What causes dry hair

We all know that feeling of having dry hair; running your hands through and it feeling rough, rigid and haystack-like. None of these are ways you want to describe your hair and you’re left demanding, “why is my hair so dry and brittle?!”. If this is you every time you touch your hair, you may even feel guilty as you can’t explain where this dryness comes from.

Luckily, we’re here to help you better understand the causes behind dry hair and a few of the dry hair products you need in your regime.

What casues dry hair

Dry hair causes – why is my hair dry?

There are a few different reasons hair can become dry, coarse or straw-like, but all reasons have a common factor – moisture escaping as a result of damage to the surface of the hair.

Every strand has a protective layer, called the cuticle, that not only protects hair from damage, but helps to hold moisture in so hair’s hydrated, soft and smooth. A bit like the roof of a house protecting the inside from the elements. The roof, or outer layer of hair, can become damaged from external aggressors like weather. Hair damage can be caused by over-styling, exposure to the elements and bad haircare habits. Even poor physical health can take its toll on the condition of hair. These causes the cuticle to lift, allowing moisture to escape, and leaving hair looking and feeling rough.

With healthy hair, the cuticle layer’s flat, not raised, protecting the inner parts of the strand and giving the appearance of that smooth, shiny hair we long for.

Environmental factors

So many things can contribute to dry hair – even the weather plays a role! During summer months, heat and UV levels from the sun peak, put your hair under a lot of strain, pulls the moisture out of your hair and breaks down the pigment in the hair that is necessary to filter the light radiation – especially if you’re spending the summer in hotter climates. It dries your hair and can strongly damage it overtime. And if you frequently swim, the harsh drying effects of chlorine and salty sea water can leave your hair feeling very haystack-like.

Your haircare routine

Damage from chemical styling processes like permanent straightening and colouring, can damage your hair structure and leave it with that dry feeling/looking. Also, the high temperatures of heat styling tools cause your hair to lose water, which leaves it looking and feeling dry. If you pop a drop of water on the hot plate of your straighteners and it’ll sizzle and evaporate – now imagine that frying effect on your poor hair! Blow drying your hair with a high heat setting regularly has the same effect.

Dyeing, bleaching and chemically styling your hair are all process that alter your hair’s structure using chemicals. Over time, these processes weaken your hair, break the pigment of your hair and swell your cuticles, leading to a dry and damaged look and feel.

If you’re not using the right hair products for your hair, this too can have an effect on the appearance of your hair. Some products are specially formulated to deeply nourish and hydrate strands, while others work to give fine, limp hair volume. The latter might not give dry hair the moisture support it needs. You’ll get more out of products that are specially designed to accommodate your hair type and hair needs.

Hair type

Hair types are also playing a big part in the drying process. Curly hair is a type that’s particularly prone to dryness, especially at the ends, because of the natural bends in its structure. The natural oils secreted from your scalp have a much harder time making their way down the hair shaft, so the ends are especially dry.

Also, as we age, our scalps produce fewer natural oils, which in turn leaves your hair drier as the roots are under the scalp. Although you can’t magically stop this process from happening, anticipating this change means you’ll be able to up your hair’s moisture levels to combat this – look for shampoo and conditioner formulas with moisturising agents to support this increased dryness.

Now that you’ve identified the reasons behind your hair’s dryness, keep reading to make the necessary small changes for healthy moisturized hair.

Underlaying health problem

If you feel you’ve taken every possible step to maximise your haircare routine, but you’re still struggling with dry, brittle strands, it might be time to dig a little deeper.

Try talking to your doctor to see if there’s an underlying health problem. If you’re lacking a key nutrient, like calcium, this can cause hair to look and feel drier and weaker. Hormone imbalances can also wreak havoc on the condition of hair. Your doctor’s best placed to identify whether dry, weak hair’s the off-shoot of a larger problem.


How to deal with dry hair


Make sure your shampoo and conditioner are your perfect match

The general rules of thumb here are that finer hair needs lighter ingredients – clear shampoos and foam conditioners to avoid weighing your hair down – while coarse or damaged hair types can absorb nourishment more easily. Every hair type and condition have individual needs, so it’s important you tailor your haircare regime accordingly.

For hair that’s a little bit damaged and exposed to lots of processing (whether heat styling or chemical treatments), you’ll need a formula that helps get your hair condition in check. Our Repair & Protect range of shampoo, conditioner and mask not only works on the signs of visible damage, but delivers nutrients to your hair to offer some protection going forwards.

Dry coloured hair should be treated with products that help to prolong the life of your shade while protection and nourishing your hair – did you know the more you colour your hair, the less able it is to hold on to that colour? Make the most of our Colour Protect range to help keep your coveted shade in place and your hair as healthy as possible.

Dry thinning hair marries well with our Superfood Collection to pack a health-boosting punch – the blend of hair-loving nutrients will help to give your hair a fullness boost.

Meanwhile afro hair has very specific haircare needs, which is why our Gold Series was scientifically formulated by our experts to keep your curls and kinks happy with highly nourishing products from care to styling .

Need a more in-depth explanation? Read our guide on how to choose the right shampoo for you, and the dos and don’ts of deep conditioning, to ensure you’re nailing your routine.

Condition your hair every time you wash

Repeat after us: Conditioner is not optional! Even the finest types need their moisture levels topped up regularly to keep hair healthy. It’s just about choosing a conditioning product that’s right for you and won’t weigh your hair down, or moisture insufficiently, depending on your hair type and texture.

Reach for our 3 Minute Miracle range; each tailored conditioner acts like a deep treatment but can be used with every wash, just like a regular conditioner. That’s the beauty! For a deeper dive into the right formula for you, read our guide to the best conditioner for dry hair.

Cool your heat styling tools

Nobody is saying you have to rush and get rid of your beloved straighteners and curling wands. But it’s worth giving your hair a break every now and then, air drying if you have the time or embracing your natural texture for a day or two.

Remember, when you do use heat styling tools, always use some form of heat protection as our Pantene Gold Series Thermal Heat Protector to shield your strands and turn the temperature down to the cooler setting where possible.

Leave in conditioner? Yes please!

Who said conditioning was just for the shower? There’s no reason you can’t use some form of conditioner for dry hair in between washes. People think that oil leaves hair weighed down and sticky, but dry oil is easily absorbable, non-greasy and will really quench any haystack-like strands. Pop our Smooth & Sleek Dry Oil in your bag for on-the-go moisture top-ups – or even on your non-wash days - to smooth out frizz and moisturise dry ends.

Mask once a week

Just like you’d use a face mask as a treatment step in your skincare routine, there are deep treatment masks out there for your hair. Try our Repair & Protect Deep Repair Masque – use in place of your regular conditioner in the shower and leave on for 2 minutes before rinsing off. Got more time and having a soak in the tub instead? Feel free to leave your mask on for even longer. You will see the difference in your hair’s moisture and shine after just one use!

Protect your hair

You wouldn’t lay in the sun without applying SPF beforehand, so make sure you’re protecting your hair from the elements too. Wear a hat in both summer and winter to shield it from sun damage or harsh, cold winds, and you’ll be preserving your hair health in the long run.

Now you’re much better versed in the causes and treatment of dry hair, we’ve no doubt that you’ll be able to tackle dry and brittle strands going forwards. Remember: Protect and moisturise your hair wherever possible and it’ll really thank you for it.

There you have it, a deep dive into the different shampoos available for your hair concerns and how they can benefit you. Be sure to read our guide on how to shampoo your hair properly to ensure you’re getting the most out of your her shampoo.