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Our hair puts up with a lot: we singe it with hot tools, we spritz it with products that strip away moisture, and we color it every eight weeks like clockwork. Plus, there’s that whole getting older thing. “Hair tends to become more coarse and brittle as you age,” notes Rebecca Kazin, MD, an associate director at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and an assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
It’s no wonder our hair feels dry and fragile—but all hope is not lost. These dry hair solutions can help.
Choose the right ingredients
Dry, brittle hair is often parched, so choosing products that infuse it with some much-needed hydration is key. “You want to use products that contain ingredients such as shea butter, olive oil, argan oil, or coconut oil,” says Jonathan De Paca, a stylist at Frederic Fekkai Palm Beach.
4 Hair Products With Hydrating Ingredients
Coconut Oil Hair Mask Conditioner
Organix Moroccan Argan Oil for Dry & Coarse Hair
Regis DESIGNLINE Olive Oil EVOO Leave-In Lite
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Shampoo & Conditioner Set
Avoid ingredients that make dry hair drier
Two ingredients you’ll want to steer clear of in your products: silicones and alcohol, according to De Paca. “Silicones can create a barrier on the hair that basically suffocate strands, not allowing hair to absorb moisture,” he explains, “while alcohol actually dehydrates the hair.” Kazin adds sulfates, which are drying, to that list.
Wash your hair less.
“Try not to wash your hair every day,” says Kazin. “Do it every other day instead to maintain the natural oils in your hair.” If you have any oil at the scalp that you can’t stand, lift strands in sections and spray on some dry shampoo, holding the can 8 to 12 inches away from your scalp to prevent product buildup.
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amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
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Oribe Dry Shampoo Texturizing Spray
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Use shampoo strategically
When you do shampoo, rather than lathering up all over, wash only the roots. “All of the oils are concentrated right there,” notes Kazin, so you can leave the ends alone. Do the opposite with conditioner, saturating thirsty ends with the product while avoiding the scalp.
Mask the problem
To soften coarse strands and add moisture, De Paca recommends using a deep-conditioning hair mask, such as Fekkai Essential Shea Riche Moisture Masque, at least once a week. Apply the mask to your hair, comb it through for even distribution, and put it up in a bun for 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing and styling. For an easy hair mask you can make right in your kitchen, watch the video below.
Shield hair from the elements
Both hot tools and the sun can turn already-dry hair into straw. Protect your hair by wearing a hat whenever you’re outside, or use a spray-on SPF designed for hair, such as Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil and Phyto Plage Protective Sun Veil. Before using hot tools, De Paca recommends always spritzing on a thermal protector spray, such as Oribe Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray and Fekkai Blowout Primer, to prevent breakage. “Also, make sure hair is 100% dry before using a flat iron or curling iron,” he says—otherwise hair can sizzle and fry.
4 Products That Protect Your Hair From Damage
AVEDA Sun Care Protective Hair Veil
PHYTO PHYTOPLAGE Protective Sun Veil
ORIBE Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray
Keep it moving when using hot tools
Lingering in one section for too long can scorch your already vulnerable hair. “One or two passes with a flat iron is enough,” says De Paca. “Anything more than that is just creating more damage to the hair.”
Or take an occasional time-out from hot tools altogether
Give your hair a break by pulling it up into a sleek bun, creating braids, or letting it dry naturally.
Protect your hair before getting it colored
Whether you’re masking gray hair or adding some highlights, chemical processes can damage hair, says De Paca. “I recommend always doing a conditioning treatment at the time of your chemical service,” he says. “When your hair is colored, your cuticle is opened, which is what can cause damage. When you get an in-salon conditioning treatment, you immediately fill the cuticle with moisture and repair the hair.” To keep hair healthy and vibrant post-treatment, De Paca recommends using moisturizing, color-safe products at home.
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