This is probably one of the most common hair questions we get:
"Why is my hair so dry?"
Unfortunately, many people don't realize that using hair oil on your hair will not fix your dry hair problems – and it can sometimes actually make the problem worse.
As we've discussed in this blog post [HERE], there are a few issues with using oils on the hair when it comes to dryness. Consider this:
Oil can sit on top of the hair strand itself, helping to prevent water from escaping, BUT:
Since this oil sits on top of the hair it can prevent moisture from the air from penetrating into the hair.
It's a balance. As you'll read in the blog post mentioned above, the use of oils on hair will depend a lot on your haircare routine and what you're washing with, if you're drying it with a very hot blow dryer, and whether you're using a conditioner and leave-in conditioner after washing it.
A MUST-DISCUSS: Our stand on silicones.
If you're washing your hair with a shampoo and then a conditioner that both contain silicones (look for "cyclomethicone" and "dimethicone" on the ingredients list – to name a few of the dozens of silicone-derived ingredients out there) then these silicone ingredients are forming a plastic-like film over your hair. This is not anything new, as there are many ingredients that are film-formers – from synthetic to natural – and this is what they're used for. They provide slip, smooth hair, impart shine as the light bounces off your hair strands, and help with detangling and conditioning.
Nothing wrong with that if you're a pro-silicone lover, but we are not.
Instead, we believe it has been proven time and time over, that silicones weigh down the hair and can make it brittle, cause breakage, and prevent the scalp from "breathing" and working its magic. They can be difficult to wash off (if you're not a believer, just ask your hairdresser how long your "hair gloss product" will last on your hair until it is washed off - typically 2-3 months, yes?). Anything that is difficult to wash off your hair cannot be good for it or the health of your scalp.
Besides, why use them in hair products at all when there are perfectly amazing and nourishing plant-based oils that will offer the same result, while at the same time nourishing your hair? (More on oils that penetrate vs seal the hair can be found [HERE])
Okay, let's move on then...
What you're washing YOUR HAIR with IS DRYING YOUR SCALP.
If you're washing your hair with shampoos that have a high-foaming and stripping ability (which includes most of the mainstream shampoos in the market today), then chances are you're overly drying your hair.
Then imagine your scalp, with 2 muscles that you can barely squeeze to feel skin dryness and tightening, vs. 43 muscles in the face. Oh, your scalp gets dry alright! But you just don't feel it as you would on your face.
The gentler the cleanser, the better.
The more you wash your scalp, the more you're removing natural oils from it, drying it out.
The dryer your scalp, the itchier it will get as it tingles and itches so you scratch it, helping it to produce more oils to regenerate the ones lost.
HOW YOU'RE WASHING YOUR HAIR IS DRYING IT OUT.
How often you wash your hair can have an effect on drying it out.
The products that slip down from your scalp through your hair is more than enough to cleanse it. That's all your hair length needs.
This is how wonderful the scalp is – just picture it:
The scalp produces oils. These oils protect the scalp but also are meant to slide all the way down the hair and nourish it, protect it, make it shiny, and feed it.
This process takes time to happen.
But if you're washing your hair daily, this process will never happen, as the oils get washed away with your shampoo.
So if you're washing your hair daily, there will be virtually no way for your hair to be protected, so you may need to put conditioner on your hair AND a leave-in conditioner to protect it.
If you must wash your hair daily, you're better off washing your scalp only, doing it very quickly, and rinsing off immediately.
WHAT THE HAIR NEEDS DAILY TO PREVENT DRYNESS.
You must understand this sciency bit before you aim to fix your hair dryness for good. So just bear with us and READ IT!
Lesson: The hair needs both moisture and hydration to be at its healthiest.
Moisture is important for the outer layer of the hair: The cuticle.
Hydration is important for the inner layers of your hair: The medulla and cortex.
The hair strand is made up of 3 main layers, and each has a reason and a very useful purpose:
The medulla is the innermost part that runs along the centre, like the inside of a pencil (graphite). It absorbs and retains water so it needs this hydration to function properly.
The cortex is a set of long cells that run alongside the medulla and surround it, giving hair its colour and texture. It too needs hydration otherwise you will notice dry, fragile, brittle hair that easily splits into pieces (imagine this empty pencil without graphite, without "reinforcement" – got it?)
The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair, protecting the inner layers. These guys want moisture! Lots of it! Otherwise, there would not be anything to protect the inner layers (the water-loving layers) and the water inside the hair would get evaporated too quickly.
So if you are only washing your hair with shampoo and not conditioning it and putting a leave-in conditioner in it after, you're losing moisture the shower water provided.
From the context of your hair products, here's what it looks like:
Hydration (humectants) will be ingredients like water, glycerin and Aloe vera. They help put water into your hair.
Moisturization, on the other hand, will help seal that water in, so these are your oils, cosmetic butters like shea butter, and waxes. Your hair oils are also listed here.
But as you can see, if your hair is not properly hydrated (waters) then the moisturizers (oils) are just covering up the cuticle, without any water being protected from leaving the hair.
HERE'S WHAT YOUR HAIR WASH ROUTINE SHOULD LOOK LIKE – TO PREVENT DRY HAIR FOR GOOD:
Wash your hair with a very mild shampoo or cleanser. Wash only your scalp and not the hair length, as washing your hair length will remove the oils that it needs to be protected and nourished. Our Nourishing Greens Shampoo Bar is made for finer, oilier hair types, while our Bi-Phase Shampoo Bar is made specifically for more dry, damaged, treated hair, as it has a conditioner on one side and a shampoo on the other.
Condition – if necessary. I personally do not use a conditioner at all unless I'm going swimming and need something to cover my hair up and protect it before I enter a chlorinated pool. I instead use a leave-in conditioner, and it works for me.
Some people prefer to use a conditioner because they have very porous hair, textured/Afro-type hair, or damaged hair. You will need to experiment but I find the next step works well for me.
Leave-in conditioner. I don't skip this step EVER! Leave-in conditioners are exclusively made to protect your hair "from the waist down". This means, not the scalp, but the hair tresses themselves. They protect your hair gently from heat, sun, swimming, combing, curling and blowdrying, and continue nourishing it all day long. They are wonderful, and they help with shine, to prevent frizz and breakage, and make your hair combable and soft!
At this point you can also add a bit of hair oil to the lengths of your hair, as this type of product can help impart more shine and combability as well as protect it from hot styling elements.
Styling products. I personally don't use any of these but if you do, then this is the time you'd apply them. We think that there is such a thing as "overly-loaded hair" that has waaay too many products put on it and that the risk of damage increases with more product buildup.
(Stay tuned for our leave-in conditioner launch! You're going to LOVE this one!)
Note on Afro/textured/Type 4 hair:
If you have this hair type, you may find it best to add your conditioner first before washing it, in order to prevent your hair from absorbing too much water. Textured hair can have a tendency to soak up a ton of water, making it expand, then shrink, then expand again, and so on, causing hygral fatigue that can result in fragile hair. Some people with textured hair love using this pre-poo method, and find that often using a hair oil before washing works great on their gorgeous locks! Learn more about hair types [HERE].
BOTTOM LINE TO PREVENT DRY HAIR:
Wash it gently. Don't wash it daily. Use gentle cleansers. Don't wash your hair, only the scalp.
Use leave-in conditioners daily.
Only then you can apply a hair oil product.
What is your hair like? What kind of issues are you having with your hair? Do you have dry hair and want to fix it once and for all? Comment and let's get you some help!