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How can I best care for my dry hair?

Pulmonology, WebMD Medical Expert
Frankford Hospital

Dry hair looks brittle and feels "crunchy" to the touch. There are many causes of dry hair, ranging from genetics (if mom and dad have dry hair, you probably will too) to hair treatments.

Inactive oil glands can cause dry hair. If you have dry hair as a result of dry skin, consider washing your hair fewer times each week (every two or three days).

Also, pay attention to the type of shampoo and conditioner you use to make sure it replenishes your scalp with essential oils. Words to look for on hair care product labels are "hydrating" and "moisturizing."

Be sure to take care with heat and chemicals, especially if you have dry hair.

Although electric hair straighteners (flat irons) are popular, they do cause serious damage to hair. When used on high heat, hair dryers can damage hair, too. Decreasing your use of these hot devices (or at least using a less hot setting) will help to keep your hair healthier.

If you're not sure whether an appliance will damage your hair, think about your hair the way you think about your skin. Would you blast your face with 1,875 watts of hot air every morning? Probably not!

Harsh chemicals in hair color, permanents, and relaxers can strip the hair of vital oils. Some hair dyes contain fewer harsh chemicals than others. Bleaches and peroxides are ingredients to watch out for. They can make your hair brittle and cause split ends.

Finally, be extra careful in the summer sun. Sunshine and chlorine can both cause dry hair. The easiest solution is to wear a hat or simply avoid getting too much sun (your skin will thank you, too).

You can also protect your hair by wearing a swim cap when you go into the pool. Another option is to saturate your hair with conditioner before heading to the beach or pool. If you swim in a chlorinated pool, wash your hair in fresh water after swimming. If you swim frequently, consider using a shampoo designed to remove chlorine from hair.

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