Has summer’s searing heat cooked your coif to a dull dryness? Or do you struggle with the frizzies all year? Either way, don’t despair. Here are the six most common dry-hair culprits, plus reviving tips from top stylists.
Issue: You worship the sun.
Rx: This one’s an easy fix: Before heading outdoors, either don a hat (Coolibar.com sells stylish sun-blockers!) or spray your tresses with a UVA protectant.
Then, once a week, treat your hair to a deep conditioner or a half-cup of warmed olive oil. First, towel-blot hair until it’s damp. You don’t want to apply conditioning treatments to wet hair -- just as with an oversaturated lawn, “when hair follicles already are filled with water, they cannot absorb conditioners,” says Umberto Savone, Selma Blair’s stylist. Next, apply the conditioner or olive oil. Then wrap your head in a warm towel for 20 minutes. Finally, rinse. You may be tempted to wear a shower cap to bed and keep the conditioner on overnight, but don’t bother; Savone says the treatment loses effectiveness over time.
Issue: You wash your hair too often.
Rx: If your hair is dry, you should shampoo two to three times weekly -- tops. “Overshampooing strips hair of the natural sebum oil your scalp produces,” says Mark Anthony Talavera, owner of Houston’s Mark Anthony Salon. “So massage your scalp as you scrub to stimulate oil glands.”
Look for a pH-balanced shampoo, which will close your cuticles. Then follow up with a light conditioner. If needed, rinse your hair or use a dry shampoo between showers.
Issue: You stage chemical warfare on your hair.
Rx: Gels, mousses, hair sprays and styling creams may keep your mane nicely styled, but many of them contain alcohol as a primary ingredient, which slowly robs your hair of moisture.
Instead, “live with what nature gave you -- and read the ingredients list,” says Talavera. “The first three items constitute 70 to 80 percent of the contents. You want emollients and conditioners and only denatured alcohol, which are less damaging.”
Issue: You fight your hair’s natural impulses with blow-dryers and irons.
Rx: If you can’t air-dry your hair, make a point to cut -- or at least curb -- your drying time. Fine, straight hair needs only 30 seconds per section on high speed, medium heat, says Gregory Patterson, stylist to Anne Hathaway and Janet Jackson at New York City’s Blow. Curly, thick hair needs, at most, a minute per section, starting with medium heat for the first half and high heat for the second. Stop once your hair is warm -- not hot.
And before you switch on the heat, safeguard your hair with leave-in serum and a blow-dry accelerator. Look for soothing ingredients, like aloe vera and rice, soy, milk or almond proteins. “Think creamy,” says Patterson. “And always, always use a dryer nozzle. It closes cuticles, adds shine and stops the heat coil from hitting and frying hair.”
Issue: You’re a water baby.
Rx: Pool chlorine and ocean salt stress your hair, says Talavera. Before taking a dip, seal your hair cuticles with waterproof spray and (sorry!) wear a swim cap. Shampoo right after you get out of the water, and use a chlorine-countering clarifying shampoo once a week.
Issue: You have naturally curly hair.
Rx: Not only is curly hair dryer than straight hair, but the cuticles are rougher, adding to dullness. Restore the glow with polishers -- preferably pigmented ones, because they have less parching peroxide and ammonia, says Talavera. Or hit your kitchen: “Apple cider vinegar makes hair shiny by shutting cuticles,” he says. “Just rinse after shampooing, and your hair will look healthy.”