There are two types of people in this world. There are those whose scalps produce enough oil that they must shampoo every day to prevent limp, greasy locks. And then there are those who put off shampooing as long as possible because their hair is happiest--and looks best--on day two, three or four. If you’re among the latter—you’re a member of the dry hair crowd. Your hair tends to look dull, feel brittle, lack bounce and body, get frizzy and, if you use hair color, it fades quickly.
Why Is Your Hair Dry?
There are several reasons hair tends to be dry. It could be heredity—you come from a family with dry hair and your DNA dictates that--like Grandma and Aunt Julie--your natural oil production is on the low side. It can also be chalked up to hair structure—thick, coarse and curly hair textures generally tend to be much dryer than fine, straight hair types.
And then there are the myriad external factors that can lead to dry hair, like overexposure to UV rays, chlorine and saltwater; dryness caused by using thermal tools like blow dryers and styling irons; damage from chemical services like hair color and permanent texturizers; using shampoos or styling products that dehydrate your hair or abusing your hair with damaging combs or brushes.
The Porosity Factor
Another crucial factor to consider when you have dry hair is porosity. Porosity is the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. It’s affected by the flexible outer layer of the hair, which is called the cuticle. The cuticle controls how readily moisture and oils travel in and out of each strand. If the cuticle is healthy, it’s compact and the hair easily retains moisture. The damage begins when the cuticle becomes raised, which mainly occurs from exposure to chemicals like hair color, or with frequent use of thermal tools. Once the cuticle is raised—slightly or greatly—it’s more difficult for hair to retain the moisture it needs. The result is reduced elasticity, brittleness, dryness and increased breakage.
If your hair is porous as well as dry, look for an oil-based system like the Biolage Advanced Repair Oil Renew System that will replenish hair with moisture, reduce porosity and frizz and increase manageability and softness. Concentrated, oil-based care with healthy, lightweight oils like soybean oil, coconut oil and argan oil will transform dry, porous hair without weighing it down or causing unwanted buildup.
10 Tips for Moisturizing Your Hair and Preventing Dryness
Porous or not, there are many excellent solutions for preventing dryness and moisturizing your hair if it’s prone to dehydration. Here are 10 hair tips from the pros at Matrix for keeping your hair hydrated and lustrous.
- Choose a shampoo that’s formulated for dry hair. These formulas are generally creamy and rich and contain thirst-quenching ingredients like natural-origin coconut oil, honey and quinoa husk that replenish and cleanse gently without stripping hair of its natural oils.
- Skip the daily shampoo. If your hair is dry, it may not be necessary to shampoo every day. Take a day or two off between shampoos and give your scalp’s natural oil a chance to replenish your dry hair. If your hair becomes flat or your scalp gets too oily, try applying a dry shampoo on your roots to refresh and absorb excess oil. Another option is to switch to a cleansing conditioner, a “low-shampoo” cleansing option that gently dissolves debris and conditions your hair at the same time.
- Indulge in Moisturizing Masks. Hair masks and treatments inject dry hair with rich ingredients like shea butter to restore suppleness and moisture. They’re particularly helpful for hair that has been damaged by hair coloring or lightening, or by frequent exposure to thermal tools.
- Step up your conditioning routine in harsh weather. Switch to a richer conditioner in cold weather months, when the lack of humidity can cause dry hair to become frizzy and hard to manage.
- Protect your hair outside. UV rays, harsh or dry conditions and swimming in pools or the ocean can all strip dry hair of precious moisture. If you plan to be in the sun, pop on a hat or scarf to protect your hair from the sun. Look for leave-in conditioners that offer UV protection. If you love to swim, waterproof your hair by coating it with a thick conditioning cream or treatment oil, and covering it with a swim cap before you dive in.
- Color with Care. Discuss your hair color options with your stylist. Nowadays there are many formulas—like low-ammonia demi-permanents and semi-permanents, for example—that will produce the results you’re searching for. You may also want to switch from foil highlights to balayage highlights. Balayage highlights are hand-painted onto the mid-lengths and ends of your hair and the look is deliberately rooty, so you can get away with less-frequent touch-ups. That means less exposure to hair lightener and less damage that can lead to dryness.
- Use Re-Bonders. New hair technology has resulted in re-bonding formulas that can be added to hair color, and are also used at home. These additives work to repair the hair bonds that are broken during lightening and coloring processes, which can cause hair to become moisture depleted. The home-use formulas continue the re-bonding action and prevent further damage in the weeks after the color is applied.
- Avoid Thermal Abuse. The blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons and hot rollers that make your hair look so amazing are also a big part of why it might be dry. High temperatures strip strands of natural moisture, especially in the case of irons and rollers which come in direct contact with dry hair. Invest in ionic thermal tools that feature a variety of temperature settings and avoid setting your dryers and irons too high. Use thermal protection lotions and creams on damp hair, and thermal protection sprays on dry hair before using your styling irons.
- Air Dry Whenever You Can. Take a break from heat and experiment with hairstyles like braids, buns and chignons that don’t require heat styling. Prep with air-dry styling creams that help form your style and fight frizz, and give your dry hair a rest from moisture-hating thermal tools!
- Find a Conditioner for Fine Hair. Although fine hair isn’t typically as dry as other textures, skinny strands need moisture too! The aim is to find lightweight conditioners for your hair type that won’t add weight. New conditioning gel technology, for example, imparts light-weight, oil-free, nourishment from roots to ends.