View Full Version : Trouble shoot my dry hair?

January 21st, 2013, 11:10 PM
I've always had really dry hair - and recently its getting worse.

I used to bleach and straighten my hair, which basically made it fall apart. I cut off the last of my bleached/fried ends in october and haven't been doing any straightening, blow drying, dying, or even hair spraying/gelling/mousing for 2 years. I oil before I shampoo, and I've trained tons of different types of oils. I deep condition weekly. I don't use sulfates or cones anymore. I'm fairly careful with brushing/updos, and not nearly as rough as I should be for having such dry hair. I've been seeing my ends have split ends WITH split ends. I mean, I just had a huge chop and this is virgin hair - why is this happening?

I'm feeling really desperate right now. My hair is around shoulder length and its been this short for the 2 years that I've been chopping off the damage. I feel liike I have made no difference in the quality of my hair sometimes. Its so dry that it is literally CRUNCHY and my friends are shocked when they touch my hair. It feels like wires, it feels nothing like hair. The fact that it is so dry is definitely why it keeps splitting. Even when I cut off the dry ends, the new ends are still dry.

I eat healthy, I drink water and exercise. I have no health problems. I've tried countless of treatments. (Protein makes my hair even worse.) What else may be the cause of this dryness? I feel like I've exhausted all options.

January 21st, 2013, 11:58 PM
Well... I used to have similar problems so I can tell you what I have tried. I only shampoo my hair every 3-4 days and rinse with water only on "off" days (I will use a drop around my hairline too if I'm really greasy but leave the rest alone). Other thoughts you can try are CO washing and it's possible that your hair could just love cones. Some hair loves it some doesn't. My hair doesn't like conditioner at all, doesn't matter what kind. Just keep trying and you will find something that works for you! :grouphug:

January 22nd, 2013, 01:54 AM
Do you use 'cones? It could be that you have a ton of build up and need to clarify - followed by a deep conditioning/moisutre treatment, of course. Build up can make hair feel crunchy and tangly, and it's especially a problem if you use 'cones but no sulphates to strip those 'cones away.

Another possibility is mineral build up. Do you live in a place with hard water? If this is the case, try a chelating shampoo to get rid of that particular build up. Also follow this with a moisture treatment, since it's a very harsh shampoo.

Good luck! I hope other people chip in with more advice.

January 22nd, 2013, 09:57 AM
Well, countless treatments may sound like a lot but... not all products work equally well. And if you've mostly used commercial stuff, you may have accidentally wound up using a lot of similarly formulated products that aren't well suited to dry hair.

Depending on the product line, I usually find the best products for my dry hair are marketed for color treated hair (more common) or curly hair (less common). Products sold as volumizing, for fine hair, for thin hair or for dry hair usually aren't good choices, and stuff sold for long hair (if you find it) is almost never very good. I don't usually use products marketed for "ethnic" hair, largely because I'm looking for specific ingredients, and a lot of the readily available "ethnic" hair care products don't have ingredients that work well in my hair (and some of them have ingredients where I'm not sure they'd work in anyone's hair!). However, I know that in some areas the ethnic hair care products are where stores would stash the sorts of stuff I want. If I'm trying a new product, I spend a *lot* of time reading the ingredients label.

If you can tell us some products that seemed slightly less terrible, that might help us figure out a direction to aim you in.

As far as routine goes, I'm usually pretty loyal to condition wash condition or CWC... I usually wash with diluted shampoo, maybe as often as once a week. I have a lot of fragrance sensitivities, so that dictates my product choices. A SLS shampoo that's fragrance free like Neutrogena T Gel can work tho it's not ideal... I have to dilute it pretty carefully. I also find that sensitive skin body washes like Oil of Olay's fragrance free one or Cetaphil Restoraderm where the ingredients list is pretty bland and the main detergent is milder than SLS work as shampoo. There aren't a lot of curl friendly brands that are also friendly to my allergies and my wallet, but a "low poo" formula would also work. The key here is dilute dilute dilute (to quote the Dr Bonner's bottle). Even a really gentle product is still pretty stripping for my scalp and skin, and I do not need a lot to get clean.

