How to Moisturise Dry Hair
I know it can be frustrating working out how to moisturise dry hair. I’ve been in the salon business for over 35 years, and I’d like to share a secret; most people have dry hair.
But it’s not as difficult as you might think to fix.
I’ve worked with many hair types and many different products over the years. In my experience, the best way to hydrate dry hair is to build a regular routine of cleansing and moisturising. Not that dissimilar to your skin.
Whether you want to understand the causes of dry hair, the best products for dry hair or how you can build a good routine to care for your hair, in this blog I’ll share my tips on how to moisturise dry hair.
What makes hair dry?
The best place to start when thinking about how to moisturise dry hair is to understand why hair gets dry.
The structure of the hair is vital. Every strand of hair comprises multiple layers; the cuticle, the outer layer, is made of keratin, and it protects the inner layer of the hair, the cortex. The cuticle, a protective layer, comprises tiny scales, almost like tiles on a roof. Over time the cuticle naturally lifts and breaks.
Breakage is made worse by external factors such as sunshine and heated styling.
The cortex is a protein and holds water at the centre of the follicle. When the cuticle lifts, the cortex loses moisture. That results in hair losing its shine, breaking or splitting and becoming dry. When you think about it, there are lots of external factors that can damage the outer layer of the hair. Our hair can also become drier due to internal changes in our bodies. From hormones to ageing, they all have an impact on hair hydration.
How can I tell if my hair is dry?
There are telltale signs when hair is dry and in need of moisture. If you suspect that your hair is dry, but you’re not sure, here’s what to look out for:
- Hair has lost its shine. When hair becomes dull, it’s because the cuticle has lifted, a sure sign of dry hair. When the cuticle lies flat, the hair has an even surface and reflects light, making it shiny.
- Split ends. When the hair splits, this is a classic sign of dry hair. Hydration prevents the hair from splitting.
- The texture. If the hair feels rough, it’s dry. If the cuticle is hydrated and flat, the hair feels soft and silky.
- Breakage. If the hair is breaking, it needs moisture. Hair that retains moisture is generally more elastic.
- Difficult to style. If you find your hair has lost its manageability and responsiveness when styling, it’s dry.
What is the cause of dry hair?
In no particular order, here’s my list of top hair-drying culprits.
- Overexposure to the sun or a combination of cold weather and central heating leaves hair feeling parched.
- Heated styling. Are you attached to your hairdryer or straighteners? Heat causes the cuticle to lift, making hair dry.
- Pollution. Living in an urban environment leaves hair and skin dry.
- Simple things can cause hair to become dry. For instance, pulling hair back into a ponytail, touching hair too much or over-styling.
- Medication. Some types can make hair dry.
- Ageing. As we age, we produce less sebum (natural oil produced by the scalp), leaving hair more coarse and dry.
- Hormonal changes.
- Using the wrong shampoo for your hair type or a harsh shampoo.
- Colour treatments open the cuticle so that the hair can retain colour. Opening the cuticle leaves hair prone to dryness.
- Are you eating your greens? Insufficient nutrients or lack of hydration can contribute to dry hair.
- Styling products containing ingredients such as silicones and alcohol denat.
- Sporty types. If you love to swim, chlorine can leave hair dry. If cycling is your thing, getting hot under your cycling helmet can dehydrate hair.
- You were born with it. Some of us have naturally dry hair.
- Sleeping on cotton pillows. As we move around at night, a cotton pillow can rough up hair, causing breakage.
- Not keeping your ends in check. Hair is most dry at the ends, and without regular trims, hair can split.
Discover how to stop split ends in my blog, How to Get Rid of Split Ends and Prevent their Return.
How can I hydrate my hair?
Ok, so if you made it to the end of this list, you might be feeling a little daunted. As you can see from my list, plenty of things can leave hair feeling dry and dull. But it’s not inevitable to have dry hair. I believe in putting back what you take out, and simply put, that means adding moisture to dry hair.
Below you’ll find my Dos and Don’ts for How to Moisturise Dry Hair.
How to Moisturise Dry hair: Dos and Don’ts
- Do shampoo and condition hair regularly. For most people, that means 2-3 times a week.
- Don’t skip conditioner. Hair and skin are both proteins. A simple routine of cleansing and conditioning will help build moisture.
