The raggedy scratchy ends. The way it flops and sits sadly, devoid of light and love. No matter what your natural type and texture is, nobody is 100% safe from the curse of dry hair. The causes are everywhere, but the key to swooping in and defeating them? It’s simply a matter of TLC, plus working your way around those causes to ensure they inflict as little damage as possible.
But before we get into that, the first step is identifying if your hair needs moisture or strengthening. The symptoms of the two often get mixed up, and hair does need both but at different times - the best way to remember is to picture your hair like an elastic band: as you comb your fingers through it (yes, do it now - we love us some interactive activity), does it feel stretchy, or brittle like it could snap? Hard, weak hair needs a strengthening protein treatment to rebuild and repair, especially if bleached or heat damaged. If hair feels not so brittle, but just lackluster, frazzled and lifeless, then the diagnosis is: dry AF.
Next, as promised, is the causes. “Afro hair is particularly prone to dryness over other hair textures, due to the lack of sebum produced by the scalp,” explains celebrity hair stylist Dionne Smith. It’s worth noting here, too, that due to the coily structure of the hair, oil takes longer to make its way down the lengths and ends than straighter hair. “And heat-styling, bleaching, and also environmental factors like wind, rain, and sun exposure really dry hair out - so while you need regular treatments and hydrating products year round, really amp them up in the summer and winter, and before and after damaging practices” continues Dionne. “Use a heat-protectant always when using blow dryers and straighteners.”
And now on to the TLC. When it comes to dry hair, it’s really an all-around approach to hydrate at every step of your routine. The first culprit is the dreaded SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) (avoid lauryl sulfoacetate sodium, lauroyl isethionate and sodium lauroyl taurate too). Found commonly in washing up liquid, it foams up so satisfyingly but strips oil and moisture from scalp and strands, and is targeted towards the straight-haired hair type that tends to produce more oil. With so many hair-friendly alternatives like sodium coco sulfate - which still has some SLS but is less stripping thanks to coconut fatty acids - in many of the best shampoos for dry hair, there’s no need to go ham on the cleansing. “Also avoid ingredients like mineral oil and petroleum jelly which can clog up the scalp and stop moisture getting into the strands,” advises Dionne.
The next key step is where a lot of the magic happens. If you’re not deep conditioning already, then close the laptop lid, put the phone down, and go slap a hair mask on right now (or your next wash day - no pressure). Deep conditioners are made up of smaller molecules than conditioners - which tend to coat the hair instead - so they penetrate into the hair shaft better. “I’d do a rich, fortifying deep conditioning treatment every 7-10 days,” says Dionne.
And when it comes to styling, our mantra is “hydrate, then seal”. Feed the hair with leave-in conditioners, curl creams, and whatever else you use for definition, then ensure to lock it all in with an oil in that order to ensure the hydration is on the inside, rather than struggling to get past the oil barrier. Be mindful of your hair type, however, warns Dionne. “High-porosity and fine hair can become overburdened with the wrong oil-based products.” Lighter plant oils like jojoba, baobab, argan and grapeseed oils don’t weigh it down, whereas shea, avocado, and olive oils work well with thicker hair. For both hair types, coconut and castor oils work best as treatments rather than for everyday wear due to their heavier structure.
Now that we’ve locked the basics down, it’s time for a personalised approach. Book a consultation with one of our sparkly hair wizards to curate the perfect routine and product prescription that’ll fix all your dry hair woes.
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