Split ends, brittle strands, and dullness are the most typical symptoms of dry hair, but if you’ve got any of these problems, we bet you’ve mused “but how does my hair get like this and what can I do about it?!”
We hear you. Which is why we turned to hair care stylist and expert Sam LaBella for answers. Read on for words of wisdom!
Why is my hair so dry and damaged?!
The short answer to that question is that there’s simply not enough moisture in that mop. “The most common reasons why hair is dry and damaged can be broken down into three categories: chemical, mechanical, and climate,” says Sam LaBella, a Denver-based salon owner.
Whether your scalp isn’t making enough oil, you’re washing away what is being made, or you’re losing moisture through damaged cuticles, one thing’s for sure — hair hydration is super important if you want healthy strands and a healthy scalp.
Here’s a breakdown of the common causes of dry and damaged hair, and some simple tips for getting your tresses back on track.
The Usual Suspects for Dry and Damaged Hair
The Culprit: You’re washing too often.
Ever notice how your skin gets oilier the more you wash it? That’s because harsh cleansers tend to strip away the oils your body naturally produces. The problem is that your body is naturally producing that sebum to keep things from cracking or becoming flaky and dry. That same reasoning applies to the hair. In fact, those pores on our faces that deposit oil are actually hair follicles! In most cases, the body will produce what’s necessary to keep our skin hydrated, healthy, and protected, and that goes for the skin on our scalp as well as our face. When we strip our skin of that natural moisture, our body sends a signal to its sebaceous glands to produce more oil to make up for what we just washed away, thus beginning a never-ending cycle of lather-rinse-repeat. If your hair seems perpetually oily at the roots but dry and damaged everywhere else, chances are you’re washing too much.
The Culprit: Those treatments or products you’re using are hurting your hair.
It’s always recommended to exercise a less-is-more approach when it comes to hair products (because the more you use, the more you’ll need to wash), but there’s one ingredient that should be avoided at all costs if you can help it: alcohol. Alcohol-based products will straight up strip natural oils from your hair, leaving strands dry and parched.
Heat-treatments (we’re talking habitual blow drying or straightening) will also do a number on the condition of your hair, and, of course, chemical treatments such as frequent dye jobs (especially when flip-flopping between light and dark shades) will eventually lead to damage and dryness.
The Culprit: You’ve got constant exposure to the elements.
Much like how our skin needs sunblock and moisturizer to stay protected from harsh UV rays and rough winds, our hair could also use a little relief from the natural elements it’s exposed to every day, even if they aren’t extreme. “I live in the gorgeous yet dry and ever-temperature-changing city of Denver, Colorado,” says Sam. “I can see it in all of my client’s hair when the seasons shift.”
So, what can you do about those dry locks?
Now that you know what’s causing your hair to look and feel dry, dull, and even damaged (hello, split ends!), what can you actually do about it? Luckily, Sam has the tips, trick, and all-around healthy habits you can keep top of mind for stellar-looking, healthy strands.
“The best ways to remedy dry hair is to protect those split ends from becoming any worse,” says Sam. “By using a product that seals the split throughout your day, you’ll keep it from getting out of control,” she says. “You’ll also want to feed your hair that healthy FAT, baby!” she reminds, and recommends a leave-in conditioning cream to do just that.
To keep things smooth between conditioning treatments, try giving yourself a couple of days between washes. When you do shampoo, be sure to keep it to a scalp massage and not a full treatment of super-drying suds all the way to the ends of your hair.
If you’re out in the elements for a long time, consider covering up with a scarf or hat, and whenever possible, step away from the tools. “Girl, put down the straightening iron!,” LaBella jokes. “I see this type of damage a lot around the face frame.”
Unlike dry skin, dry hair isn’t a hair type one is simply born with. It comes about as the result of various external factors — like the ones listed above. Believe it or not, this is a good thing in terms of treatment! To make sure you’re tackling the trouble from the right angle, keep an eye out for how your hair reacts to the various culprits listed above and add easy adjustments to your routine for your best head of hair.