The natural oils (sebum) in the outer layer (cuticle) of the hair helps protect the moisture in the inner layers (medulla and cortex). They also reflect light, making your hair look glossy and shiny.
Over time, sebum may be stripped from the hair, which can result in a loss of luster and sheen. This can make it look unhealthy, dull, and frizzy.
Inefficient scalp oil production
Hair relies on sebum production to keep it moisturized and looking effortlessly lustrous. Your hair may appear dry when it is unable to absorb or retain sebum.
The cuticle is the protective layer that coats each strand of healthy hair, shielding it from heat and sun damage. In a healthy cuticle, the layers lock moisture in by stacking tightly together. When a cuticle layer separate and peel away from hair, its ability to retain moisture is compromised, allowing the sebum to escape.
Playing outdoors can expose your hair to too much sun, chlorine, saltwater, wind, harsh, or dry air – all of which can strip your hair of precious moisture.
Overwashing and under conditioning
Shampooing too often can strip away your hair sebum – try skipping at least one day between hair washes. On the contrary, you really can’t use too much conditioner.
Too many chemical treatments and heat styling
Chemical hair treatments – such as hair color, relaxers, perms, and chemical smoothers – can all strip hair of sebum. This changes the hair texture, leaving it stiff and dry. Hence, go easy on the chemical treatments with at least six weeks in between each session.
Likewise, regularly blow-drying your hair, and using heated curling irons or straighteners can dry the hair. Thermal abuse can strip hair from their natural moisture, especially when the tool comes into direct contact with dry hair.
Underlying health condition
In some cases, dry hair may result from an underlying health problem that causes dry hair.
Anorexia nervosa is a form of eating disorder that can cause hair to become brittle and dry due to malnutrition.
With hypothyroidism, the thyroid glands produce insufficient thyroid hormones. Brittle and dry hair is one of the earliest symptoms of hypothyroidism.
With hypoparathyroidism, the parathyroid gland produces insufficient parathyroid hormone, which decreases the level of calcium in the blood. Calcium is a crucial nutrient for healthy hair, and therefore calcium deficiency can lead to dry hair.
Menkes syndrome is the impairment of copper absorption in the body. As a result, your hair can become dry and kinky.
Home remedies for dry hair
Here are our top secrets for keeping your hair soft and supple with simple lifestyle changes.
Wash only when needed
Avoid shampooing your hair every day. Frequent shampooing can deplete your hair of its protective sebum and moisture. Instead, wash your hair once or twice per week. An exception is if you frequently exercise – in this case, you may wash your hair after each workout session.
If your scalp gets too oily or your hair becomes flat, you can touch up your hair roots with a dry shampoo to absorb excess oil without stripping away moisture.
Try lukewarm shower
Don’t wash your hair with hot water as it can cause further damage to dull, dry hair. Opt for lukewarm or cold water instead as it can rinse out the excess hair product and sebum without stripping moisture.
Deep conditioning with coconut oil
Deep condition your hair with warmed coconut oil weekly. Coconut oil stays in your hair long enough to penetrate the strands, packing your hair with the nutrients and moisture to thrive. By soothing your hair strand-by-strand, coconut oil improves your hair appearance overall.
Place equal portions of coconut oil and olive oil in a bowl, then warm the oil mixture to a comfortable temperature. Massage the oil mixture through your hair ends and then comb your hair to distribute the oil evenly, focusing on the ends and the root of your hair. Leave the oil conditioner in your hair for 30 minutes before rinsing off thoroughly in cold water.
Use hair-friendly oils
Like coconut oil, other hair-friendly oils can also replenish hair moisture naturally. This includes jojoba oil, argan oil, and olive oil. These oils are rich in antioxidants and vitamin E and can form a barrier to prevent water from escaping the hair cuticle, thus repairing the damage. This treatment will add shine to dry hair.
Use moisturizing hair care products
If you wash your hair regularly, use a shampoo designed specifically for dry hair. Look for a shampoo that is gentle, sulfate-free, and alcohol-free. It cleanses the hair without stripping it of sebum.
Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner, which softens and moisturizes the hair. Massage the conditioner gently through the hair, then wait for five minutes before rinsing off.
Dry your hair gently and use a silk pillowcase
Wrap your hair with a microfiber hair towel instead of air-drying or blow-drying. It can prevent the hair from becoming brittle and difficult to style.
Also, use a silk pillowcase if you sleep with your hair wait. It could help keep your hair’s moisture from getting absorbed into the pillows.
Harsh combing can pull your hair excessively and damaging it in the process. Instead, Comb hair before getting in the shower as its more challenging to detangle wet hair without pulling. Start at the bottom of your hair and gently work your way up to the scalp.
Protect from harsh weather conditions
Protect your hair from extensive exposure to the sun or dry air by wearing a hat or scarf over your hair. You should also waterproof your hair with hair-friendly oils and swim cap while swimming in a pool or sea.
If you are using a home heating system indoors, you can use a humidifier to infuse moisture back into the air to prevent your hair from becoming dry and damaged.
Go easy on heat styling
Avoid heating tools such as blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, and electric rollers. Prolonged direct heat can create bubbles in your hair cuticle, causing it to become brittle and break off. You can buy time between heat styling by using dry shampoo instead.
If you must use heat styling, limit it to once a week, and apply a heat-protectant spray beforehand — the heat protectant act as a buffer between the hair strand and the heat of thermal tools. Let the hair air dry for a while before using the thermal tool. Dial down the heat of the thermal device to the lowest setting. Also, consider using ionic thermal tools because it can inject the hair with negative ions, allowing water molecules to penetrate deep into the hair to rehydrate it.
Avoid certain hairstyles
Prolonged use of some hair accessories, such as elastic bands, can cause a constant tightening and pulling action that damage the hair cuticle. Wear your hair down if possible, and when you wear your hair back, secure it with a fabric hair tie.
Get a trim
If your hair is too dry, it might be time for a fresh cut. Trim away the split ends and single strand knots to allow your hair to grow and retain moisture over time. Have your hair trimmed at least once every six to eight weeks, even if you are growing your hair out.
Make dietary changes
Take food or supplements that are rich in omega-3s, vitamin A, vitamin C, and biotin. You can also consider marine protein supplements. These nutrients can make hair look healthier and shinier.
The Bottom Line
Dry hair is a sign of hair damage. If untreated, the hair can become brittle, causing it to fray or break easily. Restore the sheen and luster to your hair by making simple lifestyle changes.