woman curly hair wearing hoodie

Pro advice to help you care for your curls this winter. Photo: Getty

If harsh winter months have your curly hair spiraling out of control, you're not alone. Cold winter air and high indoor heat is very drying to our locks. And when you have a curly texture (naturally dry to begin with), you can wind up with a season of frizz that's enough to make you keep your winter hat on indoors.

But in reality, frizz is just a beautiful curl waiting to happen -- even in the coldest and driest climates. It just takes a little know-how to become a master of your wavy mane.

According to Lorraine Massey, author of "Curly Girl: The Handbook" and the founder and co-owner of Devachan, a chain of salons specializing in curly hair, many women just don't know how to care for their curls so they look their best every day -- regardless of the weather. "They keep doing things to their hair to make it look better, but actually, curly hair is more about what you don't do," she said, namely brushing it and touching it.

When taming your wintry curls, Massey noted that it's important to understand that not all curls are the same. Just like your hair's texture, color, length or thickness, curls are in a league all their own. For instance, there are corkscrew curls (lots of small spirals that appear thickly textured when you look at them all together, but they're actually baby fine and delicate when you look at a single strand), Botticelli curls (looser soft S-shapes combined with tight curls with a ropier appearance), "corkicelli" curls (varying curl patterns including tight curls around the face and nape of the neck while rest of hair is much looser, or vice versa) and a host of others.

Each type of curl is unique, and when they are properly cared for, they have tons of gorgeous potential. "Beauty is in the eye of the curl holder," said Massey.

Here are Massey's top six tips on caring for your wintry curls:

1. Condition, condition, condition. This is important all year round but especially in the winter, when hair can be very dry. Once curly hair fibers are sufficiently hydrated with conditioner, they will hold onto the moisture they need, and the frizz will go away! Curly hair is porous, but the conditioner fills the holes like Spackle on walls and smoothes the surface so that light can reflect off it. Leave some or all of your conditioner in your hair rather than rinsing. Generally, the tighter or dryer the curl, the more conditioner you need.

2. Use sulfate-free cleansers or shampoos. Traditional shampoos contain harsh detergents (called sulfates) and foaming agents that strip curly hair of its natural oils, causing frizz.

3. Don't use a brush and comb (even those that claim to be made for curls). The act of brushing or combing the hair actually interferes with your curl's natural formation and causes dispersed curls -- otherwise known as frizz! Use your fingers to comb through the hair only when it's wet and drenched with conditioner in the shower.

4. Don't use a conventional towel on curly locks. A terry-cloth towel will absorb too much moisture and its harsh fabric will ruffle the hair's cuticle causing frizz. Instead, blot hair with a paper towel, cotton T-shirt, microfiber towel, old pillowcase or burp cloth. These are smooth and absorbent and won't cause frizz.

5. Apply gel to wet curls. Make sure it's alcohol and silicone-free to give definitive hold without leaving curls crunchy. Gel helps hold the natural curl formation until hair dries, protecting it from outside elements like wind and humidity.

6. Don't touch your hair while it's drying. Again, this interferes with the curl's natural formation, causing frizz.

If you're a do-it-yourself type of gal, Massey recommends these simple homemade treatments for your curly tresses:

Lavender-It-With-Love Spray
Fill a large pot with 2 quarts of water. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for one hour to get rid of impurities. Remove the water from the heat, add 5 drops of pure (not synthetic) lavender essential oil, stir to blend and replace the lid. Let the lavender water steep until cool, then pour into spray bottles. Store in a cool place. Use it to cleanse and deodorize the hair and scalp and to refresh tired curls throughout the day.

Wrapunzel
Put one ripe, peeled and cored avocado in a blender with 3 to 4 teaspoons of honey or agave syrup and 8 to 10 drops olive oil or jojoba oil. Blend briefly until combined. Apply the avocado mixture to your wet hair, especially targeting the ends. Wrap your hair with clear plastic wrap or a towel, making a turban. Leave on for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse your hair thoroughly, cleanse and/or condition, then style.

Super Natural Nutrient Rinse
This ancient remedy originally from Japan uses the nutrient-rich water that's left over from making pasta, rice, potatoes, quinoa or soybeans to add extra shine and body without stripping the hair of its own oils.

1. Fill cheesecloth, a burlap bag or any perforated bag with rice, pasta, potatoes, quinoa or soy beans and tie it shut. (Grated ginger can also be added to the mix.)
2. Place bag in a pot and add enough spring or tap water to cover.
3. Bring to boil and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Let cool and remove bag from the pot. The infused water feels slightly thicker than it was to begin with.
5. Add ginger or a drop of orange blossom edible flower essence or your fragrant choice.
6. Use it as a precleansing rinse by pouring it over your hair before you cleanse, massaging it into the scalp and rinsing. Or pour it through hair after rinsing your sulfate-free cleanser, leave it on for a couple of minutes and rinse with regular water before applying your conditioner. Store your nutrient water in the fridge for up to a week.

Massey's final winter tip? Take care when wearing hats.

Winter hats can flatten hair at the roots. The best way to avoid this is to put a few clips or bobby pins in at the roots of the hair before putting on your hat. Just put some alcohol-free, silicone-free gel on the clip or bobby pin and then place the clip or pin at the roots of the hair. This will keep the roots elevated while the weight of your hat is pressing down on them. When you uncover your hair, gently remove the clips by holding the piece of hair in one hand and the clip or pin in the other and slide it out. Resist the urge to fluff your hair up. Instead, spritz hands with lavender spray or wet your hands slightly under a running tap and place damp fingers at the roots. Tilt your head over and gently shuffle your fingertips to open the hair. Lift your hands off the scalp without running your fingers through your hair. Then scrunch the hair upward gently.

Want more curly hair basics? Check out these styling tips!