How to Moisturize Hair- 28 Tips on Preventing Dryness & Hydrating Hair

How to Moisture

In the summer, you blame dry hair on the sun and heat. In the winter, you think perhaps cold and wind could be the culprits--stripping your hair’s moisture. And when it comes to your dry hair, those factors definitely contribute. But there’s more to understand about dry hair, and many ways to moisturize every type of dry hair so that it feels soft and supple. Here are tips on how to moisturize dry hair from the pros at Matrix!

Why So Dry? The Science Of Dry Hair

There are two basic reasons for dry hair. One is that your scalp doesn’t produce enough natural oil to moisturize your hair. This can be hereditary, or it could be something that happens over time, because as we age, the body’s rate of oil production naturally slows down, leading to dryer skin and of course, dry hair.

It’s also possible that the condition or structure of your hair is causing the moisture to escape, which leads to dry hair. A strand of hair is made up three main segments. At the center is the medulla or core, which is the supporting structure. Surrounding the medulla is the cortex, which forms the middle layer. The cortex gives your hair its shape, resilience, elasticity and curl. 

Surrounding and protecting the cortex is the cuticle. Think of the cuticle structure as overlapping shingles on a roof. When the “shingles” are compact, the hair appears glossy and shiny and moisture cannot escape. When the “shingles” are loosened, hair can appear dull and flyaway, and it’s easier for natural oil and moisture to escape from the inner structure, which leads to weakened and dry hair.

The Causes Of Dry Hair and How To Solve Them

The disturbed cuticle structure that leads to dry hair can be due to a variety of causes. Here are a few, and what you can do to restore moisture to your dry hair:

Thermal Abuse Can Cause Dry Hair. Those blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons and hot rollers that make your hair look so amazing? They’re also a big part of why it might be dry. High temperatures strip strands of their natural moisture, especially in the case of irons and rollers which come in direct contact with dry hair. 

What you can do:

1 Use a thermal protective formula before applying heat. These products provide a barrier between the hair strand and the heat of dryers and irons, which can help protect dry hair from thermal tools.

2 Consider using ionic thermal tools. The makers of these types of products explain that positive and negative ions exist in all substances, and when wet, hair is positively charged. Ionic hair dryers inject the hair with negative ions, allowing water molecules to penetrate deep into the hair. As a result, dry hair is rehydrated.

3 Dial down the heat. Many good quality irons and dryers feature temperature settings. If your hair is dry, select a lower setting. Consider this: water boils at 210 degrees, and some irons and dryers heat up to 450 degrees! A lower heat setting will be much kinder to your dry hair!

4 Take a break from heat. Experiment with hairstyles like braids, buns and chignons that don’t require heat styling and will give your dry hair a rest from moisture-hating thermal tools!

Over Washing and Under Conditioning Can Dry Your Hair

Shampooing with a formula that’s too harsh for your dry hair, or shampooing too frequently, can strip away your hair’s natural oils. On the other hand, you really can’t use too much conditioner—it’s dry hair’s best friend! 

What you can do:

5 Choose a shampoo that’s designed for dry hair. These are usually creamy rather than clear, and they may contain ingredients like aloe vera or apricot kernel oil that help dry hair retain moisture.

6 Skip the daily shampoo. If your hair is dry, it may not be necessary to shampoo every day. Take a day or two off between shampoos and give your scalp’s natural oil a chance to replenish your dry hair. If your hair becomes flat or your scalp gets too oily, try applying a dry shampoo on your roots to refresh and absorb excess oil.

7 Condition your dry hair on the “off” days. Lots of people with dry hair still like the refreshing experience of a head-to-toe shower. In that case, swap out your shampoo for a rinse-out conditioner formulated for dry hair a few days a week! You’ll feel as if you’ve shampooed, and your dry hair will benefit from an extra dose of conditioning!

Exposing Your Hair to Too Much Sun, Wind, Chlorine, Saltwater or Dry Air Can Make It Dry

Playing outside is fun…and healthy…except when it comes to your dry hair. UV rays, harsh or dry conditions and swimming in pools or the ocean can all strip dry hair of precious moisture.

What you can do:

8 Wear a cute hat or scarf over your hair: When you’re in the sun or in harsh environmental conditions, not only do those UV rays cause dry hair, they can also cause your pretty haircolor to fade too quickly! Wearing a protective layer over your hair can keep your hair healthy.

9 Apply UV Protection To Your Hair: If you are going to be in the sun with your hair exposed, look for leave-in sprays that offer UV protection.

10 Waterproof your dry hair: Before taking the plunge into the pool or the sea, coat your hair with a thick conditioning cream or a treatment oil, and cover it with a swim cap.

11 Step up your conditioning routine in harsh weather: Switch to a richer conditioner in cold weather months and add a weekly deep conditioning treatment to your hair care routine. 

Too Many Chemical Treatments Can Cause Dry Hair

Haircolor and highlights--as well as relaxers, perms and chemical smoothers--can all cause healthy hair to become dry hair.

What you can do:

12 Consider Ammonia-free Hair Color: Talk to your stylist about your haircolor options, ammonia-free permanent and demi-permanent formulas, for example, are gentler and better for dry hair. 

