Of all the woes that can bring a great hair week to a standstill, few are as bothersome as dry hair. If your locks look and feel crunchy and parched, it’s almost impossible to make a silky blowout or even a ponytail happen. Since dryness can be caused by a variety of factors, from bleach damage to overusing hot tools, managing it can be tricky.
We tapped Matthew Morris, Kérastase brand ambassador and pro stylist, to find out everything you need to know about how to fix dry hair, and more importantly, determine why your strands are parched in the first place. We even share the best shampoo for dry hair to add to your routine.
What is dry hair a sign of?
First things first: 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.
Morris says a myriad of factors can 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 can all leave your hair feeling rough and parched.
How can I hydrate my hair at home?
If you’re looking to nourish your strands without the help of a pro, you’ll need a routine full of hydrating hair products. Start in the shower with a shampoo and conditioner system like Biolage Hydrasource Shampoo and Conditioner. This gentle, paraben-free system helps optimize moisture balance and protect hair against future damage, leaving your strands hydrated and shiny.
To give your strands extra nourishment, apply a moisturizing leave-in conditioner like Biolage Hydrasource Daily Leave-In Tonic. This moisturizing formula balances and strengthens hair for enhanced hair shine and reduced hair breakage.
Can you repair extremely dry, damaged hair?
For those experiencing dryness due to hair damage, you’ll need strengthening and repairing products formulated specifically to hydrate and soften your mane. We recommend starting with a shampoo and conditioner like Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner. This system provides ultimate strength repair, intense conditioning, and color fade protection. Formulated with citric acid and a concentrated bonding care complex, the pH balancing formulas reinforce weakened bonds within your hair to improve hair strength. Follow your shampoo and conditioner with the Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Leave-In Conditioner to strengthen, tame frizz, add shine, and protect against heat damage.
What can I do for extremely dry hair?
If you’re dealing with extremely parched locks, you’ll need to create new hair habits and update your routine with products specifically formulated for very dry hair. Since over-shampooing can strip the natural oils from your mane, we recommend only washing your hair once or twice per week. Keep up with trim appointments to get rid of split ends and keep your strands as healthy as possible.
When it comes to your product line-up, choose extra hydrating formulas like Redken All Soft Mega Shampoo and Conditioner. These formulas are infused with a nourishing mix of sacha inchi extract, aloe vera gel, and cactus extract to soften and add hydration to severely dry, coarse hair. You should also add a hair treatment like Redken All Soft Mega Deep Conditioning Treatment Mask to your routine for extra moisture and hydration.
Since dry hair has so many underlying causes, the best treatment for dry hair will always be one customized for your individual needs. With 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 causes of dry hair that can be addressed at home. Keep scrolling to discover eight common dry hair issues—and Morris’s top tips for fixing them.
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 the sebum your scalp produces to travel down the hair shaft. This is why the tightest curl patterns are so prone to becoming parched.
To help manage your dry strands, focus on regularly using moisturizing masks and deep conditioners. Cutting down how often you shampoo may also help. We’re big fans of the Kérastase Nutritive Masquintense Thick Hair Mask, which is formulated for dry, extremely sensitized, thick hair. If you’re working with fine ringlets, choose a lightweight alternative like Kérastase Nutritive Masquintense Fine Hair Mask.
Your shower water is too hot.
On the other hand, there are some causes of dry hair you may be bringing on yourself.
“Excessively hot water is a big culprit [behind dry hair],” Morris explains. “People are literally boiling the moisture out of their hair. When conditioning the hair, the hair should be warm, and the 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 affected by scorching 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 going light too quickly.
Your at-home habits may not be the only thing sucking the moisture from your strands. Morris cites overprocessed or overly bleached 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 to 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!
For anyone already dealing with dry, bleach damaged hair, opt for a hair treatment like Redken Extreme Bleach Recovery Lamellar Water Treatment. The conditioning treatment for bleached, damaged hair moisturizes dry, brittle hair to restore softness, smoothness, and shine.
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. Use a hydrating formula like Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and focus it right on 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. Be sure to focus on areas like the nape and the spot just above either ear which are often neglected.
Avoid scrubbing your whole strand—your ends are the oldest and most fragile part of your hair and need more gentle care. Allowing the suds to run down the strand as you thoroughly rinse is likely of all the cleansing they require.
You’re using the 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.Try a moisturizing conditioner like Pureology Hydrate Conditioner. This conditioner deeply hydrates dry, color-treated hair.
You’re styling your hair without heat protection.
