10 Reasons Why Your Hair is Dry

I get asked about dry hair A LOT. Natural hair on us black folk doesn't retain moisture well, it must be assisted

By: Roshini Cope

I get asked about dry hair A LOT. Natural hair on us black folk {African Americans* if you’re the P.C. sort} doesn’t retain moisture well, it must be assisted. Generally speaking our scalps make less sebum {oil} than our non-black counterparts, and on top of that {pun intended}, our loopdyloop curls make it hard for that sebum to distribute itself down the hair shaft. By the way, this is also part of why our hair isn’t as shiny. It’s hard out “hair”.

1. You, my friend, don’t drink enough water

You’ve heard it before but it’s worth saying again {to get into that dry head of yours}: you are what you eat drink. Water IS moisture. Drink more water, be more moisturized. If you don’t like water by itself, try adding cucumber, mint or soaking a tea bag in your glass to make it more palatable.

2. You, ma’am, don’t moisturize your hair between styles

Use a spray bottle with a leave-in conditioner at minimum every 3 days, focusing on your ends. If you’re worried that the extra moisture will ruin your style, make sure your hair is sufficiently moisturized BEFORE you put it into the style, and try using a fine mist spray bottle to efficiently distribute the water in a smaller quantity. My spray bottle currently contains about 90% water and 10% leave-in (Sénica Senk or Kinky Curly Knot Today ). Read the comments of this post for more leave-in conditioner suggestions from other readers.

3. You, sir, don’t seal in your moisture

Sealants trap moisture in your hair. If you don’t do this step, all that good moisture will evaporate into the atmosphere and what good is that? None. After I spray my hair I seal {concentrating on the ends} with shea butter and coconut oil mixed {but any light oil will do the trick}.

4. You, miss thang, are using the wrong shampoo

I’m not one to test pH balance and all that {although I bought testing strips eons ago and never used them #fail}, but the basic gist is, if the shampoo is the wrong pH it has great potential to wreak havoc on your hair. The natural pH of hair is between 4 and 4.5 so that is what you aim for. If your shampoo also contains harsh detergents that strip your hair of necessary oils, then you need to switch or consider conditioner washing between your more “drying” clarifying washes.

5. You, missy miss, heat style but don’t do anything extra to compensate for the inherent damage caused

Style your hair how you want to, but be informed of the choices you are making. If you cook a steak you damage the tissues and if you style your hair with heat you damage the hair strands. Period. Heat styling breaks downs bonds in the hair’s structure. That said, if you choose to heat style be sure to bump up all your moisturizing and preventative techniques, and opt to style on the lowest heat setting possible.

6. You, boo boo, are constantly out in the elements and don’t protect your hair

Sun, snow, wind and sleet may not stop the postal service, but it can jack your hair up. If you’ve never consider the beating your hair may be taking due to constantly being in direct contact with the outdoor elements, you may be suffering from dry hair that is entirely preventable with a satin-lined or wide brimmed hat and a protective style or two. Also remember your coats and high-collared shirts can rub against your hair, dry it out and cause breakage.

7. You, pookie, sleep on a cotton pillowcase

Do people still do this? Don’t do this! If you have natural hair you should sleep on satin, either in the form of hair covered with a satin bonnet/scarf, or hair directly on a satin pillowcase. I do both #overachiever. Satin does not wick moisture from your hair and skin like cotton does and it reduces breakage due to the friction created while you sleep.

8. You, p-boogie, have hard water coming out of your shower

Every city has a different quality of water supply. My hair behaves entirely different when washed in Missouri than it does when washed in the Virgin Islands. If you live in a city with hard water {read: high mineral content}, your hair may be coated and drying out because of it. Consider purchasing a filter to put on your shower head for softer hair and skin.

9. You, poops , dyed your hair

Dying your hair works in a similar fashion to heat styling in that it changes the actual physical structure of the hair strands. Same rules apply if your hair has been dyed, ESPECIALLY if the color has been lightened from your natural color. Increase all your moisturizing and preventative techniques and don’t color often if you can help it.<

10. You, Linda Sue, swim with your hair uncovered

They say black folks don’t swim. Seeing that I’m from the Virgin Islands and know plenty of brown people who love them a pool, I call pure bupkis on that theory. The chlorine in pool water and salt in ocean water is drying to anyone’s hair, but especially to hair growing from a scalp that doesn’t make a lot of oil as it is. Wearing a swim cap is best, but if you don’t like that {like myself} at minimum rinse your hair after every swimming session and follow up with a good sealant. Hopefully this post helps give you an idea of where to start on your quest to conquer dry hair.

* Honestly if you’re gonna call me something beyond black I’d prefer “Caribbean American” or “Christian American” or better yet “Stunningly Glamorous You Betta Do It Like You Mean It Girl American”. I’ve only been to Africa once.