13 Try Balayage Hair Color: If your stylist highlights your dry hair, consider a highlighting technique called balayage, in which haircolor or lightener is handpainted only onto the midlengths and ends of your hair. The look is natural and deliberately “rooty,” which means that retouches can be done less frequently, which is healthier for your hair.

14 Explore non-chemical options for straightening your hair: Today, there are many excellent smoothing formulas that can be applied before you style your hair that will prevent frizz and flyaways and add moisture to your dry hair.

Bad Brushes and Bad Brushing Can Cause Dry Hair

Metal brushes or poorly made brushes with uneven, jagged bristles can cause dry hair to tear, which disturbs the hair cuticle and leads to moisture loss.

What you can do:

15 Never brush your hair when it’s wet. Wet hair is delicate and vulnerable and can easily be torn or broken with the bristles of a hairbrush.

16 Use a wide tooth comb: Start at the bottom and gently work your way up to the top to detangle. Treat wet hair to a leave-in conditioner or detangler to help smooth the way.

17 Choose a good boar bristle brush: Boar bristle will gently distribute your natural oils through your dry hair as you brush.

Specific Moisturizing Tips for Your Dry Hair Type

Everybody’s hair is different, and what your dry hair needs might be different from your best friend or sister’s dry hair. Here are some strategies for a variety of hair types.

Moisturizing Tips for Curly Dry Hair

Curly hair tends to be drier than many other types for a very simple, structural reason—because of its twisty shape, it takes longer for oil from the scalp to make its way along the length of the hair strand. Therefore, curly hair needs lots of moisture—more than most other types of hair!


18 Spritz then seal your dry hair with water and conditioner: It stands to reason that water would be good for dry hair…and it is! So try this: fill a spray bottle with two-thirds water and one third moisturizing spray-on conditioner. Mist your hair until its damp but not dripping. Then seal in the first layer of moisture with a rich conditioning cream or oil. 

19 Prime before styling: If you like using a styling or blow-out cream before blow drying, layer it over a leave-in moisturizing formula for double protection and an extra shot of moisture for your dry hair.

20 Take time for a weekly hot oil treatment: It’s easy and relaxing! Simply apply a luxurious treatment oil formula--with ingredients like gardenia, coconut or Tahitian Manoi oil--to your dry hair, and comb through with a wide tooth comb. Cover your hair with a plastic cap and sit in the sun, under a dryer or in a warm room for 20-30 minutes. Relax! Then rinse, shampoo and condition with a rich conditioner.

Moisturizing Tips for Thick, Coarse Dry Hair

Like curly hair, the basic structure of thick, coarse hair often leads to dryness. Again, the volume and shape make it difficult for this hair type to be moisturized by the scalp’s natural oils. Additionally, women with thick, coarse, dry hair often turn to thermal tools or chemical smoothers to control their tress texture, which can also exacerbate dry hair.


21 Support your thermal tools with pre-styling creams and treatment oils: Apply rich styling formulas or oils to your damp hair before blow drying so that you can use a lower temperature setting on your blow dryer. The bonus? Your blow-out will last longer, which means you’ll buy an extra day or two between shampoos.

22 Layer your conditioners: It’s hard to overdo the conditioning with this type of hair. The more moisture for thick, coarse dry hair, the better. So use a rich, rinse-out conditioner after every shower, and follow it up with a moisturizing leave-in spray before styling. Once a week, apply a deep conditioning mask. Allow it to penetrate for five to 15 minutes for a silky, smooth result.

23 Take your vitamins: Daily supplements that are rich in B vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, sulfur, silica, zinc and/or beta-carotene may supplement your diet with the elements that could be causing your hair to feel dry.

Moisturizing Tips for Fine Dry Hair

Fine hair can also become dry, and when it does, the rule is to moisturize with care to avoid weighing down thin strands.


24 Choose a conditioner for fine hair: Conditioning fine, dry hair is important, but the formula you choose should be a lightweight and “rinseable” conditioner for fine, dry hair that won’t settle on your hair and cause it to flatten.

25 Avoid the roots: Fine hair is usually driest on the ends, so focus your conditioner application on the dry areas and skip the roots to avoid weighing them down or causing them to become oily.

Moisturizing Tips for Mature Dry Hair

With age, hormones shift, metabolisms slow down and many women experience hair that becomes thinner and also dryer. What’s more, as hair gray, it often becomes more coarse and wiry, which can also be perceived as dry hair.


26 Use hair color that also conditions dry hair: Many professional salon haircolor formulas are specially formulated for mature, dry hair. They provide extra conditioning and softening as they cover gray hair. Discuss these options with your stylist.

27 Deep condition dry hair overnight: Nighttime facial creams replenish dry complexions, so why not try an overnight hair treatment? Simply apply a rich, conditioning mask or treatment oil to your hair before turning in, cover it with a plastic shower cap and get your beauty sleep. Shampoo and condition your hair in the morning as always. You won’t believe how soft and silky it will feel!

28 Get Frequent Trims: It makes sense—the ends of your hair have been around the longest, so this is the section of each strand that is the driest and most damaged. Frequent trims will keep your hair looking fresh and healthy—and free of dry, split ends!

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