“Why is my hair so dry?” That is one of the top 5 questions I get asked by curly hair clients.

And when I tell you there are about 100 different reasons your hair feels like tumbleweed blowing through The Sahara Desert, please believe it can be complex and simple all at the same time. There is a root system when it comes to dry hair… genetics, diet, medication, vitamin deficiencies, hair products, environment…. Dry hair may start off as one thing and grow into a conglomeration of many. It is like the domino effect; one thing leads to another and finally you end up shedding uncontrollably. Let’s discuss some of the reasons for dry hair.

Rachel E. Blistein, Founder and CEO of Original Moxie LLC, tells us that dry hair can come from something as simple as improper or inadequate moisturizing routines. “We see hair that is dry both from overuse and underutilization of product,” Blistein explains. “However, if these products are not the best fit for your hair, they may simply sit on the outside of the hair shaft and actually block moisture with dulling build up.” To be clear: yes, conditioner can lead to build-up and dry hair.

“Our experience and conversations with our community shows us that dry hair has often been under-nourished and mis-treated,” says Kate Evans, Creative Director for Curlsmith. “Years of chemical treatments, coloring, heat styling and using harsh synthetic products can strip the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry, brittle and hard to manage.”

Both experts agree: your choice in the products you use play a huge role in your quest to combat dryness.

To treat, you need:

  • to eat a balanced diet
  • to use products containing humectants and oils
  • to toss out the synthethic ingredients
  • to use strengthening protein treatments

“The most extreme dryness occurs in damaged hair that is naturally fine and delicate in texture,” Blistein states. “To treat the dryness, you’ll need to pamper your hair with a balanced diet of vegetable-based proteins, humectants, and oils. These ingredients will help to strengthen and re-build the cuticle and enhance elasticity and moisture retention. Accept that your hair will need both a moisturizer and a sealer to help it retain moisture. Damaged hair also tends to be more prone to frizz, so we recommend a strong, protein-enriched defining product such as Hold Up Defining Serum.”

While Kate informs us that, “feeding your body great nutritious food in conjunction with serving your curls a balanced product diet equals a formula for success. Fall back on the hair straightener, throw away the synthetic products, switch to gentle/natural curly products (like the entire Curlsmith line”> packed with raw ingredients and watch your hair begin to flourish.”

If you fall in the category of low-porosity hair:

Rachel says you need the right moisturizer to effectively penetrate the cuticle of the hair. So, you know by this point I am thinking, great this is going to be a cake walk, there are only 5 million moisturizers to choose from, how does the average curly girl decide which one is best?

Rachel’s steps for finding the right moisturizer

  1. Shampoo to open the hair shaft and ensure that it is not coated with product.

  2. Follow with a rinse-out conditioner to restore any moisture that may have been lost as a result of the cleansing process.

  3. Isolate a small section of damp hair (spray to re-wet if needed”> and apply enough of your moisturizer to thoroughly coat the strand from roots to tip.

  4. If the moisturizer is effectively penetrating your hair, it should feel slippery and smooth on the hair and absorb fully by the time your hair is dry. You should also see enhanced curl definition even before the section is dry.

  5. Repeat this process with all the moisturizers you are testing and go with the one that produces the best result. Whatever your chosen moisturizer, make sure that you keep the hair very damp while styling and work in small sections. The tighter the curl pattern and the denser the hair, the smaller the section.

To sum it up

“We recommend using regular cleansing to open the cuticle and steam and deep conditioning to ensure the hair absorbs as much moisture as possible,” Rachel concludes. “We have seen some serious damage from the repeated use of baking soda and clay, so seek professional advice from a Natural Hair Expert before attempting any DIY treatments involving those two ingredients.”

This article has been updated.