My hair is so dry and I am wondering why and how to improve it.
December 26, 2013 8:20 AM   Subscribe

This has been going on for about a year. At first I noticed my shoulder length hair falling out more but that has definitely improved. For the last month it's begun to feel a little itchy and for a few weeks I started using dandruff shampoo every 2 days though I don't have that problem. Does anyone have any thoughts or solutions before I cut it.
posted by Tziv to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It can be a thyroid issue, or a skin condition or simply using the wrong product on your hair. My hair has become dryer as I've aged. But you might want to see a doctor to rule out any health issues.

My mother's hair started to fall out due to a medication she was on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:23 AM on December 26, 2013

Are you anemic? I lost gobs of hair this year due to iron deficiency. No one noticed it but me, but the good news is it seems to be slowing down or reversing now that I am taking a supplement.

My hair was also pretty dry, as it's the longest it's been since I was a kid, even though I never use products or too much heat. I really love Aussie 3-minute miracle conditioner, which has improved the texture dramatically.
posted by mochapickle at 8:28 AM on December 26, 2013

try using oil after your shampoo to moisturize the scalp and hair. I have been using this to keep rid of dryness and it has worked wonders link
posted by radsqd at 8:42 AM on December 26, 2013

Did you get on birth control pills around that time? That would be my first suspect.

Paragard - a non-hormonal copper IUD - is a great alternative if BC makes your hair and nails brittle and gives you dandruff.
posted by rada at 8:46 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Second the anemia thing. If you have low iron or b12 your skin and other integuments are going to be the first to show the lack of vitamins. I highly suggest a quick blood test at the doctor's office.

Other options for you include investing in some good shampoo with argan oil. I use Organix Brazillian Kertain therapy for shine, but you may be better served by the renewing Moroccan Argan Oil

Otherwise, really hit the water hard. If you drink soda or anything else, cut that out and replace with water. You would be surprised how fast you can become dehydrated in the winter.

Good luck!
posted by Driven at 8:48 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Coconut oil. The climate where I live is extremely dry, and combined with bad water quality, having long hair has been really tiresome this year. I put coconut oil in my hair at least once a week at night (rub it into your scalp too), go to sleep and then wash it out in the morning. Works magic. Try it out.

(You could try the oil after shampoo too but go easy, it's easy to make your hair feel real greasy that way. I use a tiny bit when cold + dryness turns me into a static monster.)

Good luck!
posted by 9000condiments at 8:55 AM on December 26, 2013

Sudden changes in things like that can be symptoms of a lot of different medical conditions, so please look into that first.

Assuming everything is OK on that front, though, I'd recommend maybe trying 'no poo' techniques. I quit shampoo a couple of years ago or so, and my hair is softer and smoother and shinier for it. It was pretty greasy for about the first week or so, but it adjusted. I use baking soda mixed with water to wash my hair, and diluted cider vinegar as a rinse, usually every other day. (I use about a 5:1 dilution, and then quickly rinse it through, and I haven't had a problem with smelly vinegary after my hair is dry. And I do know people who are rude and comfortable enough with me that they'd tell me if I was wrong.) I also don't blow dry, which probably helps, too.

If that's not enough, you could also rub small amounts of oil through it with your hands as needed. I do that sometimes when the air is really dry and I start getting staticky.

I might be deluded, but it sort of seems like my hair actually air dries faster than it did when I used shampoo and conditioner.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:10 AM on December 26, 2013

Non-health related possible causes:
- hard water
- change in formulation of your regular shampoo/conditioner/styler
- overwashing
- dry air (if it's winter where you are, could be indoor and outdoor)
- overuse of heat tools like blow dryer

A shampoo with tea tree oil or an apple cider vinegar rinse might help with the itching.
posted by sm1tten at 9:12 AM on December 26, 2013

Stop using the dandruff shampoo, they contain antifungals, which doesn't sound like it's your problem. It's most likely making it worse.

