Expert-Approved Tips for Dry, Thick Hair
One surprising piece of advice? Believe it or not, you should be washing more, say our experts—not less.
Just like you use a moisturizer on your face and lotion all over your body, your hair also needs a daily dose of hydration—especially if you have dry, thick hair that's prone to breakage, frizz, and dullness. There are plenty of reasons behind dry, lackluster hair, including everything from too much sun exposure to frequent hot tool use. Regardless of the cause of the issue, there's good news: There are many ways to nurse this hair type back to health. To help you do so, we spoke to several industry experts who shared their tips for restoring dry, thick hair back to its original glory.
Ultimately, says Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a consultant trichologist at Philip Kingsley, this is one of the easier hair types to treat. "What a great problem to have!" she says of those with thick, oil-free strands. "But this really shouldn't be a problem if the correct protocols are in place." Part of that protocol, she continues, is an effective product regimen. "Products that add moisture and elasticity are key for this hair type, and should be delivered more frequently at higher concentrations," she continues. Just as essential? Caring for the part of your body that actually generates hair in the first place: your scalp. "Scalp care is essential to support your thick, luxurious head of hair," she says.
Ahead, you'll find several more ways to reinvigorate dry, thick hair. Some tips might surprise you—believe it or not, washing more (not less!) might actually be to your benefit—while others might inspire you to make key shifts in your routine (for example, consider swapping out your favorite cotton pillowcases for silk or satin options, instead or walking away from your favorite, but drying, styling mousse). Read on for more insight from our experts.
Wash more rather than less—which is likely contrary to general advice, explains Phillips. "People with this hair type can have buildup on their scalps," she notes. "It can be difficult to rinse out thoroughly, often because it is not cleansed enough."
Look for Products That Yield Slip…
There are two types of wet styling products: ones that yield slip, and ones that yield grip. "Slip products are what you need for dry, thick hair because they will give moisture, manageability, and softness to the hair," notes Leigh Hardges, a stylist at Maxine Salon. "These products are leave-in conditioners, styling creams, and various oil-or silicone-based products."
Grip products, on the other hand, give hold and increase texture—and should never be used on dehydrated hair, since they're designed for straight, thin, or fine types. "These products are gels, thickeners, and mousses, which typically contain large amounts of alcohol and make it harder for thick, dry hair to be manipulated," Hardges continues. Phillips agrees, noting to avoid products that are touted to add body, as they may even be more drying.
Care for Your Scalp
"All scalps should be cared for irrespective of density and diameter of hair," says Phillips, adding that a weekly scalp mask is critical for those with this hair type.
Watch the Heat Settings
Those with dry, thick hair can use hot tools, "but the maximum temperature should be 410 degrees Fahrenheit—and make sure you apply a heat protecting spray before," says Sunnie Brook, a Biolage brand ambassador. "Spraying a protectant will coat your strands, repair split ends, and leave thick, dry hair soft and shiny."
Get a Trim
Upgrade Your Pillowcase
Trade in your cotton pillowcase for a silk or satin iteration to combat frizz and dryness, says Lee Stafford, a celebrity hairstylist, adding that these are also great for detangling. "Cotton pillowcases suck all the moisture from your hair and skin while you sleep, so switching to silk will help keep thick hair feeling moisturized, especially in the winter months," Stafford adds.
Wear a Protective Hairstyle to Bed
Here's another bedtime tip: Beginning at the nape of your neck, arrange your hair into two long, loose braids. "The goal here is to avoid unnecessary fiber-to-fiber friction and friction between your hair and pillow. This can make the hair look frizzy and drier than it technically is," says Phillips.
Invest in Intensive Treatments
Nourish and deep condition thick, dry hair every five days, advises Phillips, who recommends one product in particular. "At Philip Kingsley, we use an award-winning deep conditioner called the Elasticizer Extreme ($99, net-a-porter.com)," she says. "It was created specifically for coarser textured hair that is thick and dry."