Dry Hair: Causes, Preventions And 9 Easy Care Tips

All Your Hair Questions, Answered

Dry Hair: Causes, Preventions, And 9 Expert Care Tips

09 November 2018
photo of woman with dry curly hair
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Emily Arata

Senior Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L’Oréal, Emily works with celebrity stylists to make finding the right cut, color, or style easier than ever before. She's previously written for Allure, Elite Daily, and First We Feast.

Of all the woes that can bring a great hair week to a standstill, few are as pervasive as dry hair. If your locks are feeling crunchy and parched, it’s basically impossible to make a silky blowout or even an emergency ponytail happen.

Dryness is a tricky subject because it can be caused by a wide variety of factors. Matthew Morris, Kérasase brand ambassador and expert stylist, is the dry hair guru you desperately need for dark brown hair or ash blonde.

If you’re suddenly noticing a change in hair texture, he recommends making sure the fix is within your styling capabilities. Prescription medication, graying strands, and an overload or lack of protein can all throw your texture out of whack.

Anyone can have dry hair. It does not discriminate. There are hair types that mimic dryness, like coarse hair and gray hair, but they are not generally dry...People label hair as ‘dry’ often without knowing what the real problem is.

If you haven’t experienced a significant change in your hair care routine but your hair’s texture has clearly changed, it’s time to call in a professional. To help your hair feel better, you’ll need to know if it actually is dry or just seems that way.

“Find out from your stylist if your hair is, in fact, dry, or if it is the texture, product usage, color, and drying techniques that are making it ‘feel’ dry,” he says.

Once you have an understanding of what’s making your hair feel so brittle, it’s time to tackle the solution. Read on to find out what might be contributing to dryness—and how to fix the problem.

Causes Of Dry Hair

Morris says a myriad of factors could play a role in the dryness of your hair, but only some of them are ultimately within your control. Side effects of medication, hard water, excess protein, and environmental factors could all be leaving your hair feeling rough and parched, but styling your hair to protect it as much as possible is really the only way around it.

Trying to understand what’s going on with your mane? The best treatment for dry hair will always be one customized for your individual head of hair. That in mind, your stylist is the ultimate resource to turn to. If you’re waiting for the day of your appointment, however, there are a few general categories of fixes for dry hair.

Keep scrolling as we break down 11 common issues—and the expert fixes for them with the help of Kérastase products.

Your Curls Lack Moisture

Some hair types are more prone to dryness than others. If you have waves, curls, or tight coils, you may find that your hair often feels a bit crispier than you’d like, even if you’re doing your best to care for it. That’s because the zigs and zags of curly hair can make it harder for oil to travel down the hair shaft, which is why the tightest curl patterns are so prone to becoming parched.

To help manage your hair type, focus on regular moisturizing masks and deep conditioners. Cutting down how often you shampoo should also help. We’re big fans of the Nutritive Masquintense, which is formulated for dry, extremely sensitized, thick hair. The exceptionally nourishing treatment will do wonders for your home care routine.

You’re showering in water that’s too hot.

On the other hand, there are some causes of dry hair you may be bringing on yourself. Morris starts with hot water temperatures in the shower, which most of us are guilty of indulging in.

“Excessively hot water is a big culprit [behind dry hair],” the pro stylist explains. “People are literally boiling the moisture out of their hair. When conditioning the hair, the hair should be warm and conditioner should be applied and rinsed with cooler water. This will close the cuticle down and trap conditioning agents and moisture with it.”

It’s not just texture and softness that are falling prey to that searing water, either. If you’re spending good money on the hair color of your dreams, you won’t be happy to know that you’re effectively washing it down the drain. A cool temperature can help you cleanse your color treated hair safely.

You’re using shampoo the wrong way.

If you’re not using the proper technique to shampoo your hair, you could be needlessly drying it out. There’s a reason your hair feels so good after getting it washed in-salon—they’re experts!

When shampooing your mane, use less shampoo than you’re used to. Focus it right at the scalp, where natural oil and product can build up over time. Instead of using your nails to scratch at the skin, let your fingertips do most of the work. Areas like the nape and the spot just above either ear can get neglected.

