Do you have dry hair? Diagnosis, Causes, and Remedies

  • 5 min read

We see a lot of hair at Church Barber, and when we see dry, damaged hair our barbers are quick to politely diagnose it and offer advice for remedy. This guide will help you define and diagnose dry hair, the root causes, and how to get your hair healthy again.

checking hair to see if it

What is dry hair?

To have “dry hair” means that your hair is lacking of its natural oils, also called sebum; it's not shiny, elastic, and strong, as it should be.

Symptoms: How to know if you have dry hair

Diagnosing dry hair is easy - you’ll know you have dry hair if any of the following are true when you look at and touch your hair:

  1. Dull looking, lacking shine
  2. Brittle to the touch, weak, or containing split ends
  3. Frizzy, or feels like “static” is present
  4. Flakes, or dandruff located on your shoulders or back collar

If any of the above describe your hair, it’s safe to say that you have dry hair.

Causes: Why do you have dry hair?

Your hair is dry because it's lacking in sebum, which is caused by a number of things we'll cover in detail here.

First, let's talk Sebum.

Your scalp produces sebum, an oily substance that shields and protects your hair. Healthy hair has just the right amount of sebum, giving it shine, providing strength and elasticity to the hair follicles. We’ll talk more about how to keep your hair healthy later. 

sebum diagram

So why don't you have enough sebum?

  1. Hair care habits - shampooing too frequently is the number one reason that people have dry hair. Shampoo, especially harsh shampoos with surfactants or sulfates (sodium lauryl sulfate is the most common name to look for on ingredient lists), strips your hair of it's natural oils as it cleanses your scalp. If you shampoo too frequently you don't give your scalp enough time to produce more sebum, and before you know it your hair is dry and quickly thereafter becomes damaged, brittle feeling, gets split ends, and is generally dull looking. Note: if you switch to a non-stripping,  natural shampoo without sulfates, you can shampoo more frequently. 
  2. Age - as you grow older, your body produces less sebum. Knowing that, you should adjust how often you wash your hair and shampoo less often as your body gradually produces less sebum.
  3. Hair type - how often you should shampoo is also related to your hair type. We detail this more in our shampoo guide, but in short: thinner, finer hair gets coated in sebum more quickly and so it should be washed more frequently than curly, coarse, thicker hair, which takes longer for sebum to fully surround and coat. 
  4. Synthetic hair styling products - using synthetic styling products with alcohols and harsh ingredients can not only lead to dry and damaged hair, but if you're using products you need to washout each night, you're going to need to shampoo very frequently. As said before, this frequent shampooing also leads to dry and damaged hair. Switching to natural hair styling products which do not need to be fully washed from your hair and scalp each night is not only better for hair, but means you won't need to shampoo too often.
Real vs. Synthetic Hair Products
  • Clay styling products - Styling products like our Volcanic Clay Pomade, which use bentonite clay for hold and volume, are intentionally drying in order to leave a dry, matte finish. People with healthy, naturally oil hair love clay products because the clay counteracts their hair's oils to leave a matte look. However, if you have dry hair to begin with, bentonite clay will only make your hair more dry. So, if you have dry hair, you should first solve that problem before using a clay styling product.
  • Environmental factors - dry and humid air can make your hair look and feel dry. It's important to use a good hair conditioner and shampoo your hair less frequently if you live in a dry, humid environment.
  • Swimming - unless you're a frequent swimmer, this shouldn't concern you. If you do swim frequently in chlorinated or salt water, you should wear a swim cap to prevent drying out your scalp.
  • Blow drying too frequently - if you do frequent blowouts you should invest in a good hairdryer, to avoid heat damage. We use Dyson hairdryers at Church Barber.
  • Health problems - eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia and hormonal problems like having an underactive thyroid can also lead to dry hair. If you're experiencing more symptoms than just dry hair, you should seek medical help.

Solutions: How to fix dry hair

Now that you know what not to do from our list above, let's talk about what you can do to remedy dry hair and create happy and healthy hair.

  1. Stop shampooing until you feel the sebum come back - you'll know it's time to wash again when your hair starts to feel overly oily. When your hair is dry, it's crucial to give your hair and scalp time to recuperate.
  2. Switch to a natural non-stripping shampoo, and choose one without sulfates. Look for ingredients like rice water for hair strength and elasticity, and olive oil, coconut oil and shea butter for moisture.
  3. Use a conditioner! Shampoo's purpose is to wash the scalp. Conditioner is used to smooth your hair and make it look and feel more moisturized and full. Choose a conditioner with oils like argan, broccoli seed, and sacha inchi, which provide moisture and nourishment, and butters like kokum and mango which combat dry hair and frizz.
Church California Conditioner Bar
Church California Conditioner Bar
  • Deep conditioning treatment - at Church Barber we have a hair processor called the Spa Mist II from Takara Belmont which provides a 5 minute deep conditioning spa treatment for hair. The results for dry hair are amazing, so consider a treatment if you're looking to accelerate your road to recovery.
  1. Leave-in conditioner - using a hair mask or a leave-in conditioner is a good idea too. Our Coastal Creme Pomade is our take on a styling version of a leave-in conditioner, and ingredients like jojoba and coconut will aid greatly in hydrating your hair and scalp. 
another satisfied customer at Church Barber

Summary: What to do if you have dry hair

You'll know you have dry hair if your hair looks dull, feels frizzy, brittle, and/or contains split ends. The cause of dry hair is a lack of sebum, a natural oil that secretes from your scalp to coat and protect your hair. The most common cause for a lack of sebum is shampooing too frequently, especially with shampoos that contain alcohols and sulfates, which are harsh and strip your scalp of its natural oils. The most efficient solution is to stop shampooing until you feel the sebum return to your scalp. You should also switch to a natural shampoo and conditioner, which will aid in hydrating and moisturizing your hair and scalp. 

Have hair questions? Drop us a line at We'd love to help!