Your body naturally moisturizes your hair thanks to sebaceous (oil) glands in your scalp, which release sebum. The sebum then makes its way from the scalp to lubricate the rest of your hair strands.
Sometimes this natural moisturizing system may not be effective. You might have underactive oil glands due to genetics or age. Your hair type and length can also disrupt sebum from reaching your hair in a timely manner. Overwashing, overstyling, and treatments can also lead to dry hair.
Once you know your hair type and moisture level, you can treat dry hair at home. Consider the following tips to help you get started.
How to moisturize curly hair
Curly hair is the most susceptible type to dryness. This is because the sebum in your scalp takes longer to make its way to the rest of your curls. Overwashing and overstyling curly hair can make matters worse.
You can treat dry, curly hair with deep moisturizing shampoos and conditioners. Look for plant oils in ingredient lists, such as:
These are known to help seal in moisture. You can also use these oils on their own as a weekly hair mask.
How to moisturize thick and coarse hair
If you’re at the point where your thick hair has gone from dry to coarse, you should consider a deep moisturizing treatment. Shea butter is known to work well for extremely dry hair because of its high fatty acid content and antioxidants.
You can also use a hair mask once a week to restore moisture. Always use heat-protecting spray before using heated tools.
How to moisturize fine hair
Fine hair is less susceptible to natural moisture depletion because sebum has a better chance of working its way through your strands.
If you use hair dye, heated tools, or wash your hair too often, you may find your hair is dry. You can use a shampoo and conditioner that’s lightweight and designed for fine hair.
It’s also best to moisturize the ends of your hair only. Putting conditioner on an already oily scalp will weigh your hair down. Possible natural remedies suitable for fine hair include jojoba and lavender oils.
How to moisturize mature hair
Mature and gray hair tends to be drier because of the natural aging process that slows down sebaceous gland activity.
You can help replenish this loss by using a deep moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, along with a leave-in moisturizing spray. Reducing the amount of times you wash your hair in a given week can also help prevent excess dryness.
How to apply moisturizers in your hair
When using a moisturizing conditioner or mask, you should work the product in the ends of your hair first, and then work your way up to the middle of your strands. You don’t need to apply moisturizer to your scalp unless it’s extremely dry.
You should also apply moisturizer on wet hair only — this allows your strands to properly absorb the product. While you can use some leave-in and daily conditioners each day, stick to using deeper ones once per week.
For best results, leave a hair mask or oils on your hair for up to 20 minutes. Rinse out with cool or lukewarm water only. Don’t wash your hair in hot water, as this will cause more damage and dryness.
Should you put skin moisturizer in your hair?
While there are multi-use products on the market for moisturizing both your skin and your hair, you generally can’t depend on a skin moisturizer for help with dry hair.
You may find that skin lotion is either too light or too oily, depending on the product. Skin lotions won’t necessarily moisturize your hair, but they may tame frizz on the go.
If you find yourself without traditional hair moisturizers, you may be able to use a small amount of skin moisturizer on your ends until you can obtain the right products for your hair.
What causes dry hair?
At its core, dry hair is caused by a lack of sebum. You may be susceptible if you naturally have a drier scalp due to genetics, or if your sebaceous glands are producing less oil due to age and environment.
Curlier and longer hair are also more likely to dry out because sebum takes time to make its way from the scalp to your ends.
Lifestyle factors can also play a large role in dry hair. Repeated use of heated tools, such as hair dryers, curling irons, and flat irons, can weaken the hair’s cuticle, leaving your strands susceptible to damage and moisture loss.
Too many hair treatments, such as straightening and coloring, can weaken the cuticle in the same way.
Dry hair may also be caused by overwashing. As a rule of thumb, you only need to shampoo your hair daily if your hair is dirty or oily. You can use dry shampoo in between washes to help retain moisture.
Dry hair may be improved within one treatment, but it can take several tries to notice significant changes. Lifestyle changes can also maximize your results.
If your hair is still dry despite home treatments, see your stylist for professional product recommendations. You might also consider seeing a dermatologist for advice.