- Do use a weekly hair mask treatment. A deep conditioning hair mask gives hair extra moisture. Treat weekly.
- Do turn down the heat. Choose a cooler setting that is less drying for the hair.
- Do use heat protection. When using any heated styling products, use heat protection to limit the damage.
- Do give your hair a break. Air dry hair once a week. Why not combine this with deep conditioning hair treatment?
- Don’t overdry your hair. A common mistake is to dry the hair for too long. Reduce drying time by at least one minute and see how your hair responds.
- Do choose a natural styling product that conditions hair as you style. Styling products have moved on. No need to use products with harsh chemicals. You can find styling products that condition hair as you style.
- Do make sure you have a balanced diet. Eat plenty of nutrient-rich fruit and veg.
- Don’t let your body become dehydrated. Drink water. What’s good for the body is good for the hair.
- Do sleep on a satin or silk pillow. The slippery texture of a satin or silk pillow will help avoid knots and breakage.
- Do squeeze out excess water. Use a towel to gently blot the hair before applying a conditioner or a hair mask. Conditioner slides off wet hair. Make sure you get the full benefits.
- Don’t get into hot water. Washing hair in warm water is less drying for hair.
- Do see your stylist for regular trims. Keeping on top of dry ends will prevent splitting.
If you’ve never used natural styling products, I give you the heads up on why they are the best choice for your hair in my blog, Get your Best Hair with Natural Styling Products.
How do you treat fine, dry hair?
If your hair is fine and dry, you may have found that using some conditioners to treat hair makes it flat. If you’ve had that experience, you may decide to skip conditioner altogether. That can exacerbate the problem, and when fine hair becomes dry, it can become prone to breakage, tangling and fly-aways. The only way to combat this is by keeping hair hydrated. The best way to keep hair hydrated is with regular conditioning.
I recommend conditioning your hair every time you shampoo.
For best results, follow my tips on how to treat fine, dry hair.
- Avoid conditioners that contain silicones. Silicones coat the hair and can cause fine hair to be flat.
- Mix and match your shampoo and conditioner. Choose a shampoo for volume. Follow with a moisturising conditioner for dry hair.
- Apply conditioner to the ends of the hair and mid-lengths of the hair. Avoid the roots.
- Work up conditioners in the palm of your hands before you apply. With fine hair, in particular, it’s vital to get an even spread of conditioner. That avoids applying too much product to one area.
- The best conditioners for fine, dry hair are those containing pro-vitamin b5. Pro-vitamin b5 is one of the few ingredients that can penetrate the outer layer of the cuticle and moisturise right to the core of the hair. When dry hair has moisture, the moisture plumps out the cuticle making hair feel and look fuller with more body. Moisture is what fine, dry hair needs to get as much volume as possible.
- Choose styling products with styling protection and give moisture to the hair as you style. For example, I use tocopherol(vitamin E) in my styling range to nourish hair as you style.
Get the best advice on looking after fine hair in my blog, Salon Know How: How to look after Fine Hair. You’ll find expert tips on looking after fine hair.
How do you treat dry, coarse hair?
Coarse hair comes in many varieties; curly hair, frizzy hair, straight hair, Asian hair or redheads. The common factor is that the texture feels rough. Coarse hair has the largest diameter of all hair textures. That means that it is prone to losing moisture and dry ends. So when you think about how to moisturise dry hair that’s coarse, it’s vital to focus on getting as much hydration into the hair as possible.
For best results, follow my tips on how to treat dry, coarse hair.
- Do you have dry, coarse hair? Get into a routine of hair cleansing and conditioning. I recommend washing hair 2 to 3 times a week. It’s vital to keep your scalp clean and your hair moisturised. Choose a good quality gentle shampoo formulated to hydrate your hair.
- Conditioning is an absolute must every time you shampoo your hair. Get the most from your conditioner by patting out the excess water with a towel bore you apply. Leave your conditioner on for a minute or two if you can. Let your hair soak up the moisture.
- Always use a heat protector for heated styling. Heated styling exacerbates the dryness, so it’s best to choose styling products that condition. Avoid ingredients that are drying, such as alcohol denat. I use Sugar Beet in my styling products as it enables the hair to retain moisture in the hair for longer.
- A weekly deep conditioning hair mask is essential for dry, coarse hair. Not only will it help to hydrate, but it also softens, smooths and makes hair easier to style.
