Dry Hair? These Tips On Moisturizing Your Hair Will Help!
Has your hair been unusually frizzy and dull, as opposed to its usual lustrous shine?
Is it failing to cooperate with your go-to styles—even the quick, messy ponytail that normally works even on bad hair days?
If so, you might have dry hair. But, how do you tell? And how do you moisturize hair when it’s suffering from a lack of moisture?
The signs of dry hair
Unfortunately, if you have dry hair, the signs will be pretty obvious.
Dry hair may look dull and feel brittle, explains Kelby Fitch, the marketing and social media manager at Virtue Salon, a sulfate-, paraben-, and animal product-free salon based in Columbus, Ohio. Your locks may also be more difficult to work with: “Some people will notice that their hair won’t hold a certain style, like curls,” she says.
Dry hair can look very similar to damaged hair, but there’s an easy way to tell these conditions apart. Take a wet strand of hair and, holding it between two fingers, gently pull on it. If it stretches but doesn’t return to its original shape, then you have dry hair. But if it won’t stretch or it breaks, it’s damaged.
The causes of dry hair
To better understand dry hair, you need to get down to the root causes.
Each hair shaft (the hair that’s visible) on your scalp is comprised of three main layers, which give it color, luster, and shape: the medulla (center), the cortex (middle layer), and the cuticle (outer layer). When the outermost layer starts to break down, hair will look and feel dry.
In general, the causes of dry hair also fall into three categories: environmental factors, hair-care routine, and medical.
Environmental, caused by:
- Dry, hot weather
- Sunlight and wind
- Swimming in pools or chlorinated water
Hair care routine, involving:
- Regular blow-drying
- Bleaching, certain types of hair dye, and other chemical treatments
- Frequent use of curling irons, straighteners, and other heat-styling tools
- Harsh ingredients, like sulfates
Medical, indicating an underlying issue:
- Hypothyroidism, when your body can’t make enough parathyroid hormones
- Hypoparathyroidism, an uncommon condition where your body produces too few parathyroid hormones, which leads to low calcium levels in the blood
- Menkes disease, a rare genetic condition where your cells don’t absorb enough copper
If your hair seems dry no matter what you do, you should make an appointment with your physician, who may refer you to a dermatologist.
How to prevent dry hair
Dry hair is certainly annoying, but it’s not unstoppable. Try the following practices and see if you notice a difference:
Shampoo less often
Don’t despair if your locks are dried out, because it’s possible to restore them to their former glory by changing your routine, starting with how often you use shampoo and conditioner. If you shampoo every day, it might be time to reconsider the frequency.
“Washing your hair less will actually benefit you,” says Fitch. “It takes some training on your end, but the benefits are great. When you wash your hair often, you are actually getting rid of those natural oils and lipids that your hair needs.”
Try cutting back to using shampoo two to three times a week. Be sure to still condition your hair every time you wash it as you would normally. “Showering with lukewarm or cold water will also help,” adds Fitch.
Protect your hair from heat
Prolonged sun exposure damages the cuticle layer of your strands, which can lead to dry, frizzy hair.
Wear a hat while you’re outside to protect your tresses and your scalp from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the finer and lighter in color the hair, the more prone to sun damage it is. You should also protect your hair from chlorinated pool water, which can make hair more vulnerable to sun damage.
Additionally, avoid the regular use of blow-dryers and heat-styling tools like curling irons and straighteners. These can cause even more damage if your hair is already dried out from sun exposure.
Ditch dirty ingredients
There are a few common ingredients in haircare products that can wind up causing dry, damaged hair. Look out for these baddies:
Cut back on haircare products made with sulfates, a type of detergent found in many cleansers that works by attracting oil and water. The problem is that sulfates can also strip the natural oil from both the hair and scalp, resulting in dryness.
Parabens are preservatives widely-used in cosmetics that are known to potentially cause hair to dry out. Plus, parabens are terrible for the environment: one study shows that parabens are polluting the oceans and accumulating in the bodies of marine mammals which can lead to sickness and death.
Another common haircare ingredient you should avoid is silicones: quartz-derived polymers that are found in a wide range of products including shampoo, conditioner, anti-frizz serums, and pre-heat treatments.
Not all silicones are created equal. There are two types of silicones used in hair products: non-cyclic and cyclic, and there are multiple kinds of silicones that fall into each of these categories. Non-cyclic is generally seen as okay to use. But, wash-off products made with certain cyclic silicones are restricted in the European Union out of concern for the environmental damage it might cause.
Cyclic silicones can also be bad for your mane. These chemicals act like a barrier, protecting hair from heat and preventing water from getting out. The problem is that silicones can also prevent moisture from getting in, which can lead to dry hair. And, cyclic silicones can build up on your hair, making the issue worse over time.
“[Cyclic silicones] can leave the hair feeling very heavy, and actually tend to dry the hair out as they never penetrate the actual hair shaft,” says Filch. “They only sit on top of the hair, hence the heavy feeling.”
How to moisturize hair
Certain products can help remedy frizzy hair woes if the problem is your haircare routine. But, products aren’t ever one-size-fits-all. If you don’t already know your hair type, figure it out first before you try anything new.
Understanding how your hair behaves and the care that it needs will help you better understand and better utilize tips on how to moisturize hair. “Someone with fine, straight hair will not want to use a heavy oil on their hair, as it will make it greasy, whereas someone with thick, textured hair may really benefit from an oil,” says Filch.
How you use a product matters, too, even if the product was developed for all hair types. Thicker, more texturized hair will always need much more product to feel healthy and moisturized compared to fine, straight hair.
Consider purchasing clean haircare products to see if they make a difference for your troubled hair!
This plastic-free shampoo bar from Superzero was designed specifically for dry hair. It uses sodium cocoyl isethionate, a cleanser derived from coconut, to create a creamy lather without using sulfates. It’s also made with avocado oil and shea butter, which moisturize and condition hair.
This partner to Superzero’s shampoo bar is free from silicones that could potentially weigh down and dry out your hair. Formulated for dry hair, it contains vegan squalane, cocoa butter, and macadamia oil esters to control frizz. Like the shampoo bar, it comes packaged in a recycled cardboard carton instead of a plastc bottle—so it’s good for your hair and the environment!
Made for curly hair in need of deep nourishment, this pre-conditioner treatment from the brand Naturally Drenched makes use of papaya fruit extract, which helps to nourish and protect the hair, as well as sweet almond oil to soften and protect dry locks.
Dry hair will appreciate a little extra TLC like this elixir by Earth Harbor, which is designed to take on dull, dry hair. It contains moisturizing jojoba seed oil and vitamin E, plus seaweed extract to hydrate and add shine. It also helps sooth dry, itchy scalps.
Once you’ve treated your dry hair, use this guava-infused spray by Ceremonia to help protect it from the heat and sun. According to the brand, guava helps guard your locks from UV rays while avocado oil helps to protect it from damage caused by heat-styling tools.
Kat Smith is a New York City-based writer and editor who loves digging deep into sustainable fashion, beauty, food, and other lifestyle-related topics.
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (‘D4’) and decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (‘D5’) | Official Journal of the European Union
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