Dry hair lacks elasticity and bounce. It’s difficult to handle because it’s brittle and breaks easily. It also often looks unruly and feels really rough to the touch.
A dry scalp is a scalp that produces a very minimal amount of the natural oil your skin produces known as sebum.
TEST OILY SCALP
A great way to tell which one you’re suffering from is to test it.
The OIL BLOT test is a quick and simple way to test your scalp’s production level. (These results will be more accurate on recently shampooed hair and should preferably be done a day after and with no product on your scalp).
Take a makeup oil blotter and dab it on your scalp – if you don’t have blot paper use the rice paper that comes with the gifts or a single sheet of tissue.
If the sheet looks completely dry after the test then you have a dry scalp.
Dry scalp means dry hair
If you see traces of oil on the sheet then you have normal to oily scalp. Keep in mind that if you have an oily scalp, depending on the tightness of the hair texture your strands could either be oily or dry. If you have a dry scalp then your strands are going to be naturally dry.
Most naturals have a combination hair type with normal or oily scalp with dry hair strands. Many naturals assume that because their strands are dry that their scalps are dry too and so because of this you include oiling your scalp in your hair routine not knowing that your scalp already produces the proper amount of sebum. In this case, routinely oiling your scalp can cause more harm than good.
CAUSES OF DRY HAIR AND SCALP
For those of you with both dry scalp and dry hair, there are only 3 possible reasons for this.
- It could be natural or hereditary.
- It could be self-inflicted aka you’ve applied too much product on your skin or caused by the environment.
- It could also be the symptom of an underlying medical condition.
Sebum is a natural oil that our hair produces and once it surfaces it slides down our hair surfaces and coats our hair strands. Sebum is a perfect oil for our hair because it not only composed of lipids or fats like cholesterol, glycerides, fatty acids and wax, it’s also acidic and works well with keeping moisture in our hair strands. It also protects our scalp from bacterial and fungal infections.
Low sebum production or distribution
Having naturally dry hair strands can be caused by 2 things:
It could be that your scalp doesn’t naturally produce enough Sebum, or you’re not getting enough sebum. You could very well have a proper amount of sebum production but because your hair is extra textured, it difficult for natural sebum to slide down and coat your hair strands. One of the reasons why new growth hair always looks and feels the best is because it’s close to the scalp and gets all the sebum it needs.
Beside the self- inflicted damage, hair that is high in porosity is also caused by lack of sebum coating the hair strand. You see, sebum is slightly acidic so it’s really effective in protecting and keeping your cuticles closed. A lack of sebum coating your hair strand leaves your cuticles to be exposed which quickly causes them to get damaged even from simple things like combing your hair.
pH balance also maintains a good balance in porosity levels so it’s important to test the pH of your water- based products. The pH of sebum is between 4.5 and 5.5 so for hair which is high in porosity it’s important to have products of around that range. This acidity not only prevents fungal and bacterial growth on your hair and scalp it also keeps the cuticles closed and healthy.
Once it’s damaged there’s nothing you can do to reverse it. The only thing would be to patch it up with protein treatments and protecting it from further damage by keeping it moisturized and coating it with natural oils.
HOW TO MOISTURISE
When your hair lacks shine and sheen, oil coating and protecting your hair strands, the solution is simply to seal your hair strands with oil after you moisturize it. So, the order should be; wash, condition, leave-in conditioner, cream and only then an oil.
Including a cream is optional and can be used instead of an oil. You can also mix in some oils to your leave-in conditioner instead of applying it separately.
Always remember to sleep in a satin scarf or use a satin pillowcase.
Dry hair is usually a self-inflicted problem. Hair can also become dry from practices which strip the hair from its natural oil such as too much sun exposure swimming in salt or chlorinated water, harsh ingredients in products and over using of hair dryers and other styling equipment
Your strand cuticle layers are oil-less and exposed and if you continue it will cause damage causing it to become more porous.
The use of silicon-based protectants are useful when styling your hair with heat. Always make sure to clarify your hair afterward. If you know that your hair will be exposed to a lot of sun try adding grape seed oil to your hair beforehand as it will act as a great sunscreen. Use coconut oil to protect your hair before swimming in sea salt or chlorinated water.
Dry hair can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Conditions like Thyroid Disease, malnutrition certain vitamin deficiencies and most commonly hormonal changes – like in pregnancy or menopause.
Before concluding that you have a vitamin deficiency, and need to take supplements like biotin make sure YOU are not the cause of your hair problems by following a healthy happy hair routine
If you are practicing good hair routine and you are still experiencing excessively dry hair, it may be time for a check up with your doctor. A good recommendation is to try for 3 months before seeking medical help- because Dr checks are not cheap!