During a time of year when seemingly every part of your body feels dry, it can be easy to attribute the sudden dullness and breakage in your hair to the environment. But while cold air and a lack of humidity certainly play their part, there’s another culprit that could be to blame: your shampoo.
“Hair can become dry for a variety of reasons, but more often than not, dryness comes down to the ingredients in your shampoo,” says April Kayganich, owner of The Curl Whisperer salon in Austin, and hair-care expert for Puracy. Regardless of the weather, keeping your hair hydrated starts in the shower. To help protect your strands all year round, we asked stylists to round up the best shampoos for dry hair, plus the best practices for keeping it moisturized. Keep scrolling for their intel.
What causes dry hair?
1. Using the wrong shampoo
Selecting the right shampoo is important because if you are using a shampoo that has abrasive detergents in it, it can cause more dryness and also hair breakage,” says Maria Elizabeth, owner of Salon deZEN in Virginia. According to Kayganich, products that have heavy silicones or waxes in them coat your hair, which prevents it from absorbing the moisture it needs to stay soft and shiny.
2. Washing too much (or too little)
When it comes to shampooing your hair, you’ll want to take the Goldilocks approach—doing it too often can be a problem, but so can doing it too infrequently. Overwashing strips the scalp of its oils, but underwashing presents its own set of issues. “Shampoo is a very important element in maintaining moisture in your hair,” says Kayganich. “If your sebaceous glands are being suffocated by heavy waxes or certain ingredients that aren’t healthy for the hair [which tend to build up on your scalp when you use styling products], they aren’t able to produce oils needed to maintain moisture. This typically results in unhealthy strands, because healthy hair depends on the health of your scalp.” She recommends that anyone with straight hair shampoo every two to three days, and those with curly and wavy hair should limit their washing to once a week.
3. Using too much hot water
We’ve long been aware that taking scalding hot showers can do a number on our skin (hint hint: it dries it out), but according to Kayganich, the same goes for your hair. “Water that is too hot can keep your cuticle open which dries the hair,” she says. “Using cooler water will keep the cuticle sealed after you shampoo and condition to promote shine and maintain moisture.” Cold rinse, anyone?
4. Drying improperly
Even if you’re using the best of the best shampoo for dry hair in the shower, it will all be for naught if you don’t dry it properly once you get out. “Instead of going right from the shower to blow-drying, use a microfiber towel to absorb the maximum amount of water, then apply a heat protectant before you begin blow-drying your hair,” says Elizabeth. “This helps to decrease the amount of time heat is on your hair and it also helps protect your hair from the heat of the dryer or any styling tools you may be using.”
What to look for in a shampoo for dry hair
First things first, you’ll want to stay far away from anything that will coat your strands and lock out the moisturizing ingredients it needs from your conditioner and other hydrating products. “Avoid anything that ends in a ‘cone’ in your shampoo because that means it’s a silicone and it’s going to prevent any moisture from getting in your hair,” says Kayganich. “Silicones protect against humidity and seal out anything that can make the hair look frizzy, but while they may give a shine, it’s an artificial feeling that the hair is super healthy because it looks really shiny.”
Instead, look for dryness-fighting ingredients. Elizabeth is a fan of shea butter, because “it’s quickly absorbed by the hair and won’t clog up the hair cuticle or weigh it down,” she says. “Vitamin A helps the elasticity of the hair and also smooths down the cuticle for a fabulous shine.” Kayganich recommends seeking out shampoo with peppermint oil, which she says is “great for stimulating the scalp and giving it a ‘nice and fresh’ feeling.”
The best shampoo for dry hair
“This hardworking shampoo leaves your hair hydrated but not weighed down and absolutely delivers on all its promises,” says Elizabeth, who calls it her “absolute favorite” for fending off hair dryness. It’s made with vegetable proteins and amino acids that strengthen and hydrate the cortex of your strands, and $93 will score you a massive bottle that will last in your shower all year (especially if you’re only washing once a week).
This sulfate-and-silicone-free shampoo will cleanse your scalp without leaving behind any buildup, and Kayganich loves the scalp-stimulating mint in its formula. It’s also made with olive oil-based squalene and natural vegetable oils to infuse your strands with moisture.
Shop now: Puracy Natural Shampoo – Citrus and Mint, $5
3. Hairstory New Wash – Rich, $40
Hairstory’s wash is non-sudsing, and won’t strip your scalp of its natural oils. Plus, it’s so moisturizing, Kayganich notes that you don’t even have to use conditioner with it (though you totally can). It comes in refillable aluminum bottles, so you’ll know you’re doing something good for your hair and the environment at the same time.
Shop now: Hairstory New Wash – Rich, $40
As someone with dry, curly hair, this new scalp-and-strand hydrating shampoo has become a permanent part of my personal routine. It’s made with a coconut-based surfactant and infuses hair with moisture and antioxidants using marula and argan oils.
Shop now: Drunk Elephant Cocomino Glossing Shampoo, $25
For more intel on how to care for your scalp and strands, check out the video below.
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