I would stop washing your hair daily. Shampoo, especially detergent containing shampoos and anti-dandruff shampoos can make your hair really dry. I would condition-only on most days and make sure that you condition your scalp really well.

Some posters mentioned using oil, which might be a good idea. I actually mix some olive oil into my hair gel, which doesn't leave my hair greasy at all.
posted by inertia at 10:29 AM on December 26, 2013

I had some nutritional deficiencies, and that caused my hair to fall out. If your doc says you don't have any, a good "hair and nail" supplement won't hurt, and definitely helped my hair strength. I have really long hair so when it starts breaking, I notice.

Also, using a hair oil helps with the dryness. I use Moroccan Oil, but any Argan Oil product will do the same. Work it in to the ends especially, if your hair is splitting, but put it on all your hair while wet and let it absorb. Use a good bit the first time, leave it in for a long while when you're planning on staying in for the day or something, then wash it out the next day when you shampoo. It will help with the dryness and dullness. I get a ton of compliments now that I use it regularly.

For maintenance a dime-sized amount is good for short to medium length hair, avoid the scalp to avoid looking greasy, more for longer hair. This will help protect your hair if you blow dry or heat treat it too, I think.
posted by gilsonal at 10:44 AM on December 26, 2013

This may be too obvious but you didn't mention conditioner: do you use conditioner? If not, you should and if you already do use it, maybe try using more?
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:11 AM on December 26, 2013

This question's a little tough to follow, because you mention dryness in the subject but the question mentions hair loss and scalp itch.

So there are two issues here: your scalp and your hair itself. There are things you can do for your scalp and things you can do to make your hair less dry, so let's split it up into that.

(1) Scalp
You need to see your doctor. Changes in hair texture and hair fall really do need to be investigated by a proper professional. In the meantime, using dandruff shampoo is not a bad idea; some evidence suggests that ketoconazole shampoos can help with hair loss. You'll get a lot of advice suggesting that you stop using shampoo or use baking soda instead of shampoo; this isn't going to do your hair loss situation any favours, not to mention that if you have thin fine hair it'll look just awful if you don't keep your scalp clean. I speak from unfortunate personal experience.

(2) Hair
While shampooing often with an antifungal shampoo might be helping out your scalp, your hair will probably be feeling a lot drier. If your hair is longer than ear length then you can protect your lengths and ends while you shampoo by applying conditioner from your ears down before you shampoo, then conditioning again after you shampoo. Oils can also really help with dryness; coconut and olive are both really helpful. An easy way to really treat the dryness is to heavily oil your hair before you wash. Applying coconut oil before you shampoo is a good way to cut down on protein loss.

What are your hair styling habits like? Heat styling and rough handling can really make your hair feel trashed. Be super careful when you detangle; either use a wide toothed comb or the glorious Tangle Teezer and comb gently starting at the ends before you brush. A boar bristle brush will help to distribute oils from your scalp to your ends, helping both the scalp itch situation and the dryness, but your hair should be detangled before you brush. Try to find ways to style without heat; give the blow dryer and flat iron a rest for a few days.

I hope this helps. See a doctor, buy a bottle of Nizoral shampoo, and stock up on all the conditioner.
posted by nerdfish at 12:11 PM on December 26, 2013

Best answer: Definitely check in with your doctor re: your thyroid. In the meantime, I would ditch the shampoo entirely, and only use a light conditioner to clean your hair. It will feel a little odd at first, because it doesn't lather the way shampoo does -- but just glop it on and comb it through with your fingers, then rinse out. Then follow with a scalp rinse of apple cider vinegar (diluted about 50% -- be sure not to let it get in your eyes!), and style with Argan or Moroccan oil.
posted by scody at 4:17 PM on December 26, 2013

yeah, it could be a thyroid problem. that has caused me itchy, super dry scalp & hair. i've heard using an apple cider vinegar rinse is supposed to really help with dry hair.
posted by wildflower at 5:18 PM on December 26, 2013

here's an ACV rinse recipe
posted by wildflower at 6:01 PM on December 26, 2013

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