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Hair care: Why is my hair so dry?

Healthy hair

Do you find yourself asking, why is my hair so dry? Dryness is a common hair care issue that affects many people. When hair is too dry, it feels rough and is prone to frizz. Dryness can even contribute to breakage and hair fall, so it's important to treat it when it occurs if you want to have healthy hair. 

The best way to do this is to look at the factors that are leading to it, and there are a number of common factors that could be causing your hair to feel dry.

Causes of dry hair

Dry hair is an issue that can have many causes. Quite commonly, there is a level of damage present that is leading to the dryness, but even natural hair that isn't damaged and hasn't been chemically treated can present with dryness. Some of the main causes include:
  • Hair dye
  • Bleach
  • Relaxers or perms
  • Heat styling
  • Sun exposure
  • Shampoo selection and usage
  • Porosity
  • Humidity

Damage and dryness

Damage and dryness go hand in hand. Whenever your hair is damaged, you're at an increased risk of suffering from both dryness and frizz. This is because any damage results in the structure of your hair becoming compromised, weakening it and allowing it to lose moisture more readily. It is harder for your hair to maintain the correct amount of moisture if damaged because the cuticle layer meant to seal the hair tends to be rough or broken.

If you've bleached your hair recently, or you dye it regularly, this is likely the predominant cause of your hair dryness. Relaxers and perms can also lead to damage that causes dryness, frizz, and breakages. Damage from chemical treatments can be addressed primarily with protein treatments to restrengthen the structure of the hair, as well as conditioning treatments to stabilise the moisture balance.

Hair repair treatments - See here for some of the best treatments to repair damage to your hair if this is the likely cause of your dryness.

Environmental factors

There are several environmental factors that can lead to dry hair. The sun has the most drastic effect here and too much sun exposure is bad for your hair in the same way that it is bad for your skin and eyes. It is the ultraviolet radiation within sunlight which makes this so, because this kind of radiation directly damages your hair.

Apart from the effects of UV light, the sun also contributes to dryness by heating your hair and causing moisture to be lost indirectly through this mechanism. Salt water and frequent wetting of your hair magnifies this drying effect, making a visit to the beach a significant cause of dryness in hair if you're not careful.

Finally, humidity can have a drying effect on your hair. Dry air leaches moisture from your hair and skin, whereas a very humid environment moistens it. A barrier treatment like a hair serum is the easiest way to reduce the effect of humidity on your hair in situations where the humidity is too low or too high.

Shampoo usage

In addition to factors such as the environment, styling tools, and chemical products, even the way you wash your hair can result in dryness. Shampoos vary widely in terms of how drying they are, and this is directly related to how effective the shampoo is as a cleanser. Stronger products like clarifying shampoos and anti-dandruff shampoos dry out your hair because they strip out more oil and moisture than other milder products.

There is also the possibility that you are washing your hair too often if you experience dryness on a daily basis, especially if your hair begins to feel and look better before the next shampoo, but feels dry again right after washing. Shampooing your hair every day is fine if you have oily hair that needs it, but can be overkill on other hair types.

If you're suffering from dry hair, look at the type of shampoo you're using, as well as how often you use it. Also look at whether you're using a conditioner regularly—for dry hair, a conditioner should always be applied after shampooing to replace the loss of moisture that occurs when you wash your hair.


Porosity refers to how absorbent your hair is. If you have porous hair, this is often the result of damage, but it is possible for your hair to be naturally porous too. In either case, the result is that your hair can't maintain a proper moisture balance because whilst it will readily absorb dyes, conditioners, and other products, porous hair releases it all just as easily.

When porosity is a problem, it is likely to be a significant source of dryness and you will need to look at the condition of your hair. Damage usually leads to some degree of porosity and it can be treated by repairing your hair. It can also be addressed with other treatments that seal the cuticles on your hair surface, or with silicone products like hair serums that coat the hair shaft and act as a barrier against moisture loss.

Whatever the cause of the dryness, it can be addressed and treated once you look at the factors affecting your own hair. Doing so will allow you to use the right products to repair or ease the main causes of dryness and give you back the beautiful hair you really want.

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