My primary conditioners are Alba Botanica's leave in conditioner and Alaffia's Everyday Shea conditioner. They both have really simple ingredients lists and work equally well on my hair wet or dry. The formulas are a little different, and for me the Everday Shea is a smidge more moisturizing but gives less slip, and the Alba Botanica gives more slip, thus the bothering to use both. If you're not fragrance sensitive like me, there are plenty of other products that are similar to these two.

I'm listing specific products I use so if you like you can look at the ingredients lists and compare to things you've used. While products matter, technique does matter too. If I washed my hair shampoo commercial style with clouds of suds and my hair piled on my head, I'd wind up with really tangled hair and a really stripped scalp. Using a washing technique where I use diluted shampoo and massage the suds into just my scalp and I work with my hair's growth direction means I get less tangles and a less stripped scalp. So even if I'm using a less than ideal product, I can still get decent results by using good technique.

January 22nd, 2013, 10:07 AM
What kind of brushes and combs are you using when detangling your hair?

chen bao jun
January 22nd, 2013, 01:24 PM
Possibly you have low porosity? I do and it can keep you dry. Oiling does me no good--I have to use a heat cap when oilingor the oil does not go in my hair, just sits on top. Use a penetrating oil--coconut and olive are best. If you are crunchy, I would try olive oil or avocado. SMTS are good--I do mine with molasses, instead of honey. I think its the aloe vera in them helps. There are low porosity threads with hints on them, if this is your problem.
Also wondering how coarse your hair is? When you say it feels like wires, I wonder if it might be very coarse. That doesn't usually go with hair that breaks off easily, but check that out too. Perfectly healthy coarse hair STILL never feels actually soft, like finer hair. there is a thread here on moisturizing coarse hair too.
It's possible to be coarse and low porosity (I am both)--its a difficult-to-moisturize combination.

January 22nd, 2013, 02:16 PM
My canopy was always crunchy like that until I started cowashing with a conditioner with dimethicone (a type of silicone that doesn't build up). I recently changed to a different care method for reasons not related to hair condition. On top of cowashing, I would wet oil my ends with castor oil to seal them. This kept them soft and virtually knot free.

Part of what causes my dryness is that I live in a dry environment and have somewhat hard water. I'm not sure if your problem is related to similar stresses?

January 22nd, 2013, 04:05 PM
Maybe it simply takes one more year, like it did for me. Dont give up! And all of the suggestions in the previous postings are good. I can only add that it might be a protein overload also, if your hair feels crunchy. I suggest doing a clarifying wash or with BS and then check the ingredients of your products again. I have quit anything coating like paraffines, stearates or mineral oils. And never use a dull scissor! It will literally cut back your hair care for several months ...

Your hair might like different things today, than a few months ago. Make some small changes, they can go a long way. I also had problems at shoulder length. As soon as it passes this magical length, it might get easier for you too. Keep up the good things!


January 22nd, 2013, 09:22 PM
It's possible to be coarse and low porosity (I am both)--its a difficult-to-moisturize combination.

I think in general low porosity is difficult. My hair gives varying results on porosity tests, and my hair is stupidly fine, so while I'm not 100% sure my hair is low porosity... I'm pretty sure. It's very difficult to apply oil to my hair in an effective way, so mostly I don't even try anymore. It can only absorb very tiny amounts of straight oil at a time, and getting it to apply evenly is tricky, and that's with oils that absorb well like coconut. It usually takes 3-4 days for a tiny fingernail scraping's worth of coconut oil to absorb into my waist length hair. The oil shampoo method works somewhat better, but is awfully fussy between my hair's low porosity, my area's very hard water, and my very dry skin.

While conditioners that are similar to my usuals will absorb ok, a lot of other formulas won't. Still, standing around reading conditioner ingredients is way less work than spending 15-30 minutes fussing with the perfect washing and oiling method every 2 days, so mostly I stick to conditioner.

January 22nd, 2013, 09:29 PM
I stopped using cones 2 months ago, after basically a lifetime of using cones, and I do like it a little better. I'm using the Loreal eversleek deep conditioner and for shampoo I use toadstool soaps shampoo with no sulfates. I like these products more than the others I've tried, so based on these, what recommendations do you guys have for me? I do clarify occasionally btw and I never cut my own hair.

