Dry, staticky hair… it's frustrating all year long, but as the temperatures start to dip and our heating systems kick on indoors, things go from annoying to dire pretty quickly. Add hats to the mix, and dry hair becomes untamable!
Are you unknowingly contributing to your dry hair issue with some common habits?
Read on to learn more about what causes dry, dull, damaged hair and what you can do to keep your hair as hydrated as possible to keep it shiny, healthy and voluminous.
How Can You Tell If Your Hair Is Too Dry?
In some cases, dry hair can be subtle, while in others, it might be painfully obvious. All of us experience dry hair now and then, but a few key signs can tell you if it is a problem that needs to be addressed.
The biggest sign of dry hair is damage. Frequent dryness often results in split ends, breakage, and brittle hair.
Another key sign of dryness is frizz – stray hairs that are difficult to style and won’t follow the crowd are indicators of a lack of moisture. Sure, the weather can occasionally leave your hair with some extra frizz, but if you find yourself with hair that is often frizzy, you may have consistently dry hair.
Dry hair also goes hand-in-hand with a dry scalp. Since your scalp produces oil for the rest of your hair, a dry scalp is a key indicator that your hair is too dry as well. Indicators of a dry scalp include itchiness and flaking.
If you find your hair with any of these issues, you should do a deeper analysis of your routine to find out what the culprit is.
What Are Everyday Causes of Dry Hair?
Your hair contains a natural oil called sebum, which is produced by your scalp. This oil helps to lubricate your hair shaft and lock in moisture, preventing breakage.
Dry hair is most often the result of insufficient sebum, and there are many ways that your hair care routine can affect your scalp’s production of this natural oil. The following are some of the most common causes of dry hair.
1. Over-Washing Your Hair
Washing your hair is a normal part of a regular hair care routine. Of course, you need to wash out the dirt and oil from your hair – but probably not as often as you might think.
Washing your hair too often can strip the natural oils from your hair, and shampoo often has powerful detergents that dry it out even further.
Sebum plays a vital role in keeping your hair hydrated, but it can take some time to work from your scalp all the way to the ends of your hair. If you wash every day, your hair doesn’t have the chance to regenerate the essential sebum and prevent dryness.
With this in mind, you can take comfort in skipping a few days of shampooing. Most hair types can usually handle hair washing two to three times per week with no negative consequences.
Depending on your hair type, you may be able to wait even longer between washes. For example, curlier hair types can often go three to four weeks before needing to shampoo, since the sebum takes longer to move through the hair strands.
In between washes, you can use a dry shampoo or try leave-in treatments if you are worried about your hair getting too oily.
2. Using the Wrong Haircare Products
An effective hair care routine starts with effective products. Many times, the hair products we choose feature labels that tell us all of their benefits – but it’s the other side of the label that counts.
Shampoos, conditioners, and styling products often contain sneaky ingredients that have harsh effects on your hair. Harsh chemicals like sulfates, parabens, alcohol, and synthetic fragrances can take a toll, stripping the natural oils from your hair and drying out your hair strands.
These effects can be especially detrimental if you have a sensitive scalp, as they can cause irritation and worsen the problem.
Instead, aim for products that contain fortifying ingredients like:
- Argan oil
- Essential oils
- Apple cider vinegar
- Green tea extract
3. Too Much Heat Styling or Blow Drying
You might love the look of curled or straightened hair, but unfortunately, those curling and flat irons have no love for your hair. Heat damage is no joke, and using these tools regularly can leave your hair dry and often dull. As a result, you risk ending up with damaged or brittle hair.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can style your hair without these tools. Using specialized products like texturizing sprays and primers can give your hair more volume without heat.
There are also plenty of other approaches, like braiding, using heatless curls, and trying updo hairstyles. YouTube is filled with heatless overnight styling ideas using everything from an old pair of leggings to a bathrobe belt. Some salons have started to specialize in air-dried hairstyles, too, to give an effortlessly chic look while protecting your locks from heat-styling damage.
If you are committed to heat styling tools for your hair, use a heat protectant before you do, and try to keep the curling iron on its lowest setting. In doing so, you can have the best of both worlds. Still, you should limit your use of heat tools to once or twice a week.
Try using a satin pillowcase to extend the life of your hairstyle and allow you to wait more days before washing and restyling.
Like heat styling, blow drying your hair is quick and seems harmless, but it can be worse for your hair than you think. The hot air from blow dryers can take the moisture out of your hair and scalp, which isn’t helpful after washing out your natural oils in the shower.
If you use a hair dryer as part of your everyday routine, you might be leaving your hair especially desperate for moisture.
Since blow drying is so unfriendly, you should try to avoid doing it at all. Instead of blow drying, lightly pat or squeeze your hair with a towel and let it air dry.
If you can't avoid blow-drying, try allowing your hair to dry naturally to about 80% dryness and use your hair dryer on the lowest, coolest setting to finish your style...and even then, try to limit your use to once or twice a week.