Find out how a weekly hair treatment can help improve the condition in my blog, Salon Know How: Why use a Deep Conditioning Hair Mask?
How do you treat dry, colour-treated hair?
If your colour-treated hair is dry, there’s a reason. For colour treatments to work, they have to open the hair cuticle. That means the protective layer of hair lifts. Once the cuticle lifts, the inner layer of the hair (the cortex) loses moisture. If you have colour-treated hair, you have one thing that you must focus on, keeping your hair hydrated. Moisturised hair retains the colour for longer and looks and feels better.
Here’s how I recommend keeping dry, colour-treated hair hydrated.
- The best shampoo for colour-treated hair is one that gives the hair moisture. Look out for moisturising and hydrating shampoos.
- Use a good quality moisturising conditioner, and use it every time you shampoo your hair. Always towel out excess water before you apply.
- Avoid hot water for washing your hair. Use warm water as this is less drying.
- Every week, use a deep conditioning hair mask to replenish your hair. That is the best way of protecting your colour investment.
- Turn the hairdryer to a cooler setting and always use a moisturising styling product when styling. That will limit the damage from heated styling tools.
How do you treat dry, grey hair?
As we age, our scalp produces less of its natural oils, so grey hair does tend to be drier. The best way to treat grey hair is to follow a good routine of regular cleansing and conditioning.
A weekly hair mask treatment will give grey hair a much-needed moisturising boost.
How often you wash and condition your hair is up to you. You know what’s best for your hair. As a general guide, I recommend 2-3 times a week, but if you need to wash and conditioner more often, then go for it. The thing that hair loves most is routine. Getting into a regular habit of shampooing and conditioning, along with a weekly hair mask, will enable the moisture to build in your hair.
Over time your hair will retain more moisture, and you’ll need less product to maintain moisture retention.
Get more tips on how to look after grey hair in my ultimate guide to grey hair, How to look after Grey Hair: Salon Expert.
How do you treat dry, curly hair?
If you have dry, curly hair, it may feel like frizz is your constant companion.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Treat hair with a weekly hair mask for dry hair.
That will help to smooth the frizz and give you more curl definition.
We use lots of emollients in our Restore and Shine Hair Masque.
Why is that important? Because when it comes to knowing how to moisturise dry hair, it’s vital to know which ingredients will do the job. Emollients are great for smoothing and softening the hair. Here are some of my favourite curl defining ingredients for dry, curly hair.
- Pro-vitamin B5 targets hair damage to reduce split ends and adds shine
- Glycerin attracts moisture while preventing water loss
- Cetearyl Alcohol is a natural fat that conditions hair
- Avocado is a powerhouse ingredient containing vitamins A, D and E to restore health and shine to the hair
- Olive Leaf moisturises and softens hair
- Tocopherol(vitamin E), a superior conditioning agent for hair
Why is my hair dry all of a sudden?
Hair, like our skin, does become drier as we age. If your hair has become suddenly dry, we recommend taking a look at our list of the causes of dry hair at the beginning of this blog. There may be more than one thing that is causing your hair to become dry but identifying the cause is a good place to start. Once you’ve identified possible causes you can start to take action. Take a look at our Do’s and Don’ts for hydrating hair.
What can I do for extremely dry hair?
If the hair is extremely dry, I recommend using a deep conditioner hair mask twice a week for a couple of weeks. That will help give a moisture boost to severely dry hair. After the first two weeks use a hair mask once a week. The thing to remember about hair is that as with skin, it needs regular moisture. A one-off treatment is not enough. Hair takes time to build moisture and getting into a regular routine will help improve the water retention and texture of hair. The trick is a little, often. As your hair builds moisture take note of its looking and feeling. You’ll probably find your hair needs less product over time. Continuing with a regular treatment will help extremely dry hair to be healthy again.
Best Products for Dry Hair
Which is the best shampoo for dry hair?
The best shampoos for dry hair get moisture right into the hair’s core. Check your shampoo and look for ingredients that give the hair moisture. I use pro-vitamin b5 (panthenol) in my shampoo as it’s one of the few ingredients that can get moisture right to the hair’s core. I recommend Hydrate and Shine Shampoo for dry hair. It’s a gentle shampoo formulated to moisturise even the driest of hair types. My best moisturising shampoo for fine, dry hair is Revive and Shine Shampoo. It contains pro-vitamin b5 and volume-boosting baobab to give both body and moisture to fine hair.
