8 Causes of Dry Hair, Characteristic and Care Tips

Table Of Contents

From coloring to using heat styling tools to applying harsh chemical substances to our hair, no doubt it becomes dry and brittle.

What makes hair dry
Why is my hair dry

Keeping up with the current hair and beauty trends can have adverse effects, since all these entails using products and heat styling tools that strip off its the essential moisture and nutrients, to keep our tresses looking amazing and lustrous

Dry hair is common among men, women and even children of all ages. Understanding the root causes is vital to take action.

This dryness is a result of moisture escaping from your locks and the scalp not producing sufficient moisture to moisturize and keep your mane lustrous, shiny and vibrant.

Our hair depends on oils that are made in its root, when it becomes limp, lifeless and dry it simply means that it is not getting adequate oils to keep it moisturized and lustrous WebMD.

How to tell if you have dry hair

First things first, damaged and dry hair are two very different things, don’t go out there confusing these two.

Characteristics of dry hair

  • It looks dull, lifeless and limp in appearance.
  • It’s unmanageable
  • Frizzy (the shafts are inconsistently wavy and not aligned properly) making it look untidy.
  • It feels dried out, thick and curly.


The hair shaft is made of cuticles which act as a protective layer and guards it against harsh temperatures or weather.

In healthy hair, the shafts lie imperviously together trapping moisture within the shaft.  When it is subjected to heat styling tools, harsh products, and temperatures, the cuticles peel away and separate causing it to lose its moisture and become dry.  According to Health lineWebMD and Luxy hair this problem is caused by the following:

1. Diet

Healthy hair equals a healthy diet. Taking care of it should be an inside-out job. Don’t focus on how to treat it on the outside only, start from the inside and work your way outwards to get the best results. A well-balanced diet equals healthy hair.

Healthy diet means healthy hair
Healthy and balanced diet

Your diet and nutrition play a very vital role in ensuring you have healthy tresses.

A well-balanced diet composed of sufficient proteins, basic vitamins and minerals are the essential nutrients to keep it healthy, moisturized and lustrous notes Live strong.

Various nutrients and minerals from food are responsible for specific effects in our hair, for instance, according to Live strong:

  • Vitamin A: foods rich in vitamin A are guaranteed to nourish the scalp with moisture as it acts as a perfect lubricant and prevents dryness. Foods rich in vitamin A include: fatty fish such as salmon and vegetables such as Carrots, butternuts, sweet potatoes, and red peppers
  • Vitamin B5: responsible for making hair healthy, shiny as well as repair and grow it in case it is dry or damaged. Foods rich in vitamin B5: nuts, eggs, brown rice, and liver.
  • Protein is responsible for growth, repair, and restoration of dry, brittle hair-to its healthy state. Foods rich in protein: turkey, chicken, eggs, nuts and lean beef.
  • Healthy fats: these are responsible for strengthening hair and giving it a shiny and lustrous look. Foods rich in healthy fatty acids: omega 3 fatty acids; oily fish such as trout and tuna, olive oil, avocado.

However, if you happen to be allergic to any of the above mention foods, consult your physician or dietician to give you the best substitute or alternative.

2. Severe temperatures

Overexposure to hair to extreme temperatures of sun, wind or dry air, strips off its moisture.  This makes it become dull and develop split ends: which could potentially lead to it falling off since it is dehydrated.

3. Constant use of heat styling tools

Heat styling tools such as dryers, curling irons, and strengtheners are responsible for making it brittle and dry especially when they are excessively used.

Heat styling
Use of heat styling tools

Heat styling tools cause it to become dry, brittle and thus develop split ends which easily causes it to break. However, incorporation of protective hairsprays before using heat styling tools can go a long way to protect your it from becoming damaged or dried out by these tools.

Alternatively, you can stop using these tools and embrace its natural texture, sounds crazy, I know! But try it out, and you will thank me later.

4. Over and under washing it 

Excessive shampooing strips off the very basic natural vitamins and nutrients that give it that gorgeous healthy sheen.

