A Guide to Dry Hair
Untangle the Truth Behind Dryness
Here’s the not-so-great truth about dryness: it can occur for as many reasons as there are strands of hair on your head. Okay, not 100% accurate, but there are a lot of potential causes, it’s just about knowing what to look for. There are tell-tale signs, and common bad habits, that when identified can help you diagnose why your tresses are thirsty. Our guide below will help you navigate all things dryness and give you insight on how to quench your parched locks for good!
First, how can you tell if your hair is dry?
Dryness can take shape in multiple ways, the most common being:
- Frizziness. Your hair looks frizzy because it’s seeking out hydration from the air around it.
- Split ends, breakage, or knotty strands. If your hair is easily breaking or knotting up, that’s likely a sign that it’s too dry.
- Dullness. Generally speaking, shiny, glossy, and lustrous locks stem from healthy, hydrated hair.
- Static. Different from frizz, when your hair and environment are both dry simultaneously it causes hair to naturally become statically charged. If your texture stands on edge of its own accord, it’s likely due to dryness.
- Limp natural pattern. While it can be due to multiple causes, sometimes hair that’s struggling to maintain it’s natural pattern (especially with wavies, curlies, and coilies) is falling short because of a lack of hydration.
Any of these ring a bell? Maybe you’ve even experienced multiple of these at once, but the question is, why?
What are some potential causes (and solutions) of dry hair?
The easiest way to understand why your hair is dry—and what to do about it—is knowing the source. We’ve simplified things by grouping the main causes of dryness into four categories: texture, products, routine, and environment.
The closer your hair pattern is to the kinky texture end of the spectrum, the more common it is for it to be naturally dry, Wavy, curly, and kinky textures, due to their pattern, are more susceptible to the loss of hydration. That being said, it varies from texture to texture as strand thickness also plays a role. For instance, fine strands are susceptible to dryness as they are incredibly delicate and can become damaged easily. If you don’t use heat styling, process your hair, or live in a dry climate, and your hair is still dry, there’s a good chance your hair is naturally dry. But don’t worry! All that means is your hair needs a little extra love, especially with the products you choose.
Regardless of why your hair is naturally dry, using hydrating products that nourish your hair from beginning to end will infuse your texture with new life. A hydrating routine doesn’t have to be complicated though.
Here is a simple routine for any texture looking to focus on hydration:
Styles that protect
For kinky textures in particular, especially because they tend to be dry, utilizing the benefits of protective styling can help your hair retain hydration. They naturally combat environmental stressors that diminish your hair’s health making them a versatile option for safe-guarding your delicate tendrils.
Say no to sulfates
Especially for curly or kinky textures, avoiding harsh suds and sulfates is a must. Products that suds up tend to (though not always) have sulfates which strip your hair of its natural oils which leads to strands breaking down and becoming susceptible to dryness. Booting harsh shampoos from your routine to replace them with Aloe-grapefruit Purifying Shampoo (a sulfate-free, gently sudsing shampoo), or No Suds Cleansing Cream can help rebalance your scalp and hair for a newly hydrating foundation.
Layering products correctly
Knowing when to apply products in your routine is equally as important as having a routine filled with hydrating products. Layering products correctly helps lock in hydration for long-lasting results. A good rule of thumb is after conditioning to layer products from thinnest to thickest with oils or oil-based products pulling up the rear to act as the ultimate sealant.
Here’s an example for kinky textures:
First, if you don’t know what a wash-n-go is, it’s one of the most popular ways to keep your hair hydrated. It’s the process of adding your styling routine into your shower routine because it minimizes the loss of hydration (and adds definition to your natural pattern!) that comes from waiting to apply your styling products post-shower when your hair has already begun to dry. The benefits your texture gets from products is best absorbed while your hair is still wet, so applying them while in the shower only makes sense.
Sounds great, right? Well like with any routine, frequent wash-n-go’s take consistency to see their full, positive effect. For best results, avoid stretching your wash-n-go beyond a maximum of two days. When you go longer, your hair begins to seek out hydration from the air because it’s no longer pulling from your layered routine. This can lead to frizziness, breakage, and general dryness.
Co-washing—all day, every day
A life-saver for staving off dryness and frizziness, especially for naturally dry textures, is to co-wash. On your non-wash or cleansing days, rinse your hair with water and massage conditioner (we recommend Quench Ultra Rich Conditioner) into your scalp and hair. After a few minutes, rinse like normal. This will help break up any dirt or product residue that’s built up in between wash days while hydrating at the same time. For curly or kinky textures, this process is a must. If you’re not co-washing, you’re doing your hair a disservice, which is part of why it may be dry.
