Rodan + Fields / Blog / Hair Concerns

Why Is Your Curly Hair So Dry and How Can You Fix It?

Closeup of young woman with curly hair showing texture

If you have curly hair, you may have had a moment where you’ve asked yourself: What do I do about dry, curly hair? After all, the question of how to take care of curly hair is a big one on its own, but when you throw in frizzy curly hair, or dry curly hair, that’s another issue entirely.

Well, we’re here to help: Here’s everything you need to know about why your curly hair is so dry and what to do about it.

Why Is My Curly Hair Dry?

Naturally curly hair may appear drier or with less shine based on a number of factors, according to dermatologist Erum N. Ilyas, MD, Founder of AmberNoon. “A cross-section of a curly hair shaft shows that it has a different shape as it grows.”

Straight hair, on the other hand, has a round hair shaft similar to a tube or straw. “A cross-section of curly hair shows that it can be elliptical or even D-shaped. This allows the hair to bend or curl however it may impact how oil migrates down the hair shaft and how light reflects off the surface,” Dr. Ilyas says.

In other words, there’s a possibility that although your curly hair appears dry, that isn’t actually the case—it could simply be its shape and how the light reflects on it.

What Are the Causes of Dry & Frizzy Curly Hair?

Unless it’s an appearance issue, dry hair is typically the result of dehydration or a decrease in oil coating the surface of the hair shaft. “This can be caused by overwashing, the use of drying shampoos with aggressive surfactants, swimming, or the use of chemical treatments, and the environment. Our hair needs an acidic pH to make it less susceptible to frizz and friction against other hair follicles, which can result in breakage.”

How Do You Fix Dry & Frizzy Hair?

If you’re looking to fix dry and curly hair, it’s important to look at the role that pH plays in our hair care products for protecting our hair from damage, and that can help guide your choice of shampoos and conditioners.

“Look for hair care products that specify they’re for curly hair,” Dr. Ilyas says. “Consider adding hydration, and given the challenges our hair may face on distributing natural oils on its own. Using leave-in conditioners as well as considering the role of other natural oils may help, too.”

How to Rehydrate Curls

According to Dr. Ilyas, curly hair is best managed when it’s still wet. “Once dried, electrostatic charges between hairs can contribute to friction and frizz,” she says. Applying a hydrating curl cream to hair while it’s still wet, or a leave-in conditioner can help with dry, curly hair management.  

How Can You Make Your Curly Hair Soft and Silky?

If you want to make your curly hair soft and silky, you’ll want to look for treatments that are for curly hair specifically. “These tend to consider the role of pH and have hydrating ingredients added,” Dr. Ilyas says.  “Additional use of hydrating products such as leave-in conditioners, detanglers, and hair oils can help protect and coat hair follicles to reduce friction and frizz that can occur after the hair dries.”

Best Products and Moisturizers for Your Dry Curly Hair

If you’re looking for treatment options that can help combat dryness and frizziness in curly hair, start with Rodan + Field’ Define+ Curl Cream. This lightweight cream is specifically formulated for frizzy hair and hydrates, de-frizzes, and adds shine without weighing down curls.

And while it’s less targeted toward curly hair specifically, Rodan + Fields’ SMOOTH+ Regimen can be another great option when you’re looking to combat frizz. It includes a SMOOTH+ Shampoo, which cleanses as it smooths and softens, the SMOOTH+ Conditioner, which works to prevent damage and reduce frizz, and the Defrizz+ Oil Treatment, which targets frizz specifically. All of these products use ingredients like hyaluronic acid, natural extract of rambutan seeds, and natural sugars for soft, non-frizzy hair.

FAQ About Treating Dry Curly Hair

How can I moisturize my dry curly hair naturally?

To moisturize curly hair naturally, use moisture-rich products (like conditioners, leave-in conditioners, or oils). Another idea is to make sure to protect your curls and avoid dehydration at all costs—in other words, don’t use harsh products and go easy on the heat styling products. Also, make sure you’re not washing your hair too much or too little!

Why is my curly hair dry after showering?

If this is happening, you may be using a shampoo that’s too harsh. To ensure that your curly hair stays soft and silky, use a shampoo and conditioner combination that’s targeted toward curly hair specifically, and make sure the ingredients are gentle and nourishing.

How do you hydrate curly hair between washes?

To keep curly hair hydrated between washes, try filling a spray bottle with water and mixing in a little leave-in conditioner. You can spray the mix throughout your hair every day, and once your hair is dry, give it a scrunch with your hands.

How do you moisturize curly hair overnight?

If you want to moisturize your hair overnight, try using a leave-conditioner that’s meant for overnight use. You can also try using a silk pillowcase instead of a cotton one, as it may help with frizzy hair.