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Slideshow: Natural Help for Dry or Damaged Hair

Can Your Hair Pass the Test?

Is every day a "bad hair day" for you? If your troubles come from dry or damaged locks, regular styling might hurt more than help. Take a dry strand and gently pull both ends to stretch it. If it breaks easily, you don't have enough moisture in your hair.

A Better Brand of Moisturizers

A lot of products saythey’re moisturizing on the label. In reality, they might simply coat your hair to make it feel softer. Look for products with natural oils like olive or argan oil, or glycerin, sorbitol, or shea butter. But stay away from shampoos with mineral oil and petrolatum, which keep outside moisture from getting in.

Heat: Friend or Enemy?

Heat is still the best way to get a sleek, smooth look. But you do need to protect your hair from damage caused by blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons. Apply a heat styling cream while your hair is damp. If you have fine hair, set your styling tools to low. Medium and coarse hair can handle slightly higher temperatures.

Watch Out for the Weather!

No matter your hair type, weather stresses it out. Cold air and blazing sun can be drying -- so can salt water and chlorine. When your tresses have been exposed, consider using a shampoo and conditioner designed for dry hair. You should also wear a hat when outside conditions are bad.

Let Go of Some Length

Why are you holding on to those scraggly ends? General rule of thumb: Trim dead ends every 6 to 8 weeks, especially if you use hot tools regularly. Stylists warn against snipping strands at home because dull scissors can fray your ends even more. Plus, cutting the back of your hair in a straight line isn't easy!

Give Hair a Lube Job

If you're super-dry, try jojoba or coconut oil. Rub a few drops onto damp hair and leave it on for a few minutes. Wash out the oil treatment with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. For more impact, give your styling tools a day off and let your hair air dry.

Get Your Hair Ready for Bed

Treat your hair well, even while you sleep. Get the tangles out before bed with a boar-bristle brush. Brushing also helps spread out oils from your scalp. If you have long hair, twist it back into a loose bun, tuck the ends under, and fasten it with a hair tie. If you have short hair, sleep on a silk pillowcase. It causes less friction.

Don't Fry It with Chemicals

Does your hairstyle include perms, relaxers, or permanent hair color? Chemicals take away hair's natural moisture and weaken the strands. If you have too many chemical treatments, your hair might turn dull and frizzy. Try to keep your salon hair color within three shades of your natural hair color. Hair color closer to your natural shade needs less processing. And try to space out your treatments.

Be a Kitchen Beautician

Whip up a DIY hair mask by mixing equal parts honey and olive oil in a small bowl. It might smell good enough to eat, but this one's for luscious locks! Rub the mask evenly through your hair, and then wrap it in plastic wrap for 30 minutes. Wash it out with shampoo and conditioner. Do it at least once a month, or every week if you can.

Shampoo vs. No-poo

You may want freshly washed hair every day. But it's not necessary unless your scalp is really oily. Try shampooing less often. Or shampoo one day and "no-poo" -- wet your hair but use just conditioner -- the next. Whenever you shampoo, rub just the scalp and let the lather run down your hair. Use conditioner near the ends, not the scalp.

The Hair Diet

Your hair craves healthy fats! So eat plenty of avocados, salmon, and olive oil. These foods are jam-packed with essential fatty acids, which can moisturize a dry scalp with natural oils. Whatever you do, don’t crash diet -- you’ll be starving your body of important nutrients that you need to produce healthy hair.

How to Manage Dry or Damaged Hair

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on December 14, 2014

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