Dry and frizzy hair could have a number of causes, but more often than not, lack of moisture is the culprit. Factors such as your hair texture or porosity, protein levels, and even the environment you live in can dramatically affect the amount of moisture your hair needs. Hair type and texture vary from person to person, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to dry and frizzy hair. While all hair can become dry and frizzy, curly hair has a higher tendency to develop both.
Those who embrace their curls come to understand that navigating frizz and dryness is essential to achieving their desired curl definition. While dry hair can be corrected, frizz is a signature element of curly hair that should be embraced and used to create volume. Every individual will find the balance of frizz that works for their hair. Every head of curls benefits from specialized haircutting to emphasize its curl pattern and using products that are designed for their needs. Additionally, there are steps you can take at home to manage dry and frizzy hair, like masks and treatments. These at-home treatments should always be discussed with your stylist and patch tested (for topical solutions).
Meet the Expert
- Daisy Henson is a curl expert and educator and the owner of The Daze Studio.
- Marissa Rullan is a curly hair specialist at Studio 210 Salon in Los Angeles, CA.
- Leata Williams is a trichologist and founder of Mane Theory, Inc., She specializes in healthy hair, hair restoration, and non-surgical hair replacements.
Try a DIY Avocado Hair Mask
For an all-natural moisturizing and strengthening treatment, Williams recommends making and applying the following mask monthly:
- 1/2 ripped avocado
- 1 - 1 1/2tablespoon of raw honey
- 1 whole egg
- 3 drops of rosemary oil
Combine ingredients and apply evenly to hair. Leave on 15-20 minutes before shampooing.
Williams explains that Avocado and honey are used because they are moisturizing to the hair. The measurement of honey all depends on how dry your hair is, so if you're feeling extra dry go for the higher dose of honey. She shares that "honey is a humectant, it locks in the shine everyone wants for their hair. Rosemary oil is an added bonus, as it helps to stimulate hair growth."
Rosemary leaf extract is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin and prevents signs of premature aging. Rosmarinic acid (its main component) helps calm skin conditions like eczema and acne.
Deep Condition Your Hair Weekly
Moisturization is one guaranteed way to treat dryness and manage frizz. Rullan explained the connection, saying "Dry hair is caused by lack of moisture. Frizz is often a result of dry hair. Dry hair, or dehydrated hair, leads to more snapping and breakage due to the lack of elasticity in the strands." All of our experts agreed that deep conditioning on a weekly or bi-weekly basis is a great way to bring moisture back into the hair. There are deep conditioners designed to treat all kinds of specific hair concerns, such as color-treated and fine hair.
Detox Your Hair to Remove Build-up
While dryness is a leading contributor to frizz, build-up is often not far behind. Henson explains that frizz can occur when there is a buildup of minerals on our hair, like iron and calcium, from hard water. This leads to dryness, as "these minerals can form a barrier that inhibits the hair's ability to absorb moisture." Product build-up can cause these same issues as well. Henson recommends using a clarifying shampoo, but if you don't have access to one, the following home remedy will eliminate build-up:
- 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 cups of warm water
Combine to create a clarifying rinse. Add this rinse to damp hair, making sure to coat all of the strands from root to end. Follow with a conditioning shampoo. This can be done once per month.
Henson does caution that those with sensitive scalps should not use this rinse, as it may cause irritation (due to the acidity). Additionally, those with color-treated hair should not use this often, as an apple cider vinegar rinse could possibly fade color if used too often.
Rebuild the Bonds of Your Hair
Heat styling and damage can both cause an excess of frizz. To repair the damage done to hair by coloring and heat, it is necessary to rebuild the bonds of the hair on a molecular level. Olaplex offers several products designed to repair and strengthen hair, some of which can be used at home. Henson explains that "It will rebuild, repair and strengthen your hair from the inside out, thus making your hair healthier, shinier and less prone to frizz." Williams agrees that Olaplex products focus on repairing the hair strand, adding "I like to recommend Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector paired with Olaplex No.7, which is their bonding oil."
Steam Your Hair to Add Hydration
Depending on the porosity of your hair, you may have trouble adequately hydrating your strands. Rullan explains that hair is made of protein-bound together by fatty lipids/acids and the outer-most layer, the cuticle, lays like roof tiles or scales. How open or closed these scales are determine how easy or difficult different hair types can absorb and hold onto moisture. High porosity hair cuticles are very raised - meaning water easily absorbs in but is quickly evaporated out. Low porosity hair cuticles are so tightly closed that it’s very difficult for water to get through. The challenge with this hair type is that products often sit on the strand instead of absorbing it. "Even water rolls off and will evaporate off of the strand before it’s able to be absorbed" she explains.
How can those with low porosity infuse hydration? Rullan encourages you to use steam. She shares that steam encourages the scales of the cuticle layer to open, which allows for moisture to work its way in.
To steam your hair at home, apply conditioner to freshly washed hair. Cover hair with a shower cap and wrap with a hot damp towel. The steam will open the scales of the cuticle layer of your hair, allowing the conditioner to soak in.
Apply Humectants to Seal In Moisture
For those with high porosity hair, the issue is not so much gaining moisture as it is maintaining it. There are many naturally occurring humectants that can be applied to the hair to seal in the moisture gained by wetting the hair. Rullan mentioned the following humectants as being beneficial to high porosity hair:
Natural humectants include:
It is important not to over-apply these products, so start with a tablespoon-sized amount. Rullan also shares that flexible hold gels help high porosity hair retain moisture - "many people like to make their own flaxseed gel for moisture. Shea butters are great for weight for people who like a more weighted look." Rullan also stresses the importance of properly cleansing the hair to ensure buildup of these products does not occur.
Invest in the Right Linens
Even if you are using all of the right products, you could be losing moisture and causing frizz and dryness with the linens that you use. Henson recommends using a silk or satin pillowcase to prevent moisture loss from your hair. She explains that "a cotton case will soak up the moisture in your hair while sleeping, and cause friction that can result in breakage." While some of these can be pricey, they protect the investment you are making in your hair and skin products as well. Additionally, she recommends using a microfiber towel to dry your hair. A regular cotton towel can rough up your hair and cause unwanted frizz, while a microfiber towel removes excess water without stripping the hair or disrupting the cuticle.
Apply Styling Products to Wet Hair
All of our experts agree that getting adequate moisture into hair starts with the essence of hydration: water. One of the biggest mistakes people with curly hair can make is allowing their hair to dry before applying products designed to seal in moisture or lock in styles. Williams explains that "we see frizz occur once a product is put on dry hair because it is trying to absorb the moisture."
Applying the product to wet hair encourages the hair to absorb the moisture and the product. On high porosity hair, moisturization will not remain without something to seal it in. Henson agrees, saying "If your hair is curly, add products while your hair is very wet and the curls are clumped together." These products improve both the appearance of dry and frizzy hair and the overall health of the hair.