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April 11, 2012

Dry Hair: Causes and Solutions

After having a recent conversation with a fellow natural about hair care, I decided to do a series on natural hair care and maintenance. The focus of this post is dry hair. Naturally curly hair is prone to dryness because of the structure of the hair. The natural oils produced by the scalp of those with curly/kinky hair are not able to travel all the way down the hair shaft because of the twists and turns of the curls. Dry hair is a set -up for breakage and breakage ensures that you will not “see” hair growth! Other problems can also exacerbate this dry state of affairs. Listed below are some common causes and solutions.

Dry Hair

Possible Causes

  • Shampooing too often
  • Use of 'poos with harsh sulfates
  • Use of products with alcohol which can also be drying
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Sleeping on a cotton pillowcase or using a cotton scarf, which rob hair of moisture
  • Overly porous or low porosity hair
  • Not using water based hair moisturizers
  • Not sealing moisture in with an oil or butter
  • Improper hair pH
  • Excessive use of heavy products w/out proper cleansing (build-up)
  • Chemical Damage such as relaxers or other chemical straighteners
  • Color treated hair (notorious for dryness)
  • Using too much direct heat (blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron, etc. on a consistent basis)
  • Too much chlorine (from swimming pools or tap water)
  • Salt (from ocean water)
  • General weathering from the elements
  • Mechanical damage from over manipulation (which leave the cuticle vulnerable)


Solutions

  • Increase water in-take
  • Pre-poo with an oil that can penetrate the hair shaft like coconut oil
  • Cleanse with moisturizing poos or ones that contain milder surfactants like Coco Betaine, and always follow up with a conditioner that moisturizes well
  • Use a water based leave-in conditioner after your wash and conditioning routine, and seal it in with a butter or oil while damp or wet
  • Explore protective styling to help retain moisture
  • Use deep conditioners weekly. Some may need to apply indirect heat through a shower cap, steamer, hair therapy wrap, etc., while deep conditioning
  • Evaluate if your water is hard or soft and if it needs to be treated
  • Protect your hair, when going swimming, with conditioner and a swim cap or use of a product specifically designed for sun/chlorine/salt, such as Ouidad Sun Shield
  • Determine the pH of the products you use in your hair and adjust the ratios/products accordingly
  • Always use a heat protectant when styling with heat.
  • Sleep with a satin pillow case and/or satin scarf
  • Be patient and gentle when handling your hair
  • When you're in windy or sunny conditions, bun or don a hat
The take away is this: Find out WHY your hair is dry. After you establish this, you can determine how best to combat the issue. Remember, the goal is to always keep your hair well-moisturized. Well, as best you can anyway! A well moisturized head of hair is a happy one!

How do you combat dryness and keep your hair moisturized?

26 Chime in!:

Anonymous said...

Excellent tips that should be followed to the letter. Taking each one into account can almost guarantee stronger, healthier, shinier hair. No moisture. No hair!
Using the right satin pillowcase is key. Stay away from polyester brands and opt for a natural, hydrating satin case from online retailers like Neero & Ana(www.neeroana.com). There really is a difference.

Thanks in Advance said...

Hpow would you determine if your hair has low porosity?

How would you determine if you have build up?

How would you determine that you have hard water?

Am I the only person who dsn't know these things?

Anonymous said...

I may be able to answer a few of your questions. If you have low porosity hair, you can wash your hair and can see water beads on your hair because your hair is not taking in moisture very well. With build up, your hair can be soggy, limp, and very stubborn because your hair needs to be cleaned of previous hair products. Hard water--I am not sure about that. Perhaps it dries your hair out and has way too much chlorine!

Anonymous said...

I think acceptance of your hair type is also key. If you have low porosity your hair simply will not absorb water very easily, and there is not much you can do to change that. I think the above tips are important, but some of us could follow each tip to the letter and still have dry hair. It is the nature of some hair types, and I wish more people would accept that.

Irbis said...

Great!!! I knew most of these topics and this post really helps me by knowing the reasons about the excessive dryness of my kinky hair.

