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How to Treat Dry Hair & What Causes It

What is dry hair?

With so many different hair types, textures and thicknesses out there, most people will have varying experiences about what constitutes a “normal” hair day. But if you’ve been dealing with excessive dryness or brittle hair, there are ways to remedy it to bring your locks back to a healthy and properly-nourished state.

Dry hair occurs when your hair either doesn’t produce enough natural oils to keep it healthy, or they’re being stripped away. These natural oils, also known as sebum, are responsible for nourishing the hair, while helping to properly seal the cuticle and lock in moisture and shine. And dry hair is not to be confused with dehydrated hair, which results from a lack of water.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of dry hair:

  • Dullness: A lack of natural oils usually directly coincides with a lack of shine, so very dry hair can look dull and lifeless.
  • Brittleness: Dry hair can break easily, and you’ll notice more delicate, brittle strands and hair damage.
  • Tangles easily: Dry, dull and brittle strands are more prone to tangling among themselves, since they lack the natural oils that help your cuticle lie flat and smooth.
  • Dandruff: Having dry hair usually means you also have a dry scalp, which can produce those signature dandruff flakes.
  • Frizziness: When hair strands are properly nourished with natural oils, the cuticle will lie flat, locking in shine and protecting the hair against humidity and potential damage. Since dry hair is weaker and more prone to breaking, the combination of split ends and environmental stressors can make the hair look frizzy and dull.

Davines MOMO shampoo gel pouring

What causes dry hair?

  • Dry scalp: We know that the oils produced at your roots are responsible for keeping your hair and scalp properly moisturized. Scalp dryness is usually a sign that you lack enough of these oils, which generally means dry hair isn’t too far behind.
  • Age: Many people notice that their hair texture changes as they get older, becoming drier and frizzier — this is because our oil production decreases as we age.
  • Environmental conditions: Your environment can also have a big effect on the state of your hair and scalp. Those who live in hotter, drier climates or spend a lot of time in chlorinated or salt water are more likely to have to deal with dry hair.
  • Medical conditions: If you don’t see any obvious physical or lifestyle causes for your dry hair and scalp, talk to your doctor about potential medical conditions being the cause. Things like hypothyroidism and improper blood circulation have been linked to dryness.
  • Styling damage: If you’re not protecting your hair against heat damage, or just heat styling it frequently, essential oils are being stripped from your hair, making it drier and more prone to damage and breakage. Additionally, chemicals from bleach, relaxers and some hair dyes can cause extra stress on the hair, which also leads to dryness and brittleness.
  • Overwashing: Washing your hair too frequently increases the likelihood that you’re stripping your hair and scalp of essential oils, which leads to dry, frizzy and dull hair. Be sure to check out our blog post on “how often you should be washing your hair” to learn more.
  • Poor diet: Nutritional deficiencies have also been linked to dry hair and scalp: protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins A, B, C and D are all important for healthy hair, and if you’re lacking any it could be the reason why your roots aren’t functioning well enough to produce enough oil.

Woman shampooing hair MOMO Davines

How to treat dry hair in 8 simple steps

We’ve discussed symptoms and causes of dry hair, so now it’s time to tackle the issue head-on.

1. Choose hydrating products

Proper hair care starts in the shower, and dry hair needs moisturizing hair care products. Start by swapping out your old shampoo and conditioner with something hydrating: MOMO moisturizing conditioner and MOMO moisturizing shampoo are designed to detangle, hydrate, and leave all hair types soft and silky. Both products are formulated with Cartucciaru melon extract from a Slow Food farm in Italy — this melon has extremely hydrating properties, featuring vitamins A, C, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. If your dryness is a result of excessive heat or chemical styling damage, you’ll want to try a conditioner with a more intense kind of repair. NOUNOU conditioner for processed hair moisturizes and nourishes bleached, permed or relaxed hair, making it soft and easy to detangle.

2. Use a weekly hydrating hair mask

At least once a week, swap in a deep conditioning hair mask for your usual conditioner. This will provide targeted attention to your dry strands, packing in extra nourishment and hydration. Featuring Roucou oil rich in ellagic acid, nourishing OI Hair Butter will turn all dry strands into soft, frizz-free, luscious-looking hair.

3. Air dry when possible

Heat exposure will only make dry strands drier, so try to swap out the blow-dryer when you can and give your hair a break.

4. Lower the heat setting on styling tools

For those days when you have to expose your hair to heat, use your styling tools on the lowest heat setting possible. And always remember to use heat protectant styling products before using a blow-dryer, flat iron or any other heat tool, and be gentle with your hairstyle techniques!

5. Incorporate oil treatments

Using a hot oil hair treatment has a ton of perks for dry or damaged hair: aside from reduced frizz and dryness, you can also help make your hair stronger against breakage and split ends. If you like home remedies, you can use any common oil like avocado, olive oil, jojoba oil, vitamin E oil, argan oil or coconut oil, or even a multifunctional hair oil that has a range of benefits.

  1. Starting with freshly washed hair, microwave a few tablespoons of the oil of your choice for 10 seconds.
  2. After testing to confirm it’s not hot enough to burn, massage the oil into your hair, starting at the scalp and working your way to the ends.
  3. Cover your hair with a shower cap and leave in for at least 20 minutes (for an intensive treatment, leave it on overnight).
  4. Rinse, and follow with your favorite conditioner.

Davines MOMO Shampoo Bars

6. Diet, supplements, and hydration

We’ve discussed how certain nutritional deficiencies can lead to dry and lifeless hair, so make sure your diet is well-rounded and incorporate different types of food to keep your hair healthy. I personally take biotin supplements, and have seen new growth from them over the past year. If you have certain food allergies or aversions to different kinds of food, you can always supplement for things you might be lacking (consider checking with your doctor to see what they recommend). And of course, stay hydrated! This will help bring essential moisture to your scalp to keep everything running effectively.

7. Cut back on alcohol

Healthy hair is reliant on moisture — consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is very dehydrating, which means your body is being stripped of the hydration it needs to function properly, even when it comes to hair health. Try to be responsible and stay hydrated when you’re enjoying a night out… your hair (and head) will thank you!

8. Try a bond-building treatment

The beauty world is seeing a surge in keratin and bond-building treatments as a way to repair dry, chemically-damaged hair. At its base level, a hair bonding treatment repairs chemical bonds in your hair, which cause visible damage, dryness and frizziness when they’re broken. So if your dryness is a result of damage from a chemical hair treatment, swap in a bond-building hair mask to restructure and nourish the hair shaft.

Final thoughts on dry hair

Dealing with dry hair can be frustrating — hairstyles might not come out the way you’d like, frizz is probably a daily struggle, and breakage means always being worried about causing more damage. Luckily natural and sustainable hair products from companies like Davines can make it easy and effortless to nourish your way to less dry strands. So once you’ve swapped in some hydrating hair products (and moisturizing masks), make sure you’re eating a well-rounded diet, staying hydrated, and consider additional treatments like hot oil and bond-building products. If you have any other tricks or tips that have transformed your dry hair, let us know in the comments!

Moisturizing shampoo bar for dry or dehydrated hair.

Leave-in moisturizing cream for dry or dehydrated hair.

Rich moisturizing cream for all hair and skin types.

by Lauren Hannel, featured contributor

Photos by @goldandglowco

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