How does one determine the porosity of their hair? Its weird, some parts of my hair are really silky and soft and straight (like 1a) but other parts (most parts) are like 2a waves and course. I thought to myself many times that, maybe its just the way my hair feels? Maybe its actually healthy coarse hair? But I don't think so. My hair feels like its getting damaged just by each strand of really dry hair rubbing against each other.

I live in new york, its not dry. Our water is really amazing and clean. I use wide tooth combs when my hair is like 50% dry and then brush my dry hair with boars bristle. I feel like I'm doing everything right, but with no results :( @cmg, I'm wondering if maybe it has something to do with the fact that its shoulder length and maybe rubs on my shoulders when its down?

@torrilin, thanks for those suggestions. i'm going to look up ingredients and see for myself.

thanks to everyone who replied so far, hope to solve this problem with you all :(

chen bao jun
January 23rd, 2013, 08:05 AM
Porosity has nothing to do with whether your hair is silky or coarse or straight or curly. It's simply how tight the cuticle is on the hair strand. To have low-porosity hair simply means that the cuticles (which are like roof shingles on a roof) are attached so tightly and so closely together that it is difficult for anything to penetrate inside them, oil or water or anything. There are tests that you can do to find out if your hair has this characteristic or not. You can google and find them--the most common one involved floating a strand of hair without product on it in a glass of water. Low porosity hair will basically never sink.
It's not BAD to have low porosity, you just have to work harder to moisturize. Heat helps open the cuticle so that product can get in. I think alkaline things such as baking soda do too, but I'm not sure, so check this out somewhere else. I believe that the natural porosity of your hair can be changed to be higher, basically by destroying it with bleach or dye or heat, but this is a BAD thing. Very high porosity is bad-- things go in easily and go out just as easily and its very fragile. Low porosity is difficult but it is good, once you learn how to handle it. A person cannot make their hair low porosity, from what I understand--you are just born that way. It's usually not a surprise when you find it out, but more of head-smacking moment when you finally understand issues you have been having all your life and why hairdressers said your hair was 'resistant', because that's another good way to describe low porosity hair--its the hair that is most difficult to change from what it is. Ergo, if its straight, its just about impossible to get to be curly and vice versa.
Someone else can correct anything I said that's wrong, I'm sure there are some mistakes here.

January 23rd, 2013, 10:20 AM
Thats weird, i was about to suggest her hair might be highly porous opposed to low. Does the moisture quickly escape your hair, no matter how moisturized you get it from conditioner? High porosity is a common problem for coarse/wavy/curly hair, the cuticle lifts letting the moisture escape easily and making it rough and tangled.


Regarding the 2 hair types, one being silky and the other being coarse, that's also common too. Personally i adjust my hair routine to suit the coarser hair, but being a little wary of heavy oils that might make my hair look lank due to having finer hair thrown in there. That conditioner contains heavy oils, waxes and ceramides (protein like stuff), which can build up a lil causing stiffness. However if its working great for you, then this suggests you like heavy moisture in your routine. Have you tried the regular pink moisture poo and dish from that line? i personally adore it even if it smells like colonge. Shampoo bars can be drying and cause buildup.

is there a sallys nearby? you could clarify and use the gvp version of matrix conditioning balm. on other hair forums i got to, its pretty much the number 1 conditioner advised for anyone having unknown dry hair problems. sallys also does cleansing conditioners that have very similar formula to wen minus the cones. other conditioners being raved are joico intense hydrator/moisture balm, neutrogena triple mega moisture and pureology hydrate (which is expensive stuff, the pink ever sleek is similar in effect for a much cheap price).

January 23rd, 2013, 11:16 AM
I think you might do well to take a break from the boar bristle brush for a while. See how it feels in a week or so of just combing - some hair types really don`t like boar bristle brushes. Especially slightly wavies and curlies should avoid them like the plague. You may even find that you are curlier than you think after being off the bbb for a while.

January 23rd, 2013, 11:50 AM
I second the other posts about first to try clarifying, then chelating if your water is hard. Also too much protein can cause this behaviour I think so maybe avoid products containing protein for a while, also clarifying should help if this is the problem.

