- There’s little scientific evidence directly linking going out in cold weather with wet hair and catching a cold.
- However, it could cause havoc with your hair.
- A top hairdresser tells INSIDER why you should always dry your hair before going outside during the wintry months.
It’s a familiar refrain: “Don’t go outside with wet hair – you’ll catch a cold.”
As children, many of us were told over and over again by our parents, grandparents, and teachers that after going swimming or washing our hair, we shouldn’t go out in the cold before drying our hair properly, lest we get ill.
There’s little research suggesting there’s any truth in the old wives’ tale, with most studies on the matter delivering inconclusive results, or not looking at the link between wet hair and illness directly.
Still, true or not, there’s one reason entirely unrelated to health for why you shouldn’t go out into the cold with wet locks: your hair will suffer.
On wintry days, there’s greater risk of damage to the hair when you go outside before drying it. This is because the strands of your hair are more vulnerable when wet, and in the cold weather, water molecules in the hair can expand, which can make the hair more likely to break.
“Usually you hear hairdressers saying that you should leave your hair to dry naturally as often as possible, but in the winter, the opposite is true,” explains top hairdresser Jason Collier, whose clients include Victoria Beckham, Sienna Miller, and Eva Longoria.
“Cold weather can exacerbate hair breakage in wet hair, causing strands to snap off,” he tells INSIDER. “The water penetrates the hair shaft, and if that water comes down to freezing temperature, it expands in volume, forcing the hair shaft to expand, lifting the cuticles and leaving the hair exposed to environmental damage.
“It also stiffens the hair strand, which then makes it far easier for the hair to snap and break, leaving you with uneven, split ends all over the head – which, in the worst case scenario, means needing to get your hair cut shorter to even out the difference.”
Protecting your hair from the cold weather
During the colder months of the year, try and avoid washing your hair when you don’t have time to dry it.
“Either do it before bed, or get up an hour earlier, there’s no excuse,” Collier advises.
You can also add extra products to your haircare regime to help protect the hair against environmental damage – Collier recommends deep-penetrating hair masks and nourishing hair oils, as well as heat-protecting sprays every time you style the hair using hot tools.
“Wash your hair no more than twice a week if you can manage it, reducing the impact that your hairdryer has on the hair,” he advises.
“But before you step out of the door, make sure hair is properly dried to prevent any additional damage.”