Anonymous said...

I think that using excessive products is a great point mentioned that should be honed in. I've noticed that in an effort, to keep their hair moisturized, many naturals use too many products layered on their hair, which actually results in dry, dull looking hair. I know naturals that uses a water based moisturizer, sealed with oil, then sealed with butter, the sealed with 8,000 more products.

I tried to moisturize my hair with a water based conditioner and seal with oil/butter, and my hair always felt like it had a lot of build up which made it feel dry. Now I lightly spritz my hair with water, and seal with a tiny amount of whipped shea butter nightly on each section before I twist, and my hair stays moisturized and shiny all of the time. I also think that twisting the hair nightly helps to maintain moisture as well.

I am rocking a 5 day twist out that looks and feels as moisturized as it did on day 1.

Less really is more when it comes to natural hair.

~caramelcurls

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous at April 11, 2012 9:47 AM - No, you are not "the only person who dsn't know these things?". You have just begun the journey, and are mapping your path.

Most American homes have hard water - which is water that contains lots of minerals. Heated water evaporates faster and leaves the mineral deposits behind. Want to see these mineral deposits? Just look at the walls, doors, and floor of your shower and opening of your faucet for white, crusty build-up. It is also seen as spots on your glassware in the dishwasher.

Do the shower floors look pink (that's rust), do the doors look cloudy? (that's soap film), do the faucets have white residue at the base, stem, or knobs (that's limescale). All of these are caused by deposits of minerals.

These minerals combine with detergents (soaps & shampoos) and leave deposits on your hair, making it look less shiny, dry and coarser.

Some people report smoother skin and hair when they install a water filtering system. Make a note of the different types of filters. Some only remove chlorine and do not remove minerals.

Anonymous said...

I've just recently found what works for my hair as it was chronically dry after I did my big chop. I tried all the things that other naturals swore by such as shea butter and aloe vera juice and swore off of all things with cones and sulfates. What I found after much trial and error was that my hair like cones and responds quite well to them. My routine is now much simpler. I co-wash two to three times a week with Herbal Essence's Hello Hydration, apply my Giovanni Direct Leave-In, Seal with Olive Oil and Shea Moisture's Curling Souffle. It has worked wonders for my hair. I'm so glad the topic of dry hair is being discussed because you don't know what a pain it really was until you find the products that leave your hair soft and moisturized.

M said...

@Anon 9:25, Read this article to figure out how to test for hair porosity: http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/curly-hair-care-methods/quick-easy-hair-porosity-density-tests

I did the hair strand test and my strands never floated to the bottom which meant the cuticles were so closed they weren't letting any moisture in. This made so much sense to me for why my hair was dry. Doing a baking soda treatment and using a steamer has really helped with my dry hair!

Hairandotherstuff.blogspot.com

M said...

I meant Anon@9:47

hairandotherstuff.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I am saving up my pennies to get a Huetiful! The reviews are all over the place on the steamer. Girl, am I hoping the Huetiful steamer works for me!! Playing with my money is like playing with my emotions...

I have porous, fine, medium density 4c coils that feel hard to the touch. Shea moisture smoothies leave it very soft, but give no definition on my overnight twist outs.

I ordered the $3.00+ sample pack of "As-I-Am" products, and am pleased with it so far. The twist cream gives great overnight definition, and doesn't make it as stiff/dry as EcoStyler, hard/tacky as KCCC (my HG), or soft/frizzy as SheaMoisture.

I have used the As-I-Am coconut co-wash and have noticed that my hair is not as stiff as usual. It's not soft and supple either, but it's definitely not hard! LOL

Co-washing without cones may be my hair's preferred regimen.

HTH

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTpBFRRYaZA&feature=related

This video on YOutube explains how to test for Porosity? Hope it helps

Anonymous said...

with my daughter's help, I cut my hair. What is happening is that when I put shea butter in to keep my hair soft and then use the brush technique to get the curly vs kinky style, by the end of the day my hair seems to have collected all the dirt particles and sweating causes my hair to shrink and then I hate it!
How can I keep my hair moisturized without all the butters that seem to just weigh my hair down?

