In the last two years my hair got a gazillion times better, so I though why not share how I did it. Here is a comparison of my hair a few years ago and a picture from the Hair Oil Series, which I posted in January. If you’re wondering why there is such a difference in colour, it’s because it was taken in completely different lights and the bottom third of my hair in the first picture was dyed red-brown. My hair is still far from perfect. The top layers are very dry and it’s very frizzy if I don’t use a lot of products. I’m definitely not a shampoo-plus-two-minutes-of-conditioner kind of girl. You can read about my hair care in these two posts:
I still can’t believe left the house with such hair, but this is how my hair looked during my teens. I avoided heat tools, something I regret because my hair just looked like a mess. I tried every way I could find to do define my natural curls, but truth be told, it never looked that great or at least not for long. My second mistake was using mainly drugstore products. While it’s fine for someone with normal or oily hair, but if your hair is really dry, most drugstore products won’t be nearly enough moisturising for you.
I know there probably aren’t a lot of people with such dry hair, most have more oily hair or at least oily roots and dry ends, but you can still pick up a tip or two. A fair warning this will be a long post.
1. Oils as pre-wash treatment – I cannot stress enough, what a massive difference it makes. Best for dry hair are macadamia, argan, coconut and jojoba oil. Try mixing your own personal blend and if you have a problematic scalp, add a few essential oils like tea tree, rosemary, etc. Apply it generously on your hair, including the scalp. Leave it on for at least an hour (overnight is best) and then continue with your regular routine. Hot oil is even more effective. Put it in a microwave for a few seconds (about 20, careful it can be very hot, in that case leave it to cool until it’s at a temperature you can already tolerate) and apply it on your hair, massaging it into the scalp. You can also wrap your hair with a warm towel or use a hair dryer on a slow setting.
2. Don’t wash your hair too often – washing often will strip your hair of that little natural oil it has and thus making it drier. I believe no one should wash their hair every day, even if your hair is greasy. Invest in a dry shampoo to give yourself at least one more day of presentable hair.
3. Use a moisturising, but foremost a gentle shampoo – Go for a more creamy formula and find something that doesn’t dry out your hair. I’ve tried a gazillion shampoos and here are my favourites: Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (light blue packaging), Orofluido, La Roche Posay Kerium for dry hair, L’occitane repairing shampoo, L’Oreal Everpure Moisture shampoo, Keune Ultra Mild, Garnier Ultra Doux Apricot and Almond shampoo and Kérastase Nutritive Bain Oléo-Relax Smoothing Shampoo. If you think sulphates might be too harsh and irritating for you, find a shampoo that is free of them, however, I’ve had sulphate free and normal shampoos, and both sides have some good shampoos and bad. Some shampoos with sulphates were the most moisturising and gentle I’ve found, particularly the ones from chemists. I used to be very careful about ingredients and I still read them, but since I stopped worrying so much about them (though I still avoid some), I’ve found much better products. For example, Lavera shampoos made my scalp very itchy as did Alverde’s and since I’ve been mostly using shampoos from La Roche Posay this hasn’t happened to me. I would still like to point out that allergy to sulphates is very rare.
4. Baking soda instead cleansing shampoos – cleansing shampoos are a big no-no for me because they make my hair dry as straw. Baking soda is not only cheaper, but also more gentle. It’s odd to use it by itself, because it’s a powder and there is no lather. If you are bothered by that just simply mix it in your shampoo. It will make your hair shiny, lighter and will remove build-up from styling and silicone based products. I keep a 500g box of baking soda, which I got in Eurospin, in my bathroom.
5. Use a conditioner or a hair mask after every washing. Don’t use it just once a week or less. If your hair gets greasy fast use a lighter conditioner only on the ends, but if your hair is dry, use a hair mask (or if it’s not so dry – a really moisturising conditioner) every time you wash your hair. Don’t use drugstore conditioners, because most don’t do anything for dry hair. Go straight for the mask version. Some gems in drugstores are: Dove Oil Care (in my opinion the best), Fructis Oil Repair mask, Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (it’s lighter, but still very good), John Frieda Brilliant Brunette and Aussie 3 Minute Miracle. Slightly more expensive are Redken All Soft and Tigi Dumb Blonde. Have at least two at once, one deep treatment and one lighter conditioner or mask, and alternate between them, depending on the condition of your hair.
6. Invest in a good deep treatment/ hair mask – I’m serious. Spend a bit more on a hair mask and you will see a significant difference. Some good salon ones for very dry hair are: Joico K-Pack Hydrator, Joico Moisture Recovery Treatment Balm, Tigi S-Factor Serious Conditioner and Kérastase Nutritive Masquitense Épais – Thick. Use it every time you feel your hair needs a bit of a boost of moisture. It’s fine if you use a deep treatment more than once a week, in fact, I sometimes use it two times a week or until my hair feels ok again.