Regarding moisturizing stubbornly dry hair, I can describe the solution that I have found. I also had hair that I thought was completely impossible to moisturize, whatever I did or whatever products I tried it was always dry, frizzy, and poofy. (My hair hasnīt had a lot of split ends or breakage though, but I think that may be because I have never bleached or heat styled it). But anyway, what actually finally made my hair much better was stopping using conditioner completely, and to instead start using pure mineral oil as a leave-in on dripping wet hair. It sounds horrible to stop using conditioner, I know, but in my case I think that the conditioner simply coated my hair and made it impossible for moisture to actually get inside (possibly in part due to my hard water). The mineral oil never worked for me on top of conditioner either, even if I rinsed the conditioner out.

So, I shampoo with a diluted non-SLS shampoo, and then simply apply a few drops of pure mineral oil to dripping wet hair (mostly on lengths and very little on the canopy), sealing in the moisture. In my case my hair gets even better (and with that I do not mean only looks better, but actually feels more moisturized and balanced) if I blow-dry it on cool until about half-dry afterwards.

I know that others have better success with mineral oil on damp but not wet hair, as with everything else it is trying what works for you I guess!

I really hope you find a solution! :)

January 23rd, 2013, 02:32 PM
I like how many schools of thought and suggestions there are in this thread. Anyway seconding the advice not to use the boar bristle brush for a while. I adore mine and would love to tell everyone to use one, but it's a well known fact on here that many see great improvements from exclusively using combs.

have you tried hair cholesterol? le kair comes highly rated. another product which i use on my moms afro and my own hair when its ultra dry is organic root stimulator olive oil replenishing conditioner. this stuff will hydrate anything, i mean anything, its best used occasionally or as a pre poo unless you have ultra dry coarse hair. this stuff is so strong it can make hair easily over moisturised, coated and stretchy...

January 23rd, 2013, 05:22 PM
My hair was dry on the ends so I used mineral oil on my ends.

January 23rd, 2013, 10:35 PM
what i did for mine: i stopped doing anything extra for about a week. just combed carefully a lil bit of oil on the ends, and up it went. seven days later, i went back into deep treatments once in a while ( when my hair got really dry, which it does a lot in this weather) mineral oil on lengths/ends, and just my coconut or olive oil on my ends. sometimes its just your hair telling you to slow your roll, im not 100% itll work for you, but my hair goes back to behaving every time i do this. i call it my hair hibernation lol :P

January 24th, 2013, 04:19 PM
@goldloli - I do think my hair has high porosity. Its not low porosity - I can braid it and it will be wavy after only 10 minutes. I'm not really sure what to do about high porosity hair. some of the products you mentioned have protein (ex joico) and I've tried them, only to see my hair become even drier. I want to stay away from protein for a while.Does the hair cholesterol you mentioned have protein in it??

Like I said before, we don't have hard water so I don't think its necessary to chelate. But I definitely will stop using the bbb and I might just stop brushing my hair for a while all together.

I've actually never used mineral oil in my hair .... I'm trying this as I type lol. I used to use a lot of coconut oil but I stopped because I wanted to experiment with other oils (I've tried olive, avocado, grape see, apricot kernel, sesame seed, almond, sweet almond, jojoba, and castor oil but none of them really make too much of a difference.) I might just go back to coconut oil since it smells the best. Do Indian oils work well for dry hair?

January 25th, 2013, 02:51 PM
Thirstylocks, I use Vatika coconut oil (it is blended with mineral oil) on my dry ends and it helps me a lot. Keep persisting and you will find what works for you! :)

January 25th, 2013, 03:16 PM
I second the suggestions above to quit using the BBB, at least for a while. When I want to 'brush' my hair, I use a Tangle Teezer, which I highly recommend. I still use conditioner after shampooing, (actually I CWC but I never, ever let the conditioner touch my scalp) but I rinse it out thoroughly. Then, while my hair is still dripping wet, I apply a few drops of baby/mineral oil to the last few inches, concentrating on the ends. I used to have very crunchy ends, stiff and split prone, but now they're soft and healthy. Good luck.

