Dry hair is one of the most common hair woes there is, but no less is also one of the most frustrating. It lacks moisture, appears dull, and is prone to frizz and breakage—none of which are particular fun things to have to deal with. However, armed with the right haircare ingredients—along with some at-home tips and tricks—you can help improve your hair’s moisture levels, restore life to your locks and get that natural shine we all crave.
Causes of Dry Hair
There are several, often complex reasons your hair could be dry or prone to dryness. Some hair types, including curly and coily hair, tend to be drier than others, as the hair’s composition makes it harder for natural oils produced by the scalp to travel down the strand. Porosity is a measurement of the hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture, and the natural porosity of your hair will affect how well your hair holds moisture. Highly porous hair has more gaps and openings in the cuticle layer than low porosity hair, allowing moisture to easily pass in and out. Highly porous hair typically dries quickly, is prone to frizz, and can often feel dry.
Other external factors can affect how dry your hair is and feels, including seasonality and the weather, exposure to artificial air and heating, sun exposure, salt water, and air and water pollution (i.e. hard water). Then there’s your routine itself: overwashing, using harsh sulfates and other chemicals in shampoo and conditioner, skipping conditioner, frequent use of heat styling tools, and not regularly using treatments such as masks and leave-in conditioner can all leave your hair feeling less than optimal.
In addition, certain health conditions, nutritional deficiencies, and even certain medications can lead to increased dryness in skin and hair. But don’t stress—there are ways you can counter this in your at-home routine, as well as certain ingredients to look out for when selecting the right products.
Best Ingredients for Dry Hair
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best ingredients for dry hair, due to their benefits for nourishing and improving hydration. Many of these can be found as hero ingredients in MONDAY’s Shampoo and Conditioner formulas, chosen for their ability to restore moisture levels in the hair, among others!
Hyaluronic acid is a powerhouse ingredient that has gained popularity in skincare routines, but its benefits extend to haircare as well. Known for its exceptional moisturizing properties, hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant, attracting and retaining moisture in the hair shaft. This ingredient works wonders for dry hair, making it softer, smoother, and more manageable.
Argan oil is a luxurious ingredient derived from the kernels of the Moroccan argan tree. Packed with essential fatty acids and vitamin E, argan oil is a true elixir for dry, damaged hair. It deeply nourishes and hydrates the hair, promoting elasticity and shine. Additionally, argan oil helps repair split ends and protects the hair from environmental damage.
Shea butter is a natural emollient extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. Its rich and creamy texture makes it an ideal ingredient for combating dryness and frizz. Shea butter seals in moisture, creating a protective barrier that prevents further dehydration. It also contains vitamins A and E, which promote healthy hair growth and repair damaged strands.
Aloe vera has long been cherished for its soothing and healing properties, making it an excellent ingredient for dry hair. Its gel-like substance is packed with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that deeply moisturize the hair, leaving it soft and supple. Aloe vera also has a cooling effect on the scalp, relieving itchiness and irritation.
Coconut oil has been used for centuries as a natural hair conditioner, and for good reason. It penetrates the hair shaft, nourishing it from within and preventing protein loss. Coconut oil’s high content of lauric acid helps retain moisture and provides a protective coating that minimizes damage from styling tools and environmental factors.
Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5)
Panthenol, or pro-vitamin B5, is a haircare ingredient that strengthens and moisturizes dry, brittle hair. It penetrates the hair shaft, adding volume and shine while improving moisture retention. Panthenol also acts as a detangler, making it easier to manage and style dry hair.
Jojoba oil closely resembles the natural oils produced by the scalp, making it an excellent moisturizer for dry hair. It helps regulate the production of sebum, preventing both excessive dryness and greasiness. Jojoba oil also provides nourishment to the hair follicles, promoting healthy growth and reducing breakage.
Other Dry Hair Hacks
In addition to incorporating hydrating ingredients like the ones listed above, there are other ways you can avoid hair from becoming overly dry in your daily routine. Ensure you’re not overwashing hair, or using an overly clarifying or stripping shampoo unless your hair is prone to oil and build-up. Never skip conditioner, even if you get oily roots: be sure to always apply conditioner to your mid-lengths and ends. Regularly treating your hair to a hair mask, and even applying a leave-in conditioner after your regular wash routine can have big benefits.
It also can’t hurt to go easy on the heat styling tools: put down your blow dryer and/or heat wand from time-to-time and let hair dry naturally as much as possible. Limit your exposure to air conditioning and heating, and in summer, protect your hair from sun and salt water with a hat or swimming cap, or apply a mask or leave-in product before going in the water if you swim regularly.
Foods such as fatty fish, seeds such as flaxseed and pumpkin seeds, nuts such as walnuts, cooking oils such as canola and olive oil, and soybeans are all high in omega-3 fatty acids, and as such can help improve moisture levels in your hair and skin. Biotin is another hero vitamin for your diet, and high-biotin foods include eggs, fish, meat, seeds, nuts, and certain vegetables such as sweet potatoes. Fruit and vegetables such as berries, citrus fruits, spinach and avocado also have great benefits for hair and skin.