Your shower routine isn’t enough to protect your strands from heat or styling damage. Once you’re out of the shower, Morris says the blow 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,” Morris says.
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. One of Morris’s favorites is Kérastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique Blow Dry Primer. This leave-in thermal protectant for dry hair protects against heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit while nourishing and smoothing the hair fibers.
You’re using a tool that’s too hot.
It’s also possible the temperature on your dryer or flat iron is to blame 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 Kérastase Couture Styling L’Incroyable Blowdry Hair Lotion. a miracle reshape heat lotion with long-wear hold and repositionable shape control. Formulated to provide thermo-protection up to 446 degrees Fahrenheit, this formula 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 has a few air-dried styles under her belt for days when heat styling just won’t cut it. Be sure to pick up an air dry product like Biolage Styling Airdry Glotion Multi-Benefit Styling Spray to keep your strands looking flawless on heat-free days. This formula boosts shine and enhances shape while strengthening and repairing hair.
If you’re searching for more of the best products for dry hair, keep scrolling for 16 of our favorites.
Our Best Shampoos And Conditioners For Dry Hair
Matrix Total Results Moisture Me Rich Shampoo And Conditioner
To truly rid your mane of dryness, you’ll need to start from the very beginning of your routine. Use a hydrating shampoo and conditioner system like Matrix Total Results Moisture Me Rich Shampoo And Conditioner. This system helps restore moisture to the hair, leaving it soft, replenished, and radiant.
Redken All Soft Argan Oil-Enriched Shampoo And Conditioner
If you want to achieve softer, more hydrated strands, pick up Redken All Soft Argan Oil-Enriched Shampoo And Conditioner. This hair-softening shampoo with argan oil and the brand’s RCT Protein Complex gently cleanses and conditions dry, brittle hair.
Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Hydro-Nourishing Shampoo And Conditioner
This moringa oil-infused system nourishes and rebalances the moisture levels in dry hair without weighing down your strands. Parched locks are cleansed, purified, and protected from pollutants and against future dryness.
Mizani Moisture Fusion Moisture Rich Shampoo
Curls need a ton of moisture to look and feel their best. Start your hydrating routine in the shower with a shampoo like Mizani Moisture Fusion Moisture Rich Shampoo. This formula is infused with cupuacu butter, honey, and argan oil to moisturize all curl types.
L'Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Instant Resurfacing Hydrating Shampoo And Conditioner
L'Oréal Professionnel’s Serie Expert Instant Resurfacing Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner contain gold quinoa and protein that help to hydrate and restructure damaged, weakened hair.
Our Best Hair Treatments For Dry Hair
Mizani Moisture Fusion Intense Moisture Mask
Treat your ringlets to a hydrating hair mask like Mizani Moisture Fusion Intense Moisture Mask. This treatment mask moisturizes and revives dull curls and coils while fighting frizz for a bouncy, defined look.
L'Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Absolut Repair Instant Resurfacing Masque
Strengthen and repair dry, damaged hair with L'Oréal Professionnel’s Serie Expert Absolut Repair Instant Resurfacing Masque. Click here to see how this formula works on three different hair types.
Matrix Total Results Moisture Me Rich Moisture Cure Hydration Treatment
Give dry hair extra TLC with this moisturizing hair treatment. The leave-in treatment instantly revitalizes hair fibers for long-lasting moisture and nourishment. A few spritzes of this lightweight, low pH formula smoothes the hair cuticle, leaving your mane soft, detangled, and shiny.
Redken Extreme Bleach Recovery Cica Cream Leave-In Treatment
If you’re looking to combat dryness due to bleach damage, add a hair treatment like Redken Extreme Bleach Recovery Cica Cream Leave-In Treatment to your routine. This strengthening leave-in treatment deeply nourishes the hair from the inside out to increase the resilience and strength of the hair in between lightening and highlighting services.
Pureology Hydrate Soft Softening Treatment Mask
For dry, color-treated hair, you’ll need products formulated to give your hair much-needed moisture while protecting your salon hue. Pureology’s Hydrate Soft Softening Treatment Mask nourishes and softens dry, color-treated hair with ingredients like shea butter and almond oil. The hair mask contains the brand’s exclusive AntiFade Complex, which helps protect color vibrancy.
Our Best Hair Oils For Dry Hair
Redken All Soft Argan-6 Multi-Care Hair Oil
Enriched with omega-6 fatty acids, this nourishing argan oil formula provides deep conditioning, softness, frizz control, and lasting shine.