How can you keep your hair moisturized and healthy looking, even in the summer? Our editors went straight to the experts to get answers to readers’ most frequently asked questions.
Q: So what’s really happening when my hair feels dry?
A: Hair gets dried out in one of two ways. The first is when the scalp isn’t producing enough natural oils to moisturize your hair. This either can be hereditary or is something that happens over time, as generally your hair gets drier as you age. The second is when the condition and structure of your hair causes moisture to escape. When the hair cuticles are compact and overlapping, moisture is retained, making the hair look shiny and healthy. When the cuticles are looser, more moisture and natural oils escape, resulting in dull, weakened hair.
Q: What are the main causes of dry hair?
A: Daily exposure to the elements and chemical treatments contribute to dry hair, but one of the biggest factors is thermal abuse from heat styling tools. Blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, and hot rollers strip hair of its natural moisture with each use. The heat can actually break down the hair structure and the keratin in your hair. Tools that come in direct contact with dry hair like irons and hot rollers can heat up to 400 degrees! Nothing that hot is ever good for your hair.
Q: I don’t want to stop using my styling tools. How can I keep my hair from getting damaged and dry?
A: Thermal protection is key, whether it’s a spray, serum or cream. A quality heat protectant product will also help you style your hair more easily at lower temperatures. If you’re someone who uses their styling tools every single day, try experimenting with hairstyles that don’t need heat, like braids, buns and chignons. Whenever you can, minimize the amount of heat that is applied to your hair.
Q: What’s the best shampoo and conditioner to use?
A: Getting the most out of your shampoo and conditioner is all about quality, not quantity. Most women shampoo their hair far too often, stripping it of the essential oils your scalp needs to stay moisturized. Take two or even three days off between shampoos to let your scalp replenish its natural oils. If your scalp gets too oily, or if your hair looks flat, try a dry shampoo to refresh your roots. You should definitely be using conditioner more often than shampoo. Swap your shampoo for a rinse-out conditioner a couple times a week, and you’ll notice a big difference in how your hair feels.
Q: Is brushing hurting or helping my hair hold moisture?
A: It can help if you do it right. First of all, don’t brush wet hair. It’s delicate and can be more easily torn or broken when wet. Second of all, get a boar bristle brush. People were using them to improve hair texture and shine before conditioners and hair serums even existed. Boar bristles naturally moisturize by coating each hair strand with a very small amount of your sebum (your scalp’s natural oils), repairing your hair, adding shine, and reducing the need to wash it as often. This is definitely the most important brush in your arsenal.
Q: What other ways can I moisturize my hair?
A: If your dry hair is thick, coarse or curly, don’t be afraid to layer your conditioners. Spritz your hair with a mixture of two parts water and one part leave-in conditioner, and then seal it all with a conditioning cream once a week. Also, be sure to eat a healthy hair diet. Eat plenty of B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, lean protein and other hair growth nutrients. Consider a drug-free hair growth supplement like Viviscal Extra Strength so you don’t have to constantly monitor what you eat.
When it comes down to it, be nice to your hair and it will be nice to you. Using fewer chemicals and styling tools will help your hair keep its moisture and your hair will start to look healthier in just a few weeks. Be wary of any product claiming overnight results. Consistency is the only way to get results that last!