Our quest to make our vision of ideal hair a reality sometimes results in unhappy, dry locks. Are you one of the many who suffer from dry hair? Do you hear those desperate cries for moisture and healing? First, let's learn about the causes so that you can take steps to prevent it. Then we'll cover some hair care tips to put you in the right direction.
Here are some ways to bring much-needed relief to dry tresses:
- Heat is really what often causes and exacerbates dry hair, which isn't really surprising - heat causes moisture to evaporate. There isn't much you can do to change the weather where you live, unless you move. But you can reduce the heat inflicted upon your hair in other ways.
- Lay off the blow-dryer and irons for a while! Find a good towel and air-dry instead, if you have the time. If you need to use a blow-drier, try adjusting to a lower heat setting and reduce the length of time you blow-dry.
- If you're out in the dry heat, think about wearing a hat. Or if you want to sunbathe, use a conditioner that contains sunscreen.
- Don't wash your hair too much. The vast majority of people wash too frequently and apply too much shampoo. Shampooing your hair less will help relieve the dryness. Even cutting down to a wash every other day will show improvement.
- Use hair care products that are friendlier to dry hair. Here's what to look for:
- Look for shampoos and conditioners that contain humectants, which attract moisture to your hair and help to keep it there. Often, these products contain proteins, too, which strengthen your hair. If your locks are weighted down and unflattering, you may be using too much conditioner.
- Low pH shampoos are better for dry hair, since they don't cause the cuticles to lift. The cuticle is the outermost protective layer of a strand, and is built like a bunch of scales. When those scales lift and separate, hair can dry out badly.
- Speaking of cuticles, using a product with acidifiers can help heal dry hair as well. Acidifiers help to flatten and fix those lifted, separated cuticle scales.
- Sebum is not just a fantastic word; the scalp's secretion of sebum is one of our body's natural defenses against dryness. So what to do when your scalp is oily but your hair is dry? You need a specific treatment for this situation:
- Use those shampoos and conditioners designed to add moisture to your hair, but massage them only into your hair away from the scalp, not where it contacts and interacts with your scalp. Overwashing a scalp can compel the body to secret more sebum anyway.
- Find a sebum-like oil that will penetrate cuticles. Jojoba (another fantastic word) behaves very much like sebum, so occasionally apply a couple of drops of 100% jojoba oil spread through your hair away from the scalp. (It doesn't take much jojoba to notice some improvement.)
- Unlike essential oils, most non-essential oils coat the hair, rather than being absorbed into it. While this may trap whatever moisture your hair is currently holding, it won't add new moisture and can build up to act as a shield to new moisture that could enter from the conditioner you use. Applying non-essential oil to hair is similar to putting petroleum jelly on dry, cracked knuckles - those knuckles need moisture treatment too, not just a shield.
Also beware of what heat does to oil. Don't use a blow-dryer or irons right after treating your hair with oil - you're just cooking your hair at that point. Unfortunately, the sun can have the same effect.
- Chemical hair treatments like perming, relaxing and coloring are foes to humectants and consequently dry out your hair. If dryness is a concern, you shouldn't color, perm or use relaxer until you've nurtured your locks back to health.
- Another weapon is proper nutrition, so drink plenty of water. Also, be sure that your diet contains the proper essential fatty acids. We forget that hair health is a reflection of nutrition as well. It often surprises people that malnutrition causes dry hair, but it's right up there with other culprits like overwashing, heat and chemical damage.
Now you can start applying some of these care and treatment options and be on your way to beautiful, healthy hair.