15 Products for Dry Hair That Replenish Brittle Strands
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Does your hair feel like straw lately? It might be time to add some moisturizing masks, oils or treatments into your routine. If you don’t know where to begin, we tapped two hairstylists to share their most helpful tips (and best recommendations) for replenishing dry, brittle strands.
Meet the Experts:
- Anthony Cole is a hairstylist and international artist for Sebastian Professional
- Barbara Burke is a curl expert for Ouidad and an artist for LifeSpa in Maryland
First, What Causes Dry Hair?
“There’s a wide range of reasons for dry hair, including chemical damage due to hair coloring, bleaching or lightening. There’s also damage due to styling frequently with hot tools like hairdryers and flat irons. Plus, environmental factors like sun exposure, the heat in your home and air pollution can all lead to drier locks,” explains Cole.
What Are Some Ways to Combat Dry Hair?
Despite the laundry list of factors that can lead to dry hair, there are a few tried-and-true ways to bring back moisture to brittle strands, which are as follows:
- Take care of your scalp: Scalp care is essential to healthy, hydrated hair. To combat dryness, give your scalp the attention it deserves by using a scrub before lathering up with your favorite shampoo in the shower.
- Avoid over-cleansing: “Shampoo as your scalp dictates. The scalp needs to be clean to produce the healthiest hair possible, so be sure that you’re using the proper amount of cleanser for your needs,” Burke notes. (A nickel- or quarter-sized amount of shampoo is typically sufficient for most hair types. Just make sure to apply it to sopping wet strands and take the time to really massage it into your roots, starting at the nape of your neck and making your way to the front.)
- Use hydrating treatments: Whether it’s a hair mask, treatment or serum, add nourishing products to your regular routine.
- Try hair steaming: After washing your hair, Cole recommends hair steaming to condition and combat dryness. Many salons offer this service, but you can also try it right at home. Invest in a handheld steamer or heat up a towel in the microwave for a few minutes and wrap it around your hair for 20 minutes. “The steam raises the hair's cuticle, which allows hydrating products to absorb more fully and deliver moisture more effectively,” explains Cole.
How Do You Find the Best Hair Products for Dry Hair?
Both experts point out a few star ingredients to look out for on labels: hydrating extracts like aloe vera, lemongrass and rosemary, natural oils like argan, castor and avocado oil and butters like shea and murumuru butter. These ingredients are proven to be effective at adding moisture to dry locks. “It’s also very important to not just use protein-based products when treating dry hair. Many people think that protein-based products help with moisture and elasticity, but they actually strengthen your strands. That said, overusing protein can actually cause your hair to become brittle, which is the opposite effect of what you’re intending. You want to use both protein and moisture-based products for optimal results when treating dry hair,” adds Cole.
Now that you’re all caught up on how to take better care of your mane, here are 15 products for dry hair to try now:
Unlike other hair oils, this one is meant to be used before you shampoo (hence, the name). It’s loaded with jojoba, coconut, sunflower seed and sesame seed oil to hydrate and condition dry hair. Apply it to your strands (concentrating on your ends) and leave it on for as little as ten minutes or keep it on overnight for an extra deep conditioning. Shampoo as usual and you’ll notice softer hair that’s easier to manage and style in the morning.
Easily one of the most-buzzed about hair products in the market for years, this treatment is targeted to those of us who are no strangers to bleach or heat styling. According to the brand, it works by "linking broken bonds in your hair," so your strands are gradually being repaired and not just temporarily hydrated. According to five of our editors, it also reduces frizz, adds volume and makes your hair softer.
Does one actually need a scalp scrub? Why yes, it turns out we do. This one has a whipped texture that lathers nicely as you massage it into your scalp. With Himalayan pink salt, cold-pressed moringa oil and unfiltered rose hip oil (this is Gwyneth we’re talking about here, after all), it makes our hair feel shiny and new.
Shampoos and Conditioners
If ‘drench’ is in the name, you can expect your locks to get a hydrating boost. This shampoo promises to cleanse and moisturize dry, frizzy and/or chemically-treated hair using a blend of citric acid and silk proteins. Massage a quarter-sized amount on wet strands to create a rich lather and rinse thoroughly before reaching for a hydrating conditioner.
Conditioner is key to maintaining moisture in your hair and this one by Kristin Ess does exactly that thanks to chia seed oil, proteins and keratin in the formula. Free of sulfates, parabens and phthalates, you don’t have to worry about stripping away your natural oils either. Use it as a daily conditioner or apply it as a treatment mask for intense moisture.
"Gold in a jar" is how one enthusiastic reviewer described this mask (and she's just one of the thousands who swear by it). We did a deeper dive on the ingredients and it packs an impressive cocktail of strengthening keratin proteins and biotin, as well as smoothing argan oil and rose hip oil. Equally impressive is the way it made our hair shine for days afterward.
This co-wash promises a gentle lather, while working overtime to moisturize your dry strands. The oil blend (aka avocado, coconut and sunflower oil) nourishes your hair, while shea butter locks in the moisture and botanical extracts (aka aloe, sage and rosemary) cleanse your scalp. Plus, many reviewers rave about how the creamy texture doesn’t foam or strip your natural oils, which is a major plus for dry hair.
If you need to strengthen your strands, this leave-in cream can help. It’s formulated with castor and black seed oil to condition hair and reduce breakage. According to reviewers, it's a must-have for all hair types but especially for curly hair. “I was using other products and was having major issues with my hair being extra dried out and tangling more. I found this and have been using it for a month and it lives up to the high reviews. My hair is soft, manageable and feels healthy. The scent is strong at first but it does fade nicely. If you're looking for a good way to keep your hair hydrated post-shower, this is the product for you.”
It's like the non-toxic "No more tangles" for adults. Spritz it generously on damp hair (and take a minute to breathe in the beautiful scent). Infused with emollient oils (aka honey and tamanu oil) and flower essences, it makes detangling a breeze and cuts down on frizz without weighing things down.
There are only three ingredients in this majestic serum: sunflower, jasmine and amla oils (all-certified organic, mind you) and that’s all you need to get a more hydrated scalp. Apply a few drops on wet or dry hair, especially on split ends, then watch everything it touches turn to silk.
This styling cream delivers ten (yes, ten) benefits for silky smooth locks. The rich formula consists of caviar extract that smooths hair and adds shine. It also has vitamin C to protect and repair strands—plus protect against UV rays and sun damage. Featuring a blend of marine botanical extracts that moisturize, soften and strengthen strands, there’s not much this CC cream can’t do.
Whether you use it as a conditioner or a leave-in primer, this cream by Ouidad aims to restore and refresh curls. It’s infused with olive oil and shea butter to moisturize the scalp and hair. You’ll also find glycerin to maintain moisture and green tea extract to reduce frizz and breakage.
If you’re searching for a hair oil that’s lightweight and nourishing, this one should definitely be on your radar. It’s packed with safflower, jojoba, rosehip, olive and lavender oil to quench parched strands. Apply a few drops on its own for a soothing scalp treatment or add some into your other styling products to give them an extra boost of hydration.
This oil seeks to combat all your dry hair woes. The key ingredient—honey—nourishes and strengthens weakened hair. You’ll also find coconut and almond oil, which tame frizz, add shine and protect strands against UV damage. Oh, and don’t let internet fame cloud your judgment. We tried the hair oil firsthand, and spoiler alert, it’s worth the buy.
Need a shine boost? Infused with hemisqualane, meadowfoam esters and hibiscus extract, these drops deliver on that front. See, the hemisqualane strengthens hair, while the meadowfoam esters smooth down strands and hibiscus prevents future damage.