Posted by Nicole on June 25, 2019
Is your hair perpetually dry, brittle, and frizzy? You might think that it is simply your lot in life, but it is possible that the reason that you have dry hair has less to do with genetics and more to do with your hair care routine.
As somebody who grew up with dry hair and only got control of it starting late in high school, this is a subject that I can talk about based on personal experience.
I too thought that there was nothing I could do about my dry hair—that it was simply a curse I had been born with.
But just by reversing my bad hair care habits, I was able to make my hair smooth and silky. Hopefully, if you do the same, you too can have lustrous locks. Following are some common hair care mistakes which can result in dry, brittle hair.
1. You are using the wrong shampoo.
When is the last time you read through the ingredients list on the shampoo that you buy? If you turn over the bottle and check over the ingredients, do you see any sulfates listed? I am talking about ingredients like:
- Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
- Ammonium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate
- Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate
- Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
- Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate
- Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
- Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
- Sodium Laureth, Myreth, or Lauryl Sulfate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
List source: Curly Nikki
Sulfates do a good job cleaning your hair, but they do so at a cost. While they do well removing dirt, they are also extremely effective at stripping oils out of your hair and scalp. Without these natural oils to protect your hair, it becomes dry, brittle and scraggly.
If you have been using a shampoo with harsh sulfates in it, consider switching to one which either contains surfactants which are not as harsh, or which contains no such chemicals at all.
Here is a list of surfactants (detergents) which Curly Nikki writes are not as likely to dry out your hair as the harsh sulfates listed previously:
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine
- Coco Betaine
- Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate or Cocoamphodipropionate
- Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
If you pick a shampoo with chemical ingredients, these might be less damaging. But it is pretty easy these days to find shampoos which are all-natural or close to it, even at a local supermarket. And online, there are a ton of options.
Key Point: Sulfates in shampoos can dry out your hair. Switch to using a shampoo without these harsh chemicals for better results.
2. You are shampooing your hair too often.
Even though avoiding sulfates can prevent excessive dryness when shampooing your hair, any type of shampoo will strip at least some oils away.
That means that if you are shampooing your hair too frequently, you can expect your hair to dry out, even if you are using the right type of shampoo.
How often is "too often?" That depends on your individual hair and scalp. But for most people, washing your hair every day is going to be too much.
Instead, try washing your hair every other day or every third day. In some cases, you might do well washing your hair just once or twice a week.
The only way to find out what will work for you is to experiment. You do need to have some patience with this process while your scalp adjusts. It is not uncommon to experience an initial wave of greasiness. In my experience, this passes after a few weeks.
Key Point: If you shampoo your hair every day, you will probably dry it out regardless of the specific product you are using. Try switching to shampooing it every 2-3 days instead. This can make a huge improvement.
3. You are blow-drying your hair.
For some reason growing up, I got into the habit of blow-drying my hair after every shower. I think I was encouraged to do this by my mother. I had the impression it was simply expected.
So I was utterly shocked one day when I didn’t have my blow-dryer with me on vacation, and found my hair completely transformed after air-drying.
Not only was my hair not nearly as dry and frizzy as usual, but I discovered its entire texture had improved.
Blow-drying your hair on a daily basis is like stepping out into a hot, dry desert wind every day and standing there while it pulls all the moisture out of your tresses. This is especially true if you opt to use the highest setting.
How can you get around this? I suggest only blow-drying your hair when it is necessary for styling, or when you are in a rush. Otherwise, air-dry your hair.
Make sure you apply a protectant before you blow-dry. This will help to lock in moisture, reducing the damage from the blow-dryer.
Key Point: Blow-dry only when necessary, and use a protectant.
4. You aren’t using other heat tools properly.
Like blow-drying, styling your hair using a flat iron or curling iron can lead to your hair drying out. The advice for preventing this is pretty much the same. Try not to overdo it, and go with the lowest heat setting you can get away with. Once again, apply protectant before you style.
Key Point: Curling irons and flat irons also can dry out hair. Use them sparingly, and apply protectant.
5. You aren’t applying any deep conditioner or hair oil.
Do you apply a deep conditioner or hair oil (such as coconut oil) every now and again? If not, you may want to think about doing so once or twice a week.
Just avoiding bad habits involving shampooing or heat styling can go a long way toward keeping your hair hydrated, but rubbing in just a small amount of oil on a regular basis can make it even smoother, shinier and more manageable.
Key Point: If you aren’t applying deep conditioner or hair oil once in a while, you are missing out.
You now know some bad hair habits to avoid if you want to prevent your hair from drying out. To give your hair health an extra boost, think about also taking an herbal supplement for soft, luxurious locks. With just a few changes in your hair care routine, you may see fast and dramatic results!