Rodan + Fields / Blog / Pro Tips

Why Is My Hair So Dry and How Can I Hydrate It?

Close-up of the back of a woman's hair, showing thick wavy dry texture. Photo by Paul Siewert.

Ever thought to yourself, why is my hair so dry? If so, you’ve probably also wondered how to hydrate your hair, and what dry hair treatment for brittle hair really looks like.

Luckily, we’ve got all the answers for you, from what dry hair actually is and what dehydrated hair looks like to how to prevent hair from getting dry and how to fix it. Here’s everything you need to know.

Dry Hair: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

So, what is dry hair, anyway? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Dry Hair?

According to dermatologist Dr. Erum N. Ilyas, MD and founder of Ambernoon, there is no hard and fast definition of dry hair, but it typically means a lack of moisture in the hair. “Oftentimes when purchasing hair care products, the term dry hair is lumped together with ‘damaged hair,’” she says.

What does dehydrated hair look like?

Dry, dehydrated is often characterized by a rough texture and a lackluster appearance. It may also be frizzy. “Light reflects poorly from the irregular surface of the strands of hair given the disruption in the cuticle,” Dr. Ilyas says.

She also says that dry hair in a laboratory setting can be analyzed through electron microscopy to evaluate the surface of the hair. “Acoustic testing of the hair rubbing against itself is another method in a laboratory setting to determine dryness as it is an indication of the scales on the surface of the hair rubbing against each other,” she says.

“On your own, the tendency for your hair to tangle easily as well as appear dull and less shiny will also be an indication of hair dehydration.”

What does healthy hair look like?

By contrast, healthy hair is typically silky, smooth, and shiny, but the appearance of healthy hair will depend on your hair’s texture.

Dry Hair Symptoms

If you’re wondering if your hair is dry, you’re probably wondering what symptoms look like. Here’s what t keep in mind.

What are the main symptoms of dry hair?

There are a few symptoms to look out for, according to Dr. Ilyas. “Because the scales on the surface of dry hair lift, as strands of hair come into contact with each other these scales can tangle easily and become somewhat matted,” she says. “Frizziness, lack of shine and luster, and easy breakage can also be symptoms of dry hair.”

What Causes Dry Hair?

Dry hair can be caused by a number of different lifestyle factors including washing your hair too often, using harsh soaps or alcohol, or harsh heat styling products, to name a few. Malnutrition and thyroid issues can also lead to dry hair.

Why is my hair so dry no matter what I do?

If you find that your hair is dry no matter what you do, it may be time for a haircut and a steadfast decision to refrain from lifestyle choices that cause dry hair like overwashing your hair, harsh soaps, and avoiding heat styling products. Over time, your hair should grow back and be much less dry. If you find that your hair is still very dry, it may be worth it to see a dermatologist or hair stylist to get to the bottom of what might be going on.

How to prevent my hair from getting dry

To prevent hair from getting dry, start by avoiding overwashing, harsh soaps, and overusing heat styling products. You can also use hair masks, conditioners, and shampoos aimed toward dry hair.

How Do You Fix Dry Hair?

According to Dr. Ilyas, there are several conditioners aimed toward fixing dry hair.

“In general, they work by maintaining a positive charge to allow them to attach to the negatively charged hair by electrostatic interaction,” she says. “There are conditioners that are designed to be used with shampoos, ones to be used following a shampoo, and others for a deep conditioning effect and a leave-in conditioner variant as well. Often fixing dry hair requires the routine use of a conditioner in one of these forms as well as potentially an overall treatment occasionally with a deep conditioning agent.”

How long does it take to heal dry hair?

Conditioners work upon application due to their positive charge and method of interacting with the hair. “Dry hair itself can restore overall hydration fairly quickly,” says Dr. Ilyas. “However, if the hair is truly damaged, this may be challenging to repair depending on the level of damage. Oftentimes, a routine haircut can help trim and remove the ends of hair that may have become damaged over time.”

What’s the Best Way to Hydrate Your Hair?

The best way to hydrate your hair is to determine the source of your dry hair and address it. “If it is a result of overwashing, reduce the use of shampoos and choose a better conditioning agent,” says Dr. Ilyas. “The frequent exposure to salt water or chlorine may need to be balanced with occasional deep conditioning treatments. Exposure to heat may need to be balanced with the use of a heat protectant to avoid overdrying.”

Does Dry Hair Cause Hair Loss?

Dry hair may not result in hair loss directly but may lead to hair breakage. “This will mean that although the hair grows in normally initially, as it gains length it is prone to breakage making it difficult to attain longer lengths of hair.”

Best products to treat dry hair

Some hair products that can help treat dry hair are available at Rodan + Fields, like our Defrizz Oil Treatment, which protects strands against thermal damage for glossier hair. Additionally, our Densifying Treatment+ helps maintain a healthy scalp and repair damage. Our SMOOTH+ Conditioner is also a great option for dry, damaged hair, and either of our hair Regimens are great for treating dry, damaged hair.

FAQ About Dry Hair Causes and Treatment

Why is my hair so dry after washing it?

If you’re shampooing your hair too often or using a shampoo with sulfates, your hair will get dry—and may get especially dry after you wash it.

Why is my hair dry even though I use conditioner?

If your hair feels dry even though you use conditioner, you may not be fully washing it out, or your hair could simply be very damaged—and in that case, a haircut and giving your hair some time to grow out will help.

Why is my hair all of a sudden dry and frizzy?

If your hair is suddenly dry and frizzy, it likely means it’s dehydrated and you may have entered a more humid climate, causing it to frizz up. If you’re experiencing sudden dryness and frizziness, try washing your hair less often, using sulfate-free hair products, using heat styling tools less often, and even getting a haircut to let it grow out.

Is my hair dry or dehydrated?

If your hair is dry or dehydrated, it probably has a dry texture or lackluster appearance. If it tangles easily or appears dull, that can also be a sign of dry hair.

How can I make my hair soft and silky?

To make your hair soft and silky, hydration is key. Use a hydrating shampoo and conditioner, try out a hair mask, use a hair oil, avoid heat styling products, and get a fresh haircut.

How can I hydrate my hair naturally?

To hydrate your hair naturally, a haircut will help a lot—that way, the damaged hair will be gone and you can avoid using harsh products, tools, and overwashing your hair for healthier, shinier hair.

Does damaged hair still grow?

Yes, damaged hair still grows as long as the follicle has been preserved.

Can drinking water help dry hair?

Yes! While it isn’t the primary defense mechanism against dry and damaged hair, it won’t hurt to drink more water.