Nine Reasons Why Your Hair Is Dry—Plus, Expert-Approved Tips That'll Help Restore Its Luster
The first step is pinpointing the problem.
Every year, beauty experts everywhere remind us of autumn and winter's inevitable ability to dry out skin. What often doesn't get as much attention, however, is just how easily the cooler seasons can dry out your hair, too. While the climate absolutely plays a role in the moisture levels of your hair, so much more influences its overall healthy and appearance.
Understanding this—and knowing that all beauty concerns are multifaceted—we asked a few hair experts to share reasons why your hair might be looking a little lackluster right now, as well as tips on how to restore its luster.
You're over-washing your hair.
When your hair feels dry, you might think that using an ultra-hydrating shampoo each and every day can remedy the situation. On the contrary, Ashley Streicher, celebrity hairstylist and R+Co Collective member, says that over-washing your hair can lead to extremely dry ends while triggering your scalp to become oily. Because of the negative effects, Streicher recommends washing your hair no more than every two days or every other day if you feel it's absolutely necessary.
This doesn't mean you can't shower every day, though. Instead, steer clear of daily shampooing and only use conditioner on your middle hair and ends on the days you're not fully washing your hair.
You're not completing your shower with a cool-water rinse.
Speaking of washing habits, celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson says a major reason many people experience dry hair is due to not knowing how to properly end a shower. While most hair experts recommend lukewarm showers, not everyone feels capable of ditching their steamy routines. With that in mind, Gibson says that the most important thing is to simply finish each and every shower with a cool rinse, as colder water closes the hair follicles which will help seal in the hair's moisture while delivering head-turning luster and shine.
You're getting older.
Just as your skin changes as you age, so does your hair. According to JOON Haircare founder Shiva Tavakoli, as we get older, our bodies naturally start to make less and less oil which means hair can become less hydrated in the process. "This is a natural part of aging," she says. "While there is no solution, many women begin taking bioidentical prescription hormones to stimulate oil production or transition to richer, more hydrating hair care products."
You're not choosing the right products for your hair type.
TIGI creative and education director, Philip Downing, touches on what Tavakoli brought up, noting that the products you use make a big difference in how hydrated your hair is. In addition to looking for solely hydrating products, he says it's important to find hydrating products for your particular hair type. "Everything from wash and care to styling and finishing [need to be tailored to your needs]," he says. "This will make sure your hair is at its maximum health."
You live in a dry environment.
The moisture levels of your hair can be influenced by the moisture levels of your environment. "Whether you endure the cold, dry, windy winters in the Northeast; the hot, sun-scorching summers of the Southwest; or frequent exposure to salty water and the sun from those of you lucky enough to live near the beach, environmental conditions impact your hair," Tavakoli says. "The same way you wouldn't go outside naked in the middle of a snowstorm, you cannot leave your hair 'naked' to the environment."
With this in mind, it's a good idea to add products into your routine based on your environment. Think: ultra-hydrating serums like JOON Haircare Saffron Hair Elixir Oil ($50, joonhaircare.com) in dry environments, hair sunscreens like R+Co Sun Catcher Power C Boosting Leave-In Conditioner ($32, dermstore.com) in sunny environments, and so on.
You have a dry scalp.
Some people are just born with dry scalps, just as some are born with dry skin. "Since your hair itself produces no oils or natural lubrication, it relies on oils made at its root to keep it moisturized," Tavakoli explains. "Since those roots are under your skin, a dry scalp can suck up the natural oils produced by the sebaceous glands, causing dry, brittle hair."
To remedy this situation, she recommends incorporating a weekly scalp scrub or clarifying treatment into your haircare routine to buff away any dry skin or hardened serum in order to allow for the scalp's sebum to reach the root, mids, and end of each strand of hair.
Your hair has been exposed to intense chemicals.
It's customary to undergo color and texture treatments in today's day and age. While these changes can help you love with your hair all over again, they can also lead to some pretty noticeable damage—namely, ultra-dry hair. "Each strand of healthy hair has a protective layer called the cuticle," Tavakoli explains. "The same way shingles on a house shield your home from rain and sun damage, the hair cuticle protects your hair from heat and sun damage. In a healthy cuticle, the layers fit tightly together to keep moisture in and the elements out." Unfortunately, many of the most popular chemical services—dye jobs, perms, and the like—strip away that protective cuticle layer. "When the cuticle layers start to separate and peel away from hair, they have a difficult time holding moisture, leaving hair feeling dry," Tavakoli explains, noting that the easiest solution is to avoid chemical treatments altogether. However, since many folks enjoy coloring, curling, and relaxing their hair, she says your next best bet is to ensure you're deeply conditioning your hair to make up for the moisture loss associated with these treatments.
You're applying too much heat to your hair.
Whether you're blow-drying, curling, crimping, or straightening your hair, it's important to always, always apply a heat protectant. What's more, Streicher says it's a good idea to try to cut heat styling out of your routine at least once a week. Instead, she says you can embrace a seriously good hair day.
And you're applying heat when hair isn't entirely dry.
When you do choose to use a hot tool in your styling routine, Gibson says it's paramount to only do so when your hair is fully dry. That's because your hair is more prone to damage and breakage while it's wet, and any moisture in your hair can cause you to accidentally fry your strands when the heat is applied.