A hot style doesn’t have to use heat
It’s a no brainer—frequently heating your hair up, especially with excessive high temperatures, or without a nourishing routine and heat protectant, will damage it, leading to dry and prone-to-breakage strands. Avoid that with the following:
Protecting your hair against heat damage begins with a consistent, hydrating hair care routine. Frequent co-washing and wash-n-go’s will hydrate and moisturize, giving your hair the ability to build its own barrier against heat and minimize damage from straight styling. If you use heat frequently, however, we also recommend adding a heat protectant into the mix to help fortify your hair’s barrier against damage. A lightweight heat protectant, such as Blow It All Out, or Nourishment Leave-in Moisturizer will simultaneously strengthen your locks while shielding them from the negative effects of heat and humidity.
Minimizing your blow-dryer usage to 1-2x a week, and going natural more frequently, will keep your texture happy and hydrated.
A portable hooded dryer is a safe way of speeding up your drying process without putting extra strain on your locks. You can find them at an affordable price on Amazon too!
Processed hair be aware
Processing your hair, whether it be to change its natural color or natural pattern, is exciting. It’s a fun way to switch up your appearance and can make you feel like a completely new person. Sadly, dying or relaxing your hair takes a toll if you’re not careful and can cause your texture to become dry or brittle. Consider these ways to maintain healthy hair:
Make the move to natural
Choosing to embrace your natural texture and skip processing your hair altogether can be incredibly empowering. Your texture is beautiful and making the move to be 100% natural can help bring new life back into your hair. If you choose to go natural, a hydrating hair care routine is vital and sometimes the big chop is necessary for a clean slate.
Minimize how often you chemically treat your hair
For relaxers, silk presses, or blow outs, instead of every two weeks, try once a month and begin to explore your natural hair more.
Dying your hair
If you frequently dye your hair, or bleach it, consider repairing, maintaining, and stretching your color by using a color-depositing conditioner. Color-depositing conditioners are trending right now, so finding highly-pigmented, moisturizing conditioners that are vegan and cruelty-free is easily attainable for our eco-conscious friends!
Cut it. Cut it. Cut it.
After a certain point, cutting off the damaged ends is the only way to sustain lasting, healthy, and rapid hair growth. While your routine plays a big part in maintenance, it’s important to keep up with your cuts and trims so your hair stays fresh. The longer you go—beyond the 3-4 month mark—the more damaged or dry your hair may be which means, more to cut off. If you’re getting a lot of knots, breakage, or split ends, this is a clear indicator that the best solution is a cut, or a new cut that accentuates your texture. If you find that your pattern is limp and dry, talking to your stylist on ways to revive it with a cut is sometimes the simplest solution.
Or at least begin using a microfiber towel. Cotton towels are rough on your delicate strands and can cause needless friction. When you get out of the shower, try wrapping your head in a microfiber towel or setting your hair while in the shower so when you get out you can squeeze excessive water out and let it air dry.
Some states have a high mineral content in their water which can be harsh on your hair and cause dryness. If you live in a state with moderate to hard water, consider getting a shower head that comes with a filter.
Constantly washing your hair with super hot water is similar to styling with heat. Be gentle with your hair while in the shower and use lukewarm to cool water so the heat doesn’t dry out your hair post-shower.
Climate changes things
Where you live, and its climate, affects your hair’s overall health. High temperatures, excess pollution, and areas or seasons lacking humidity can trigger dryness for your hair. Consider how to balance and adjust your routine for these factors.
- For pollution: try using a purifying shampoo once a week to once a month (depending on your texture) to clear buildup from air pollutants that could be weighing your hair down.
- For dry seasons: incorporate highly emollient and hydrating products seasonally that will help your hair retain moisture. Avoid products with a high content of glycerin as glycerin pulls moisture from the air and when the air is dry it actually causes dryness in your hair.
- For hot temperatures: high heat can be very drying, so if you’re experiencing hot temperatures during the summer, layer products that are light and hydrating, such as Nourishment Leave-in Moisturizer with Hydrating Finishing Balm or your preferred oil, to get maximum hydration without weighing down hair.
Still have questions? No problem! Parched locks can take time to understand. If you need more guidance, we’re here for you! Visit our Hair Salon NY or Hair Rules Studio LA to work one-on-one with a stylist for a solution.