My hair is worth its weight in gold. Not because it's particularly perfect — it's not Blake Lively's, after all. But, with the thousands of dollars I've spent dyeing my strands for nearly a decade, they just might be the most expensive part of me. You can bet all those double processes have taken their toll, though. My hair, formerly soft and manageable, has transformed into a thoroughly sad, dry, damaged state. It might look good on the outside, but it sure doesn't feel that way; damaged hair never does. If you have dry, brittle hair you don’t know how to fix, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
It’s not just dryness that’s a sign of trouble. Breakage and shedding are two other major problems that up when your hair is dry or particularly damaged. If you're experiencing those issues along with your hair feeling overall dryer than ever, you'll want to turn to professional hairstylists for help. Luckily, there are a number of solutions out there that can help you give dry, brittle hair the serious love it deserves — no matter how fed up you are with it. To treat your damaged hair or stop the shedding everywhere, read on below for hairstylists' tips on how to fix dry, brittle, straw-like hair.
My hair is full of split ends. Does that mean I have to cut it all off?
In short: pretty much. Mia Emilio, senior stylist at Devachan NYC, tells Elite Daily split ends are just like they sound: broken. The only way to get rid of them is to cut them out of your life. “A split end will continue to split,” Emilio says. “That split end will just continue rising and damaging healthy hair."
Don't think your yearly trims are enough, either. According to Emilio, hair should be cut every three to six months. People with fine, straighter textures might even want to spring for a trim every two months.
Is my hair frizzy because it's dry, or because of something else?
While frizziness isn't always caused my dry hair, dryness and frizz can go hand-in-hand, since hair can become frizzy when it's dehydrated. By infusing moisture back in your hair, you can simultaneously combat frizz, too. Also, be sure to check the labels on your shampoo, as some ingredients can actually do more damage. “Stay away from alcohol, sulfates, silicon,” Emilio says. “They continue to dry out your hair and make you frizzy."
Along with Devacurl's bullsh*t-free No Poo line, I also love the L'Oreal Paris EverPure line and the Verb hydrating shampoo. If you've got dough to spend, try the Kérastase Resistance Thérapiste line.
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Do I really have to stop all heat styling to get rid of dry hair?
Since a lot of hair damage comes from heat, the simplest trick would be to just throw all your heat-styling tools out the window. But if you’re not ready to give up your flatiron, there are still options. “If you're into heat styling, it continues to damage your hair,” warns Emilio. “Keep up with trims, moisturize, deep condition. It helps with the elasticity."
There are plenty of products to combat heat damage — namely, masks for overnight use — that should leave your hair feeling restored. Also, before using any hot tool, you should be sure to use a heat protectant on your hair to prevent added damage.
Will a silk pillowcase actually help keep my hair healthy?
Hair gets caught under our heads and shoulders when we sleep, which leads to tangling and makes it prone to breaking. Research says silk and satin pillowcases tend to be better for your skin than those made out of plain cotton or a man-made fiber. “I love silk pillowcases,” New York hair colorist Stephanie Brown says. “They help keep natural oils and don’t pull hair, so your hair will be more hydrated, smoother, and [with] less tangles.” Bonnets are another solid tool for ensuring your hair stays healthy and in place throughout the night.
What if my roots are super-oily, but my ends are extra-dry?
Oil can build up on your scalp and not your ends, which can create these textural differences. Basically, treat your roots and your ends like two finicky children: Treat each part differently. Emilio suggests cleansing just the scalp with shampoo and leaving conditioner for just your ends, so the part of the shaft that needs hydration the most gets it. The conditioner also acts as a layer of protection for the part of your hair that isn't necessarily dirty and needs the extra dose of moisture.
Overall, though be sure to stay away from ingredients like sulfates. “They can make your oil glands produce more oil,” Emilio says. “They're so much more stripping and your oil glands are like, 'Oh my God, we need to make more oil!'"
Will hair masks help my dry hair all that much?
Brown is a big proponent of hair masks. “These help add moisture, and some are bond builders,” she explains. While Emilio is also a fan, she offers some warnings about them: “Always check for ingredients,” Emilio says. “And stay away from silicon and alcohol."
If you're the type who would much rather DIY than buy, making a hair mask is easier than making a salad — and actually requires similar ingredients. Emilio suggests mixing known hydrating ingredients like avocado and coconut oil together before adding them into your conditioner. "Bananas, eggs — these are things you can mash up and get in your hair," she offers. "A ripe avocado, mixed with egg and coconut oil is great, too."
Not a fan of waiting in the shower until the mask sets? No problem. Just sleep with it overnight and rinse it out in the morning. Just don't forget to wear a shower cap to bed, or you’ll mess up your lovely satin pillowcases.
Is my hair dry because I wash it too much, or not enough?
All those scary articles you might've read about the pitfalls of washing your hair too much are kinda true; that extra 'poo could be doing more harm than good. “If you shampoo every day, you can run the risk of damaging hair,” Brown says. “[Shampooing] can strip your hair of natural oils, so that will dry out your hair, which will cause damage. At the same time, when you shampoo too often, your scalp will then over-produce oil … which leaves hair looking greasy with dry, damaged-looking ends.”
Emilio says you should shampoo two to three times a week, tops. Those with dry hair types could even stick to once a week. However, she suggests you still condition your hair daily or every other day.
What's the deal with using protein treatments on ultra-dry hair?
Protein has become a big buzzword in the beauty world. The word on the street is that your hair needs a bit of extra meaty love from protein-infused styling products, but neither Brown nor Emilio are huge fans. “The reason I don’t like [protein-infused hair products] is because most people don’t know how to use them, and then [they] ruin and break their hair,” Brown says. “Protein is good for your hair, but too much will make your hair brittle and then it will basically start snapping off.” If you do want to try out protein on your hair, though, Brown recommends only using protein-infused products one or twice a month at most.
In short, there is no hair that's not worth saving. I thought my dry, ultra-damaged hair was beyond the point of no return, but with a bit of R&R, it might one day resemble what it looked like before I started coloring it all those years ago. And if not, I can always get a Beyoncé-worthy wig, like Channing Tatum.
Additional reporting by Lexi Williams and Theresa Massony.
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