Excessive washing
Excessive washing

Again, not-excessive or rather, too little shampooing cause’s product buildup which prevents natural oils from being effectively released to the scalp to moisturize our tresses.

Ideally, wash it two to three times a week is recommended to ensure there is no product build-up and you are not stripping off its essential natural protective oils.

Alternatively, instead of constantly shampooing it, you could simply just wet it and apply conditioner then rinse to get rid of the excess oils and voila! Your natural protective essential oils are intact and it will be shiny and healthy.

Another alternative could be the use of dry hair shampoos which soak up extra oils, add volume and life. And the best part is you don’t have to wet your it, exciting! Right? All you have to do is spray it on your hair, comb it out and presto! All the excess oil is gone, kaput!

5. Chemical-based products 

Chemical curling, straightening or coloring can cause your hair to become dry, brittle and damaged. This is because the products used contain harsh chemical ingredients that penetrate through its shaft, stripping it off of all the essential nutrients and moisture.

Harsh chemicals and products
Harsh chemicals and products

If you must color, curl or straighten it using products, you could opt for organic or natural products in the market.  Consult your hairstylist on which organic products are best for your hair on this transition.

6. Genetic and age 

Your genes may be the reason why you just can’t restore your hair to a perfect, gorgeous state. Sucks, right? Unfortunately, it’s true, if your mother, father, sister, or great, great granddad had dry hair or scalp, it could be the reason why you have it too. You can manage it, but you can’t really do much about it (but, maybe just maybe, one day we will be able to swap genes, then you could pick the ones you like…hmm! wishful thinking)

Age is another contributing factor, the more you age the less natural oils are produced to nourish and moisturize it.

7. Medications

Some medications are responsible for causing thinning and drying of hair. Anti-depressants, some antibiotics, acne medications, chemotherapy, weight loss, and anti-fungal medications have been strongly associated with causing it to become thin and dry notes.

If you are taking any of these medications and are concerned that they are causing it to thin out or become dry, kindly consult your physician to get other alternatives.

8. Health problems

This can be an early sign of other underlying health problems.  Being keen and seek a second opinion from your doctor is highly important if you are concerned about its dryness and the potential causes.

An inappropriate diet, digestion, and absorption, inclusive of other medical problems play a role in causing the hair to become extremely dry.

A well-balanced diet will not only keep you healthy but also prevent drying of hair.

a). Anorexia Nervosa

This is an eating disorder that leads people to lose weight beyond which is considered healthy, resulting in nutritional deficiencies. The condition is generally characterized by dry skin and hair.

b). Hyperparathyroidism

This is an endocrine disorder whereby the parathyroid gland, which is responsible for controlling the use and secretion of calcium, fails to produce adequate parathyroid hormones.  The condition is generally characterized by dry hair and skin, muscle spasms and cramps among others.

c). Hypothyroidism

Dry hair is one of the external symptoms of hypothyroidism; others include fatigue, obesity, and depression among others. The condition is as a result of the thyroid gland failing to produce a sufficient amount of hormone to control body functioning to process proteins and energy.

d). Menkes syndrome a.k.a Menkes kinky hair syndrome or disease

This is a severe disease that results from a genetic defect. This defect causes cells to irregularly absorb copper causing the body to have irregularities in bone structure, skin, hair, blood vessels, and nerve system. Dry hair is one of the minor symptoms of Menkes disease.

Simple dry hair care solutions

  1. Opt for mild shampoos specifically formulated for dry hair, since they contain fewer drying ingredients.
  2. Minimize the number of times you shampoo it, which will ultimately result in reducing the constant use of heat styling tools.
  3. Opt for organic products rather than chemical bases or alcohol-based products.
  4. Always apply a moisturizing conditioner after shampooing it to make your cuticles lie tightly on the hair shaft to prevent loss of moisture and natural oils.
  5. Massage essential oils such as coconut, jojoba or argan oils to replenish moisture.
  6. In case you are concerned that the dryness is a result of an underlying medical condition, seek medical advice from your doctor.
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