M said...

@Anon 9:17 (HTH)- I wonder if a steamer is a good idea if you said your hair is porous. Overly porous hair already has a wide open cuticle and you probably want to close your cuticle so it can retain moisture. The ONLY reason I spent money on a steamer was b/c I realized that as a low porosity gal the only thing that really opens up my cuticles is a little heat. Re: hard hair, I have heard that the mud wash leaves the hair really soft with defined curls. Check out naptural 85's youtube video on it. I tried it but didn't detox so I can't say for right now but I think it may be good to get all the products off to see what you're working with then figure out what you can use for hair to be softer. Never tried As I Am but I may give them a try! ;-)
M
hairandotherstuff.blogspot.com

M said...

@ Anon 9:47 If you see residue, film, or anything coating your scalp of hair or if you scratch your scalp and come up with products on your hair etc., it's safe to say you may have some buildup. You may also notice that your products are not working as well as they usually do or the product may just sit on top of your hair and may never fully be absorbed. Usually a clarifying shampoo every so often ( once a month or more) can clear this up but for people with low porosity hair this may not be enough. I think Anon @ 2:35 did a really good job explaining hard water. If you still need more info on the type of water you have just post below. You are certainly not the only one who didn't know these things. I learn something new about natural hair almost every week ;-)
M
hairandotherstuff.blogspot.com

Sam Perry said...

Thanks for the useful article. I sometimes find that dry hair can be a result of an improper diet. Salmon is a great food item to eat often to increase the moisture in your hair. Also using the correct hair care products can be a big help. Make sure you use the correct hair products for your hair type.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

DON'T forget people U must take in consideration of CHANGE OF LIFE FOR WOMAN IF HORMONES ARE LOW!

Anonymous said...

I have very low porosity hair. I have to stand under a fairly warm shower for 5 minutes before my hair actually starts "opening up" and absorbing water. My hair loves warm/very warm water for rinsing and co-washing. The only products i use are aloe vera gel and seal with jojoba or coconut oil. My hair loves it and looks clean, hydrated and healthy. I "water" my hair everyday or every other day. My hair loooves water and it is the best moisturizer out there!

surVIVEr28 said...

I'm in Chicago and we have hard water. My hair stayed dry so, i tried a few things to combat this after I did some research on the "Net" One of the biggest changes I made was to I switch shampoos because I believe that "Moisture IN" starts with what you are washing and conditioning your hair with. I either use L'Oreal's Sulfate Free Shampoo, which leaves my hair super soft AFTER I wash it, or ORS Aloe shampoo which is a has a chelating ingredient (aloe). It works like swimmer's shampoo, which u can also buy to pull all of those minerals and chlorines out of your hair. This has been really beneficial to helping me keep the moisture in my hair.

surVIVEr28 said...

Also, consider the atmosphere at work. I work at a really dry place, So I have to make sure that i bring my Aloe vera juice and water spritz to work so, I can re-moisturize when I need to.

luvnM3naturally said...

I spritz twice a day, once in the AM & again before I go to bed, with a mixture of half water and half aloe vera juice. It’s the one staple in my regimen I have not changed. Tried the no-poo wash, wanted to see what all hoopla was about, I will definitely be returning to my Terressentials Clay wash. You can't beat the moisture and the cleansing. I moisturize and style my hair with Qhemets Burdock Butter Cream & Aethiopika Hydrate & Twist. The only oil I use at this time is Jojoba. I'm loving my hair

Decemberpumpkin said...

i started drinking more water and my hair actually feels a bit better :D

Anonymous said...

This article needs to distinguish between drying alcohols and fatty alcohols. The third point leads people to pass over products that contain fatty alcohols which are very moisturizing.

missgigi123 said...

Thanks for this information! very useful

Stacy Christie said...

Thanks for the info.

Ambee said...

I do all of the above and my hair is still dry unless I have hard water in my house

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