January 25th, 2013, 08:31 PM
i second the vatika! even though my hair doesnt care for much protein, if you're experiencing porosity issues, protein can help. using as a pre wash has been the best method for me, to avoid any crunchiness.

@goldloli - I do think my hair has high porosity. Its not low porosity - I can braid it and it will be wavy after only 10 minutes. I'm not really sure what to do about high porosity hair. some of the products you mentioned have protein (ex joico) and I've tried them, only to see my hair become even drier. I want to stay away from protein for a while.Does the hair cholesterol you mentioned have protein in it??

the gvp balm doesnt have protein :) ahh well i never use joico on a regular basis but they are always rec'd on 2 other forums i go on. ren and hair one cleansing conditioners only have weak non keratin proteins. personally ive been having great success with the everpure moisture pink poo and dish, seriously why has nobody tried these??? people rave about the nourishing one, yet i found it gave less moisture/shine and gave more stiffness to strands. im trying to think of other inexpensive products. have you tried cg products?

theres goldwell deep conditioners, roux porosity control, john master citrus and neroli detangler etc etc. the world of hydrating conditioners is pretty big these days, and if you're looking for products id say come lurk on makeupalley hair board or naturally curly.

one again im going to rave here about how a blob of castor oil added to a regular moisturising dish made my hair perfectly hydrated, bouncy, shiny and frizz free... even when i heat styled every day.

January 25th, 2013, 09:58 PM
My first thought was: maybe your hair is wavier than you thought. My hair is perfectly healthy but it will feel soft or rough depending on how I dried it and whether or not I brushed it.
Do we have a proper hair-typing pic, air drying with no brushing and no touching?

January 26th, 2013, 05:51 PM
Okay, so this is how my hair looks. It is actually WAYYY more shiny/healthy looking/wavier than usual. I slept with mineral oil in my hair for the first time and washed it out, so maybe that helped!! It still feels really dry and like hay.


January 26th, 2013, 06:11 PM
I've had dry, crunchy ends for awhile. I clarified and then did a Regis Designline hydrating balm treatment on it yesterday, and the difference is so dramatic. My ends feel like hair again! Oh fraptuous day!

January 26th, 2013, 06:23 PM
Your hair looks great in the picture, just a few random hairs that dried outside your wave pattern.

How are you drying it? I have really good results with wet-setting my hair. Which is basically getting my soaking-wet hair into the position that I want to dry it in - there are a few choices there, like magnetic rollers, or a bun, or wrapping it, or plopping it, or pin curls - and then leaving it completely still until it's completely dry. If I dry my hair like that, then my hair will be absolutely soft and shiny. I have a hooded dryer to help me out with this process - it dries my hair with very low heat, like 100-110F.

If I let my hair dry on its own, then I'll have random hairs that want to go and do their own thing separate from the rest of my hair, and when all hairs are on a different wavelength that makes the hair feel rougher and look less shiny. My ends feel completely different with air-dried hair vs. wet-set hair.

I guess what I'm saying is that your hair might be perfectly healthy, just in need of a different drying method to bring out shine that's already there? It's worth a try anyway. A lot of salons can do a roller-set for you on large magnetic rollers, dried with low heat - that would be a good way to test this theory.

January 26th, 2013, 06:31 PM
@spidermom where can i find regis products??

@jaine - Thanks! it seems like we have REALLY similar hair?? you are so right, i slept with my hair in really thin rollers a few times last month and it was SUPER shiny and bouncy (for like 2 days only). I stopped because I'm really lazy lol.

I didnt realize that "wet-set" hair was a thing.I have put my hair in waves/a bun while it was still wet, and it didnt really turn out too pretty.....but curlers made my hair suspiciously soft :shrug: I don't really like my hair curly at this length, and I don't think its long enough to wrap :(

btw, does it look 2A to you all?

also - Vatika oil sounds so interesting...must experiment !! does it contain protein?

January 26th, 2013, 06:51 PM
btw, does it look 2A to you all?

Looks more 1b to me, if that's your natural texture in the pictures above.

January 26th, 2013, 07:18 PM
I bought the Regis hydrating balm at a Hairmasters hair salon.