7. Leave it on longer than it says – This goes mostly to drugstore treatments that say it works in 1 minute. Honestly how can it have time to work in a minute? Sure certain ingredients do their job instantly, but some need more time to be absorbed or deposited on the hair. Conditioners and treatments do their best in 20-30 minutes. The only exception applies to salon treatments with keratin or proteins. Those should only be left a few minutes. Protein treatment will make your hair stronger, but can get drying it time, so make sure you don’t use it too often.
8. Don’t apply conditioners, hair masks and treatments on soaking wet hair. Soaking wet hair won’t get much benefits from the treatment. Imagine your hair is like a sponge. If it’s full of water it can’t absorb much more, but if your hair is damp or dry the treatment will penetrate into the hair easier. Wrap your hair in a towel for a few minutes before applying hair mask, but don’t, I repeat don’t towel dry them by rubbing, you’ll cause unnecessary damage.
9. I’m not going to say don’t use a hair-dryer – the fact is I’ve been avoiding them my entire life. The reason for that was that every time a hair dresser dried my hair it was dry as a Sahara. But, I learned to dry it myself and it looks better than it ever did. It’s sleeker, looks more healthy and it’s not as knotty. Knottiness can be a big problem for us curly girls with dry hair as it only causes more damage. It is essential to have a good detangling product. Best I find are packed with silicones, but they sure do help a lot. If I let my hair dry naturally it feels a lot drier than if I dry it with a hair dryer. The secrets are to use heat protection, don’t use a high heat setting (I use the lowest or medium), don’t touch your hair with the nozzle because you will torch the cuticle and use a big barrel brush, going just once or twice through each strand. It will make your hair sleeker but not poker straight and won’t be dry.
10. Use heat protection – I can’t stress this enough, but so many people are too lazy to use it. Use it before everything – hair drying, straightening or curling, basically any time there are heat tools involved. I like Tigi S-Factor Heat Defender, because it feels like oil, but there are plenty on the market for different prices. Kérastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique is a great one for dry hair and also works as a leave-in conditioner. I also have Tigi Catwalk Blow Out and Redken Extreme anti-snap for heat protection, and both of these are light enough for someone with normal and I dare say oily hair.
13. Leave-in conditioner is an important step – and often overlooked. A good leave-in treatment will seal the moisture and give that extra boost of hydration. Find one that suits you. I love Sexy Healthy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat Leave In Conditioner as I really notice that my hair stays hydrated longer. I also use Redken extreme anti-snap which is a protein treatment that strengthens the hair and Orofluido Sahara that really helps with the dryness.
14. Silicone oil hybrids – I really like them, they make your hair look more shiny and healthy. For really dry hair, I like Macadamia Healing Oil and Orofluido Beauty Elixir. I wrote more about them in the Introduction to Hair oils Series.
15. I really like to use oils when my hair feels dry. By oils, I mean proper oils, not the ones with silicones. It’s not really important what kind it is, either marketed as a hair oil or a body oil or an oil for cooking (macadamia, coconut,..), there are plenty on the market. These on the picture are the ones I have and I use them for a lot of things, not just hair. I use these when my hair feels really dry and I use those with silicones, when I just need to tame it a bit and I feel pure oil might weight it down (most silicones oils are much lighter compared to pure oils)
16. Invest in a Tangle Teezer or something similar – especially if your hair is really knotty. It makes brushing your hair so much easier and you’ll prevent a lot of damage.
17. I don’t believe in the idea you should use everything from the same line. There could be a good shampoo in one line, but the conditioner is bad. Mix, customize your care, find what suit you best. I’ve found mine, but am still improving it.
18. My take on the whole silicone free thing – there are a lot of people and articles about silicones being bad for your hair. I just hate those annoying reviewers on MUA who write a review along these lines: This has silicones in it and it will only make your hair drier and ruin them”, but they haven’t even tried the product. Come on, don’t make it sound so black and white. First thing you should know is that there are different types of silicones and some do wash off. Naive as I was, I really believed this silicones being really bad business a couple of years ago. I completely cut out silicones and used only natural brands like Lavera, Alverde and the likes. During those years I never noticed any positive change. In fact, I hated it. My hair got worse, drier, more knotty and completely unruly. So no, it didn’t work for me, my hair simply likes silicones. Try it at your own risk. In my experience, my hair got a billion times better when I started using salon brands, but everyone’s hair is different
So this completes my epic post. It sure took a long time to write it and I probably forgot something. I hope this was useful, at least a few tips and thanks for reading.