Why Is My Hair So Dry? Learn What Causes Dry Hair and How to Treat It

Does your hair feel a bit... straw-like? Dry hair is a common problem that many people experience at some point in their lives. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including environmental conditions, lifestyle choices, and health conditions. 

Understanding the structure of hair and the role of sebum in hair health is essential for effectively treating dry hair. Additionally, knowing the impact of dry hair and implementing preventive measures can help maintain healthy and lustrous locks. 

In this article, we'll explore the causes of dry hair and discuss various treatment options, including over-the-counter solutions, prescription treatments, and natural remedies.

Understanding the Structure of Hair

Hair is made up of several layers, including the cuticle, cortex, and medulla. The outermost layer, known as the cuticle, acts as a protective barrier for the inner layers of the hair.

structure of hair

It consists of overlapping scales that help to prevent damage and lock in moisture. 

The cuticle also plays a crucial role in determining the hair's texture, as tightly packed scales result in smooth hair, while raised scales lead to frizz and roughness.

To find out more about what the hair cuticle is, take a look at our comprehensive guide where we dive into hair anatomy.

damaged cuticle and healthy cuticle icons

Dry hair occurs when the cuticle is damaged or worn down, leading to moisture loss. This can be caused by various factors such as excessive heat styling, chemical treatments, environmental factors, and even genetics.

The Role of Sebum in Hair Health

Sebum is an oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands present in the scalp. It plays a vital role in maintaining the health and appearance of hair. Sebum acts as a natural conditioner, keeping the hair moisturised and preventing it from drying out.

It forms a protective layer over the cuticle, helping to retain moisture and protect the hair from external damage. However, the production of sebum needs to be balanced for optimal hair health. Excessive sebum production can lead to oily hair, making it appear greasy and weighed down. Visit our guide to the causes of greasy hair for more information.

sebum production with normal, oily and dry illustrations
This can be caused by factors such as hormonal imbalances, genetics, and even certain medications. 
On the other hand, inadequate sebum production can result in dry and brittle hair, as the hair lacks the necessary lubrication and moisture.

Striking a balance in sebum production is essential for maintaining healthy and hydrated hair. Regular cleansing of the scalp and hair can help remove excess sebum and prevent buildup.

However, it is important to avoid over-washing, as this can strip the hair of its natural oils and lead to dryness. Using gentle and nourishing hair care products, such as those containing natural oils and moisturising ingredients, can also help maintain the optimal sebum balance and promote overall hair health. 

color wow shampoo

Our Color Security Shampoo is formulated to deliver optimal hair and scalp health for all hair types. Unlike most shampoos that leave residue behind on the hair and scalp, Color Security’s rich lathering, sulfate-free formula, is 100% residue-free ensuring your hair and scalp stay healthy and vibrant.

Why Is My Hair So Dry? Common Causes of Dry Hair

Dry hair is a common issue that many people face, and there are several factors that can contribute to this condition. 

1. Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can have a significant impact on the moisture levels of your hair. Exposure to harsh weather conditions, such as extreme heat or cold, can strip the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle. 

woman tipping her head back in blue swimming pool water

Additionally, excessive sun exposure can cause the hair to become dehydrated and prone to damage. Similarly, spending time in chlorinated swimming pools can also contribute to dryness, as the chlorine can strip away the hair's moisture. 

To find out how to protect your hair from chlorine damage, take a look at our article. 

2. Lifestyle Choices

Your daily habits and lifestyle choices can also play a significant role in the health of your hair. Frequent heat styling, such as using flat irons or curling wands, can cause the hair to become dry and damaged. 

The high temperatures from these styling tools can strip away the hair's natural moisture, leaving it dull and lifeless.

color wow one minute transformation and cult favoriteAll of Color Wow’s styling products contain heat protection so whether you need a hairspray like Cult Favorite or a styling cream like One-Minute Transformation, your hair is always protected from the heat.

Excessive shampooing can also contribute to dryness, as it can strip the hair of its natural oils. Using harsh hair products that contain sulfates and alcohol can further exacerbate the problem.

Additionally, brushing the hair roughly or using the wrong type of brush can cause breakage and lead to dryness.

To improve the overall health of your hair, it is important to make conscious choices. Minimise the use of heat styling tools and opt for heat protectant products when necessary.

dr joe cincotta

Dr Joe Cincotta, Chief Chemist here at Color Wow, says: “Heat protectants found in all Color Wow Formulas (except the shampoo and Dream Filter) prevent thermal degradation of the proteins in your hair from blow drying, flat irons and curling irons.

These heat protectants are an absolute must especially for chemically processed hair.  Thermal degradation of the proteins in your hair will lead to frizz, split ends and eventually breakage.”

Consider reducing the frequency of shampooing and choose sulfate-free and alcohol-free hair products. When brushing your hair, use a wide-toothed comb or a brush specifically designed for detangling to prevent breakage. 

What Does Dry Hair Feel Like?