What’s the best conditioner for dry hair?
When choosing the best conditioner for dry hair, try to avoid any products that have silicones high up in their list of ingredients. Excessive silicones can be drying for hair. If you’ve ever had the experience of a conditioner that works on your hair for a few months but you notice over time that it’s becoming less effective, it’s not because your hair has got used to the product. That is a common perception. It’s simply that the conditioner wasn’t moisturising enough for your hair in the first place. I recommend Hydrate and Shine Conditioner for dry hair.
Are hair masks good for dry hair?
My knowledge of how to moisturise dry hair has been developed over many years of working with hair. I believe that the deep conditioning hair mask is the most vital product in any hair care routine. But it’s not only about what you use its also how you use it. I recommend regular weekly applications. Little and often works best. For example, Restore and Shine Hair Masque comes in a 200ml jar. Each application should be around 10ml, slightly less for shorter or very fine hair. That means each jar gives you 20 applications.
Leave Restore and Shine Hair Masque on for 10 mins and rinse. If you want to increase the moisture in dry hair, there’s no need to use more product. Leave it on for longer.
Here’s my guide by hair type for how long you can leave Restore and Shine Hair Masque on your hair.
- Fine, dry hair – a maximum of 2 hours
- Coarse, dry hair – you can leave it on from 2 hours to overnight.
- Grey, dry hair – hair tends to be finer as we age, so unless your hair is very coarse, I recommend no more than 2 hours.
- Dry, curly hair – if your hair is curly and thick overnight will be fine. For fine curls, I recommend a couple of hours.
- Dry, colour treated hair -overnight if your hair is thick/coarse. Otherwise, from 2 to 4 hours. Try a plastic cap to add heat intensity to the treatment.
What styling products should I use for dry hair?
Avoid heavy products such as waxes, oils or industrial-strength hairsprays. Anything difficult to wash out will create build-up. Build-up is drying for the hair. Look out for multi-tasking styling products that offer styling protection and moisture.
These are a selection of questions I’ve had about how to moisturise dry hair. If you have questions about how to moisturise dry hair, get in touch at email@example.com.
I’ve summarised the key points below:
How to Moisturise Dry Hair: Takeaways
- Each strand of hair comprises multiple layers. If the cuticle (outer layer) lifts, the inner layer loses moisture, making hair dry.
- You can tell hair is dry when it’s lost its shine, has split ends or breakage, is difficult to style, or the texture feels rough.
- Many things can lift the cuticle to make our hair dry; environment, colour treatments, heated styling, ageing, hormonal changes, diet etc.
- Hydrating hair is simple. Build a good routine of shampooing, conditioning and treating your hair to a weekly hair mask treatment. Hair loves routine. Remember, moisturising dry hair isn’t a quick, one-off fix. It takes time. But it’s worth it, and your dry hair can become healthy, shiny hair.
- Keep heated styling to a minimum, use styling protection and turn down the heat on your hairdryer and in your shower.
- Treat your hair like your skin. Eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet and drink plenty of water.
- Keep your hair mask on for longer to get more moisture, don’t use more product.
- Choose styling products that give the hair moisture and styling protection. Avoid heavy oils, waxes and hairsprays.
About the Author
Over the years, I’ve talked to and helped a lot of customers with dry hair concerns. Additionally, I write about all aspects of healthy hair, from how to stop how to stop frizzy hair to how to get rid of split ends and share expert tips and techniques for looking after all hair types.
I’ve suggested some further reading below. Go to our Healthy Hair Care Blog to find more articles.
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Go my guide on how to repair damaged hair. I cover some frequently asked questions about repairing damaged hair. Plus, I talk about some of the causes of damaged hair along with tips on preventing damage.
How to Stop Frizzy Hair –Tame and Smooth Frizzy Hair
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Argan Oil, rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin E and antioxidants is a hair treatment with proven results. In my experience of developing hair product formulations, argan oil delivers softer, shinier hair.
Ogario London is a salon developed range of natural hair care products. As a niche brand, we are passionate about our hair products and delivering the best results is at the heart of what we do. If you have any questions about our hair products, would like advice on the best products for your hair type, or have another question about how to look after your hair, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org