Some individuals are prone to dry hair, either because of a lack of sebum (the natural oils produced by the sebaceous glands in the scalp) or their hair type. Curly hair
, in particular, is often associated with dry hair, because it is difficult for the sebum to be efficiently distributed along the length of the hair shafts. There are also internal causes of some dry hair conditions, such as an inherited tendency towards dry hair or hormonal shifts during pregnancy or the menstrual cycle. In many cases, though, dry hair conditions can occur even among people with normal, combination and even naturally oily hair. Over-processing hair is the most common culprit: Frequent hair coloring can damage the outer cuticle layer of hair, exposing the second layer, the cortex, and allowing loss of moisture. Just the technique of permanent hair coloring can cause dryness, since the process uses such harsh, drying chemicals as ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. The use of hot hair dryers
can also cause loss of hydration. Another major cause of dry hair is frequent washing, particularly with strong shampoos. The environment can also take a toll on hair moisture. Swimming in salt water or high-chlorine pools can contribute to dry hair, as can prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet rays of sunlight.
Choosing the right shampoo can help restore dry hair, providing the emollients to bring back the proper moisture levels and protecting the hair shafts from future loss of hydration. Many moisturizing shampoos include botanical extracts and oils, including (but not limited to) aloe leaf extract, jojoba, borage and olive oils, horsetail (Equisetum arvense) extract, wheat proteins and pomegranate extract. These oils not only help to restore moisture to the inner cortex layer of hair, but provide a protective coating for the hair shafts.
Since many hair care experts recommend that women with dry hair reduce the number of shampoos they take, to prevent contributing to the condition, it is important to find a shampoo with a balance of qualities. Moisturizing shampoos are formulated to clean hair efficiently, but without ingredients that can strip away the natural and applied oils that are necessary to maintaining good moisture levels in hair. These products are also designed to help restore and maintain the proper function of the scalp by keeping the skin tissues moisturized, clearing out pores so sebaceous glands can produce their oils and maintaining a healthy skin cell turnover. Restoring the natural balance between scalp and hair can go a long way to helping improve dry hair conditions over the long term. Many shampoos formulated for dry hair also include ingredients to help screen out the ultraviolet rays of the sun, to help prevent damage from that source.
back to top »
| find answers to your hair care questions »