Physical Changes to Hair

split ends

Dry hair can manifest in various physical changes, such as increased frizziness, split ends, and a lack of shine. The hair may become more difficult to manage and style, and it may feel rough and coarse to the touch.

Addressing dryness can help restore the hair's natural smoothness and shine.

Psychological Effects of Dry Hair

The impact of dry hair extends beyond physical changes and can affect an individual's self-esteem and confidence. Hair is often considered a crucial aspect of a person's appearance, and experiencing dryness and damage can lead to feelings of frustration and self-consciousness. Implementing appropriate treatments can help improve the hair's condition and boost self-confidence. 

How to Treat Dry Hair: From Lifestyle Changes to Product Choices

Dry hair can be caused by various factors, including genetics, environmental conditions, hair care habits, and even underlying health conditions. Treating dry hair often requires a combination of treatments and preventive measures. Here are some lifestyle changes and tips to treat and prevent dry hair:

1. Lifestyle changes

hair straighteners icon1. Reduce Heat Styling

Using hairdryers, straighteners, or curling irons frequently can damage hair. 
If you must use them, use a heat protectant spray and keep them on the lowest heat setting.

hair washing icon2. Avoid Over-Washing

Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of its natural oils, leading to dryness. Depending on your hair type, consider washing it every other day or even less frequently. Take a look at our guide to how to properly wash your hair

color wow money masque3. Deep Conditioning Treatments

Use a deep conditioning hair mask or treatment once a week. This can help restore moisture to the hair.
Chris Appleton’s Money Masque, which is suitable for all hair types, is a great option. 

hair dye icon4. Limit Chemical Treatments

Hair dyes, perms, and relaxers can be harsh on hair. 
If possible, limit the frequency of these treatments or look for gentler alternatives.

hat icon

5. Protect Hair from the Elements

Sun, wind, and cold can all dry out hair. 
Wear a hat when outside for extended periods, especially in extreme conditions.

avocado icon6. Eat a Balanced Diet

Ensure you're getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that promote healthy hair. 
Foods rich in these nutrients include salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and leafy vegetables.

water icon7. Drink Enough Water

Hydration from within can benefit not just your skin but also your hair. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

alcohol free icon8. Avoid Harsh Hair Products

Some products, especially those containing alcohol, can be drying. 
Read the ingredients and opt for products that are free from sulfates, alcohol, and other potentially harmful chemicals.

wide tooth comb icon9. Use a Wide-Toothed Comb

When detangling wet hair, use a wide-toothed comb
or a brush designed for detangling. This can help prevent breakage.
 

scissors icon10. Trim Regularly

Even if you're trying to
grow your hair out, regular trims can help get rid of split ends and prevent further damage.
 

shower icon11. Shower with Cooler Water

Very hot water can strip the hair of its natural oils. Opt for lukewarm showers instead.
 

pillowcase icon12. Sleep on a Silk or Satin Pillowcase

These materials cause less friction than cotton, which can help reduce breakage and dryness.
 

2. Products for dry hair: our top picks

color wow coconut cocktail

Dream Cocktail Coconut-Infused Leave-In Treatment: This leave-in conditioning treatment turns dry, damaged hair to silk in a single blow dry.

Formulated with a proprietary complex of 18-MEA and coconut oil, it restores the damaged outer layer of the cuticle leaving hair hydrated, supple and silky smooth.

color wow money masque

Money Masque: This 3 minute hair mask provides deep hydration for all hair types. It instantly penetrates the hair’s cuticle, and goes deep into the cortex to deliver massive hydration and rich, powerful Mediterranean-derived ingredients. Renowned celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton describes it as a “1-step-prep for super luxe, healthy hair.”

color wow pop and lock

Pop & Lock High Gloss Finish: This glossing serum smooths frizz, seals split ends, prevents color fade, and has UV + heat protection.

The ultra-light, non-greasy formula combines the conditioning benefits of an oil with the shine power of a serum.

color wow one minute transformation

One-Minute Transformation Styling Cream: This styling cream smooths, tames and de-frizzes instantly. Rich in avocado oil and Omega 3 amino acids, these ingredients quickly absorb into your hair, replenishing and restoring hair’s natural moisture balance, depleted by colour chemicals and heat styling. Immediately, your hair strands have renewed suppleness, elasticity and a tighter, smoother, glossy cuticle surface.

color security shampoo

Color Security Shampoo: One rich lathering, sulfate-free, residue-free formula for all hair types.

Unlike most shampoos, every ingredient rinses off for optimal hair and scalp health.


curl wow floetry

Flo-etry Vital Natural Serum: Rich-oil blend serum, formulated specifically for curly hair, moisturises strands from root to tip for instantly plump, plush, juicy curls. No weight or greasy feel!

Remember that everyone's hair is different, and what works for one person might not work for another. It might take some experimentation to find out what's best for your specific hair type and condition. 

If you've tried multiple solutions and nothing seems to help, it might be a good idea to consult with a dermatologist or trichologist. They can provide insights into any underlying conditions that might be causing dryness.

Read more haircare tips and tricks on the Color Wow blog:

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