The root of the problem may not be what you think it is. Struggling with dry hair is no fun. If you’re one of the many people who use words like straw, tumbleweed or bird’s nest to describe what grows atop your head, take heart: No matter what the product companies say, dry hair is not a type, it’s a condition. And it’s fixable.
The Why of Dry
Surely this isn’t the first article you’ve consulted about your concerns, but it just might be the last. We’ll assume you’ve addressed the obvious causes of moisture depletion: unplugging the blow-dryer, flat iron, and curling wand; wearing a hat in the sun and a cap in the pool; taking a break from the bleach, and adopting a hair-healthy diet (that includes plenty of protein, vitamins A, B-12, B-7, C, iron, and zinc). But don’t focus on water intake; proper hydration may do wonders for your skin, but no amount will improve your hair.
Note: If dryness is accompanied by fatigue, intolerance to cold, weakness or hair loss, you should consult your doctor about possible underlying conditions.
The Biology Behind Moisture
Here’s the most important thing to understand: In the absence of conditions such as hormone imbalance, birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause, your body has the mechanism to keep hair and skin optimally moisturized. Sebaceous glands that live in clusters around your hair follicles secrete an oily, waxy substance called sebum to waterproof and lubricate (and perform other wondrous functions related to guarding against bacteria and regulating the consistency of sweat). It’s an important system that in some people can be either over- or underproductive, but for all of us, it’s fragile and can easily be disrupted. And disruption is guaranteed if you use a detergent-based shampoo, and parched hair will never become otherwise. In fact, you’d be better off rinsing with water alone.
Answer this: When was the last time you used soap to wash your face? Oil-based cleansing became the norm for modern women years ago, but fewer people have connected the dots to include the area above the hairline. (Read the history of shampoo here.)
A shampoo is a soap in liquid form, regardless of ingredients included to justify claims of moisturizing. Detergent molecules are created to attach firmly to anything oily and to attach securely to water, So when you shampoo and rinse, the oily substances – the ones you want and the ones you don’t – are lifted from hair strands and scalp too effectively – so that the natural sebum barrier is destroyed. That is why conditioner was invented: To add back some of the moisture that shampoo eradicates, on a daily basis for some people. Take a deep dive into the chemistry and physics of cleansing here.
So what can be done? Well, it’s likely that your hairdresser tells you to keep shampooing to a minimum because they intuitively understand the problem, and when you shampoo less frequently, you won't deplete more moisture by blow drying and heat-styling as often. That’s a fine start, but why not eliminate shampoo altogether? We don’t mean walking around with greasy, stinky hair; we simply suggest a cleanser that’s more in line with the one you probably use on your face.
When you shampoo less frequently, you won't deplete more moisture by blow drying and heat-styling as often. That’s a fine start, but why not eliminate shampoo altogether?
Hairstory New Wash is just such a cleanser. It has all the cleansing benefits of shampoo but none of the risks. Instead of detergent, it is formulated with an ingenious blend of essential oils and saturated fats that dissolve the impurities you don’t want while respecting the sebum that you need. An added benefit is that it conditions while it cleanses, eliminating the need for a second product (and often a third or fourth once you’re out of the shower).
At a time when the trends in hairwear run toward the natural, unfussed “I woke up this way” variety, the intrinsic condition of hair is more important than ever. The idea that you can do more with less is gaining ground for good reason. So next time you’re in the shower, you might take a look at the old ways you’ve been managing your hair and remember that there’s a new way: New Wash.