4. Washing With Hot Water
You can probably tell by now that heat is the enemy of your hair. So even though that hot shower feels nice on your scalp, you might regret it later.
Hot water dries out the natural oils from your hair down to your scalp. Not to mention, hot water can also irritate your scalp, which is where oil production starts.
Instead of scorching your hair, wash it with lukewarm water around room temperature. Even when washing, this helps to retain some of the natural oils and prevent irritation.
5. Not Brushing Enough
Brushing your hair is more important than you think. Yes, it is helpful in detangling your hair, but it can have another positive impact as well. Your scalp produces sebum to keep your hair hydrated and flexible, but this process only works if the sebum moves through the hair.
By brushing your hair regularly, you work the natural oils from your scalp and through the ends of the hair. Otherwise, the oil buildup sits on your scalp and leaves you with dry hair.
Brushing your hair daily also helps prevent it from appearing too oily between washes, as it helps work the oils evenly throughout your strands.
You should brush your hair once in the morning and in the evening. If you have a curly or coily hair type, avoid a standard brush by using a wide-tooth comb or running your fingers through the hair—this will keep you from yanking through your hair and causing potential damage.
And remember — don’t brush wet hair. Brushing wet hair can lead to hair damage and even hair loss.
6. The Weather
You may not always consider how big of an impact the weather can have on your hair. Even with a seemingly perfect hair care routine, you can still have dry hair if the weather is dry.
The winter months feature cold, dry air. Desert climates can present the same issue year-round. The dry air makes it difficult for your hair and scalp to maintain that moisture.
Unfortunately, you cannot change the weather – but you can protect your hair against it.
To prevent the cold air from drying out your hair, you can use a leave-in conditioner or apply a bit of hair oil to coat your hair strands. Great choices include lightweight oils like argan or jojoba oil, as both will lock in moisture while providing a layer of protection against the cold air, all without making your hair too oily.
7. Missing Out on the Right Conditioner
When fighting dry hair, conditioner should be a staple in your hair care routine. Unfortunately, though, not all conditioners are made the same.
Your conditioner might not be as effective as other conditioners and still leave you with dry hair –especially if it contains any of the harsh ingredients we mentioned earlier. In your search for the right conditioner, you should choose one that contains ingredients like:
- Aloe vera
- Argan oil
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Tea tree oil
Most importantly, pay attention to how your hair responds to the conditioner you use. After all, everyone’s hair is different. If your hair still appears dry after using the conditioner for a few weeks, you should switch to a different product.
8. Missing Out on Key Nutrients
When considering hair care, we often think only of what products we can add to our hair. However, your nutrition can play an important role as well. Poor nutrition can lead to weak hair strands, dry hair, and even hair loss – so your diet is an integral part of your hair care routine.
Some of the most essential nutrients for healthy hair include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Biotin, collagen, and protein are vital parts of the construction of your hair, whereas zinc and vitamins C and E help support the body’s collagen production. You can include these nutrients through various multivitamins or diversify your diet.
You can support strong, shiny, and hydrated hair by maintaining a diet that mixes in meats, eggs, fish, nuts, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Can Omega-3s Help?
Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that makes up many cell membranes in the body. Omega-3s have many benefits in the body, from promoting heart health to supporting healthy joints. However, they can be great for your hair and scalp as well.
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in supporting the skin barrier, which helps to lock in moisture. This function is crucial to supporting a healthy scalp and hydrated hair.
By maintaining a hydrated scalp, you can maintain healthy oil production for hydrated hair. Omega-3 has also been shown to potentially support hair density as well, making it an all-around excellent option for hair health.
To include more omega-3s in your diet, you can turn to fatty, oily fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, and tuna. You can also turn to fish or krill oil supplements for quicker sources. Another excellent option, especially for people who prefer not to eat or are forced to avoid fish, is an algae supplement.
Algae supplements are a completely plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, making them a wonderful choice for any lifestyle. Algae supplements are also absorbed better by the body, so your body is able to make more use of the omega-3s, all without giving you fishy breath.
Find Relief for Dryness
Leave dry, damaged hair in the past. There are many causes for dry hair, but many of them can be addressed by adjusting your routine appropriately. By using the right products and steering clear of routines that can strip the natural oils from your hair, you can tackle dryness for good.
At iwi life, we strive to support you in the process. We are committed to helping you promote your overall health and well-being, including healthy hair.
With iwi life’s algae-based omega-3 supplement, you can support your natural oil production for hydrated hair. However, hydrated hair is just a small fraction of all you stand to gain from omega-3s.
See all of the excellent benefits you can enjoy by exploring our complete family of products.
Skin and Hair | Harvard Health
Effect of a nutritional supplement on hair loss in women | PMC
Diet and Skin Barrier: The Role of Dietary Interventions on Skin Barrier Function | PMC