January 26th, 2013, 07:19 PM
I think it's long enough to wrap! And there are different wrapping methods too, if you don't like the "using your head as one gigantic roller" method ... like cross-wrapping. I was looking at cross-wrapping youtube videos yesterday and it looked interesting.

January 28th, 2013, 12:57 AM
Haha I tried wrapping but it was a fail. I never considered my hair to be 1b, even though its fairly straight. It has this weird bumpy frizziness that is NOT wavy and pretty, its just poofy and misshapen. I wonder if I'm just conditioning it wrong? I just wish I knew whats up with my hair.

Would an ACV rinse help with dryness?

January 28th, 2013, 02:39 AM
I'm going to second the wet set idea. Left to dry naturally my hair is pretty dry even when it's shiny no matter what oils, treatment,etc. I use on it but if I roller set it or put it it in four braids with a big curler on the ends and then dry it with my Daisy dryer (soft plastic cap attached to a dryer) it's soft and silky. I don't know if it's the fact that all the hair has the same texture or the heat seals the cuticles or what but it works.

January 28th, 2013, 03:08 AM
Have you tried giving your hair a break from the bbb?

Wildcat Diva
January 28th, 2013, 09:03 AM
I see that you recently tried mineral oil. That was was I came here to post about. You can mist your hair and then do two-three drops. I have to use an eye dropper to get the right amount. Dont use too much!

February 5th, 2013, 04:27 PM
I think you might do well to take a break from the boar bristle brush for a while. See how it feels in a week or so of just combing - some hair types really don`t like boar bristle brushes. Especially slightly wavies and curlies should avoid them like the plague. You may even find that you are curlier than you think after being off the bbb for a while.
I have 2a/b hair and use a BBB daily, it still retains my waves and my hair has improved 100% since using it. I agree they are no good for curly hair but quite a few people with wavy hair use them with no problem

February 6th, 2013, 09:33 AM
So far, since I've put down the BBB and picked up a white buffalo bone comb, my hair has been more moisturized.

February 6th, 2013, 09:18 PM
I use a spray bottle filled with half water & two capfuls of olive oil. I spray it on before I shampoo. Wait about 4-5 minutes. Also I put
two capfuls of olive oil in my shampoo & conditioner. And added two capfuls of Aloe Vera gel to my conditioner. My hair felt really soft.
Try horse shampoo from Wall Mart. In the pet section of the store, or grocery store. It helped my hair grow. Hope this helps.

February 6th, 2013, 09:33 PM
Aw I'm sorry you're struggling with this. Your hair looks very beautiful and soft but of course I understand how it feels is important too. I'd like to recommend hair products geared towards Black and/or Latin customers for extra conditioning. Shea Moisture is a popular brand with very positive reviews. You might also have success using oil or shea butter as a leave in specifically, I know you use it as a pre-wash treatment. Henna may be an option for stronger hair/less splits too.

February 13th, 2013, 01:40 AM
Update - I stopped brushing my hair and have been oiling with coconut, mineral and olive oil. I've been alternating b/w SLS ans SLS free, and cone and cone free. I see no difference in whichever products I use. My hair still literally feels like velcro and even sounds crunchy. What gives!? I have short, virgin hair. Its not fair! I treat my hair so well :(

I dont know what my options are anymore. I feel like Ive exhausted everything except henna/cassia, and to be honest, I wouldn't even have a clue as to how to start doing those types of treatments.

I've tried doing a white vinegar wash, but again, no real difference. Nothing has been BAD, but nothing has worked either.

EDIT - could it be that when I got my hair cut in October (blunt cut), the stylist used blunt scissors? its only my ends that are so ridiculously dry and I'm getting splits for the first time in literally, YEARS. I didn't evn have this problem when I bleached and heat styled.

February 13th, 2013, 02:46 AM
I don't know. My ends are ridiculously dry due to color damage. But my overall hair has always been dry. The only thing that helps my ends is to apply coconut oil overnight, even if I'm not washing it the next day. It soaks in by morning. The rest of my hair can be remoisturized by flax spray. My last 2 inches are like a broom and need the special treatment. I don't even bother with virgin coconut oil; it's expensive and not necessary. I just get a big tub of Lou Ana on the cooking oil aisle. Lasts me a couple of months and makes excellent pie crust, too. :cheese: