Regardless of hair type, dry, brittle hair happens to most of us at some point in our lives. It’s a huge disappointment and can be difficult to deal with if you’ve never dealt with it before. Fortunately, in good health and hydrated hair is possible for everyone, although it requires a bit of troubleshooting and extra TLC. Believe me, learning how to moisturize hair is worth it. No one should have to live with hair that doesn’t look and feel its best!
It turns out there are lots of different reasons why your hair might be drier than usual — everything from genetics to the weather can play a role. But once you’ve found the best treatments and products tailored to your hair type, you’ll be on your way to happy, hydrated hair.
To answer the question of how to moisturize hair, we reached out to a few pros: Devin Graciano, hairstylist and product development manager at golden lockshairstylist and curl expert, April Kayganichand Mane Addicts hairdresser, Brittany Sully. They had a lot to say about the causes of dry hair, as well as how to moisturize hair of any type. Read on for their expert reviews!
Image selected by Belathee Photography.
What causes dry hair?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. According to Kayganich, dry hair can have several causes. Genetics, hormones, and even the environment you live in can all be a factor. And did you know that both dry and humid climates can drain hair of moisture depending on your hair texture or porosity? Yes, we can’t win!
Graciano breaks down the science, citing the hair cuticle as the key player in capturing and sealing in moisture. “Whenever our cuticle layer is exposed to natural and chemical compositions, it affects your hair and often starts to expose or lift layers of our cuticle causing moisture to leak out.”
The use of the wrong products also plays a role. Poor quality ingredients like alcohols or silicones that are not water soluble can contribute to dry and brittle hair. Sully also noted that sun exposure and swimming in chlorinated water can dry out hair.
Newly graying hair can also be a cause of dry hair! You can kiss it or you can dye it, and there are plenty of amazing products out there to keep hair looking healthy, shiny, and smooth regardless. Fortunately, using moisturizing shampoos and masks makes a huge difference with gray hair.
How can we keep our locks and scalp hydrated when air drying hair?
While we love the look of a cool blowout, in the summer heat spending some quality time with your hair dryer seems less than ideal. While we can all agree on giving our locks a break from hot styling tools, Graciano stresses the importance of removing “most of the water with a quick blowout” to support scalp health. . This, she says, strengthens “the hydro and salt bonds in our hair.”
Graciano’s tips for moisturizing (mostly) air-dried hair
- Add a moisturizing leave-in conditioner (for those with unruly or frizz-prone hair, try a few pumps of Goldie Locks Signature Hair Serum on towel-dried hair).
- Comb through or brush for even distribution.
- Gently blow out excess water with a hair dryer on medium-low heat and medium intensity. Focus on the fact that the hair near the scalp is usually dry.
- For those who want to go out on the town looking great with air drying, the trick is to buff the ends of the hair and the front hairline. Focus blow-drying with a round brush on the ends of the hair and around the front hairline while letting everything else dry naturally.
12 expert tips for hydrating hair
Use regular hair masks
Ultra-hydrating hair masks help nourish, hydrate, strengthen and protect hair. “Invest in a moisturizing hair mask that you can supplement in place of your daily conditioner,” says Graciano. She recommends using a mask no more than once a week to help your hair develop a healthier, shinier, and softer texture.
Wet your hair before swimming
If you plan to dip in the pool, Sully reminds us to try to get your hair wet first so it’s already saturated before you get in. This way, they won’t be able to absorb the chlorinated water. Chlorine not only dries out hair, it also affects hair color.
Using Hot Oil Treatments
In general, hot oil treatments are great for your hair, but you’ll definitely want to check them out if you’re dealing with dry hair. Hot oil treatments not only reduce scalp and hair dryness, but they increase hair resilience, reduce frizz and prevent split ends.
Ditch sulfate shampoos
Sulfates can potentially damage hair, stripping it of its natural moisture and protein, causing irritated skin, itching and dryness. Fortunately, most brands today offer sulfate-free options. When it comes to shampoo, Graciano also encourages opting for a protein-free shampoo. “Protein is selfish and prosperous for strengthening your inner hair strands, but it only works good after removing hydration and moisture,” she notes.
Avoid products containing alcohol
Those with curly hair especially want to avoid drying alcohols like isopropyl and ethyl alcohol, warns Kayganich. They can actually cause changes in your curl patterns.
Wear a hat
A simple but effective trick. If you already wear one as part of your skin sun routine, then it’s a win-win. Graciano loves to incorporate hats into her hair protection wardrobe to keep locks hydrated and fresh. “While hair products can provide UV protection, it’s even better to add the accessory of a hat adding a layer of protection.”
Do not over process the hair
Invest in a great stylist if you want to lighten or dye your hair. It’s worth going to a professional who won’t over process and damage your hair. Graciano adds a word of warning: go easy on lightening hair. “For those who persist in going blonde, take it easy and go on a few dates rather than one 8+ hour date in a day.” She notes that the chemicals used in these treatments dehydrate the hair, creating an “escape route for the moisture in your hair.”
Avoid heat styling
We all know that excessive heat styling dries out your hair, but if you can’t live without it, Kayganich recommends investing in a good hair dryer and heat protector.
wet the hair well before adding the styling product
If you’re rocking waves, curls, or coils, Kayganich recommends making sure the hair is saturated with water before you start adding styling products. In her opinion, water is the best thing you can add to curly and wavy hair because that’s where it gets hydrated.
Kayganich explains that since silicones aren’t water-soluble, they simply create the illusion of shiny, healthy hair. They actually coat the hair and need to be washed away with sulfates which, you guessed it, dry out the hair.
Now we know that more people (regardless of their hair type) shouldn’t wash their hair every day. Kayganich points out that those who struggle with dry hair should really only wash it once a week, twice at most. Sully suggests rinsing hair or co-washing between your wash days for a refresh that won’t strip your hair of its natural oils.
Add a leave-in conditioner to your routine
“These products are real heroes for balancing your hair’s pH and ensuring you have a light, protective layer of moisture penetrating your strands throughout the day,” says Graciano.
16 best products to moisturize hair
This post was originally posted on July 14, 2021 and has since been updated.