Avoid scrubbing your whole strand—ends that are far away from the oils of the scalp need more gentle care. Allowing the suds to run down the strand as you thoroughly rinse should take care of all the cleansing they require.

You’re using conditioner the wrong way.

When you’re done shampooing, rinse your hair until the water runs clear. Then, gently squeeze excess water from your mane before grabbing the conditioner. Focus the formula on your ends, remembering that they’re often prone to dryness.

Making sure your hair is hydrated and protected shouldn’t just happen during styling. The truth is that a quality hair care routine starts in the shower.

“For generally dry hair, the Aura Botanica Micellare Bain Riche Shampoo and Soin Fondimental Conditioner are intense, moisturizing care with an incredible and easy aroma,” Morris says.

You’re styling without protection.

Once you’re out of the shower, Morris says the hair dryer can be at fault for your dry hair woes. Relying on high temperatures every day and regularly forgetting a heat protectant can wreak havoc on your locks.

“Applying a thermal protectant to damp, towel-dried hair is key for helping to prevent damage and dryness from the blow dryer and hot tools,” he says. “The thermal protectant—a great go-to is Nectar Thermique Hair Milk from Kérastase—is made with ingredients that are intended to coat and protect hair from the heat, and other ingredients that are intended to evaporate into the air instead of all that delicious moisture you just worked so hard to get in there.”

The next time you turn on a styling tool, be sure to set out a heat protectant product in plain sight. If it’s right in front of you, you won’t be able to forget about applying it.

You’re using a tool that’s too hot.

It’s also possible you can thank the temperature on your dryer or flat iron for your crunchy ends. Some tools heat up higher than what’s protected by your hair products. If you’re styling at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, make sure the label on your heat protectant promises the same.

We love L’Incroyable Blowdry, a miracle reshape heat lotion that’s redefining heat styling with long-wear hold and repositionable shape control. Formulated to provide thermo-protection up to 446 degrees Fahrenheit, L’Incroyable Blowdry controls the look of frizz for 96 hours in 80 percent humidity.

You’re heat styling too frequently.

If your dryness is a result of over-styling or heat, take a step back from the blow dryer. It’s crucial that every woman have a few air-dried styles under her belt, for days when heat styling just won’t cut it. Don’t forget the heat protectant product on days you do bust out the curling iron, either. Aura Botanica Lait de Soie Blow-Dry Milk is a favorite of ours!

Having beautiful, healthy-looking hair is one thing, but you can also fake it with products that create shine and body. If you need to temporarily mask the look of dry hair, Morris stands by the brand’s Aura Botanica Eau de Vagues Wave Spray for a beachy, gorgeous mane.

“I find most beach sprays leave the hair looking matte and teased. That doesn’t happen on any beach I’ve been too. Eau de Vagues is a welcome new way to get the waves without the lack of shine,” he explains.

Armed with the advice of a professional and an arsenal of styling techniques—not to mention product picks—dry hair will soon be a thing of the past for you. Enjoy that bouncy blowout, knowing that it was hard-won.

You’re going light too quickly.

Interestingly, it isn’t just at-home factors that could be sucking the moisture from your strands. Morris cites over-processed or overly lightened hair as the third most frequent cause of dryness he sees. If you’ve never tried a blonde or pastel hair color, it’s important to know that shades like this require a blank canvas—in other words, your stylist will need to lift the existing color from your hair using bleach before starting on the new shade.

Bleach is inherently damaging hair, which is why professionals use it carefully. If a dramatic color change is your end goal, expect to come into the salon for multiple appointments so your pro can lift the color slowly while maintaining the health of your hair as best they can.

To help minimize the chances of accidentally ending up with ramen noodle hair (read: dry and fragile), take the time to research before booking a color appointment and be clear with your stylist that you want to ensure the health of your hair. A simple conversation can make all the difference!

You’re dealing with over-processed hair.

We always joke that hair color is addictive, and it’s certainly a fun hobby to pursue. If you’re always trying the latest shade, you may find that your hair pays the price over time. The only way to deal with over-processed hair is to take a vacation from color for a few months and give your hair extra TLC.

To ensure your hair looks as beautiful as possible, invest in a deep conditioner or in-salon treatment. Your strands will thank you! Now, you’re all set to combat dryness.

Interested in more customized tips about dealing with dryness? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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