styleability and maybe even some length.
But now, as the days get shorter, and the temperature and humidity take a dip, it's time to look elsewhere for a styling method that will do your hair some good.
Why The Wash 'n' Go Doesn't Work In Autumn
While in meteorological terms, the British autumn began on the first of September, the stretch of the long Indian summer into these months left us hesitant to hand out autumn hair advice while your tresses were still soaking up the last days of a summer-long heatwave.
Now that the warm weather seems truly behind us, it's time to wave goodbye to a haircare technique that's perfect for humid summer months, but turns out to be a bad match of method, products and conditions when it comes to cooler autumn weather.
Humectant Products And Low Humidity: A Bad Mix
Humectant products – the water-loving ones that gave you those fat, juicy curls and kept them hydrated all summer long – don’t work so good in the colder seasons. Why? Humectants moisturise by attracting moisture, from the sultry summer air, and, more often, from the water in the product itself. They work perfectly in humid, balmy weather, provided your hair isn't overly porous.
When they're in your hair and the conditions are right, your hair gets all the benefits of having humectants around. When the humidity in the air around drops, however, these same ingredients betray your hair by sucking much-needed moisture from your strands to offer it up to the surrounding air. Such treachery leaves your hair dried out and prone to snapping.
What's more, the curl-popping that comes when humectant products get filled with water and share the wealth with your hair doesn't happen in the colder seasons.
Using them in this weather means your hair's moisture levels are compromised, with less water available all around, making your hair less inclined to define. Plus, the slight hold that these products bring in warmer, wetter weather is almost non-existent when both the dewpoint and humidity drop. Combined, these factors cause clumped curls to fall apart easily when styled or moisturised with humectants.
Autumn Weather Means Longer Drying Time For Curls
Wash 'n' gos work so well in summer because they're so convenient. You wash your hair, quickly work through a product, shake, and go. The warm air does all the drying for you. Waiting for your hair to do the same in colder weather is a different story.
Your hair can stay wet for hours, or even days, if you attempt a wash 'n' go, especially if you use a styler or leave in that's high in humectants.
Not only is this longlasting wetness uncomfortable, it can actually damage your hair. In this type of weather, it's especially important to avoid styling, and even conditioning methods that leave your hair wet for extended periods of time.
The Wash 'n' Go Can Break Your Hair In Cold Weather
Too much moisture can break your hair. Watering your hair daily can weaken it as the constant wetting and drying cycle causes the hair to overexpand, leaving tiny fissures along the hair shaft.
In more humid weather, the difference in moisture levels is not as great so the hair does not dry as dramatically, keeping damage to a minimum. In cooler, drier months – with the added effects of central heating – the difference between wet and dry is very stark indeed, and that contrast can be extremely harsh on your hair.
What To Do Differently With Your Hair This Autumn
Keeping your hair moisturised in autumn means instead of trying to attract moisture, or replace it on a daily basis, you focus on locking it in. Layer your products to trap as much hydration as possible, but make sure your hair is not left wet for hours on end.
And remember: the best autumn products are often the opposite of the best summer ones: heavy butters and thick, rich leave ins, as opposed to humectant-rich gels and light watery leave ins, are the best choice for colder, drier months.
The ease and simplicity of the wash 'n' go lifestyle is hard to let go of, but the results are hard to replicate in autumnal weather. To hold onto the progress your hair has made so far this year, put your wash 'n' go on ice until summer weather rears its head again.
Mike Bitsnhofer| P. Taylor Images | Chaitra Gothra