What Causes Dry Hair: 7 Most Common Culprits

May 21, 2019

Rachael Grant

Dry hair causes
can come down to something as simple as reaching out for the hair dryer too often or being an avid windsurfer and spending too much time out in the sun. If that’s the case – the solution is simple – just limit the activity and you’ll see improvements in months, if not weeks. However, some of the more convoluted dry hair reasons may require doing thorough research to discover the real issue behind those moistureless, thirsty locks.

Hair follicles are sensitive. Along with the skin and nails, they create our natural protective shield from the environment. If we neglect them with improper care or let them suffer from external factors, poor skin and brittle nails often come in the same package with dry hair. The good thing is that there are several common reasons for dry hair and by looking into the root of the matter, you can eliminate or solve the problem with your hair, as well as improve your nails and skin for some of them.


Let’s look into the most common dry hair causes and see why they arise so that we are able to fight them. We can all agree that we’d love removing dehydrated strands from messing up a great hairstyle, be it a chopped bob haircut, such as Brie Larson’s’ latest fresh trim (don’t get all confused – she wore wigs during the filming of “Captain Marvel”) or Cartia Mallan’s long chocolate locks.



  1. Genetics

The number one dry hair cause is genetics. Simply put, you were born with a dryer scalp and dry hair that fails to keep the moisture in and balance out the natural oils is in your DNA. You have fewer oil glands that surround the hair follicle and feed the hair from root to tip. You might also have more sweat glands to protect your head from overheating.

Genetically dry hair

While this may be helpful during exercise and for migraine prevention, it doesn’t help much with hair protection. Therefore, if you suffer from dry hair due to natural causes, you may need to double or triple the effort you give to care and invest in full-scope care, including the regular application of deep treatment nourishing creams

  1. Medication

Certain drugs can impair the hair and cause dryness. The wrongdoer’s list is long and it includes antibiotics, anti-depressants, acne or antifungal medications, weight loss remedies, chemotherapy treatment, high blood pressure drugs, and many others.

Since you cannot change the prescribed medication by yourself, ask your doctor for an alternative. Changing the medication usually eliminates this common dry hair cause.


  1. Illness

Unfortunately, illnesses can suck the life out of great hair, remove its natural bounciness, and make it look all parched and lifeless. If the condition is serious, you will be most likely having other priorities under the circumstances and dedicate most of your time to either heal your body or improve its condition with help from healthcare pros. But once you’re done with the basic medical care, you will also like to look nice and unmoistened hair is not a part of that equation.

Hypothyroidism is a common medical condition that can cause hair and eyebrow thinning and dryness. Autoimmune disorders, for instance, Graves disease, and some genetic conditions such as Menkes disease can worsen the hair quality and dry it out.

There are strictly hair-related or skin illnesses, such as seborrheic dermatitis – the good old dandruff – that can damage hair vitality, making it dry at the ends and oily at the roots. Another example is infection to the hair follicles or folliculitis, which is typically caused by bacteria and can not only evaporate the hair but also cause it to fall off. Of course, whenever a disease is in question, address the main problem first and tend to the cosmetics later by regularly applying gentle cleaning shampoo and conditioner.

  1. Hormonal changes

Hormones fluctuate cyclically and change with age. We all know how lively and elastic the hair seems mid-cycle at the peak of ovulation, and how dull and belligerent it gets before the period starts. No amount of styling products or careful blowdrying can tame it – it gets an attitude of its own!

It’s good to track your cycle so that you understand why your hair changes and to place hormones among the main dry hair causes. Instead of jumping straight into a beauty salon, wait for a few days first. If the hair doesn’t restore its natural liveliness shortly go ahead an make that phone call.


With age, the hair also tends to become dryer. During perimenopause and menopause, it’s almost like the hair is on a permanent period. So, whatever you apply to manage hormonal changes earlier in life, you can use for age-related hair dryness. Organic products can do wonders because of the body’s natural propensity to reject harsh chemicals with age. Simpler styles will reduce washing and blowdrying and in turn, reduce the dryness, too.

  1. Weather

If you are the outdoorsy type, your hair won’t say thank you. Although your hair and skin need exposure to natural light to build vitamin D storage, it needs to be moderate. Excessive heat, UV rays, wind, and very cold weather are among the main dry hair causes that affect people who spend a lot of time skiing, hiking, swimming, or working outside.

If you are not able to limit time spent outside as a first-aid measure, you can apply products that fight damage caused by bad weather by nourishing and protecting the follicles with oils.

  1. Nutrition

Strict diets or diets that eliminate certain food groups can cause hair damage and dryness unless you’re very careful with your eating plan and supplement taking.

You need a wholesome and balanced diet to enjoy vibrant health, including beautiful hair. If you decide to go for a specific way of eating, make sure that you are doing the hair care properly by incorporating all essential minerals, vitamins, and micronutrients for the hair.


  1. Maintenance

Now we come to the dry hair root cause – yourself! Or, more precisely, your hair care routine. What activities can cause dry hair? Too much heat from strong hair dryers without ionisation, intense colouring and other chemical treatments, as well as frequent washing, and combing or straightening while the hair is wet can adversely affect the hair quality and cause hair dehydration.

The good part is that you can do the most if you are the main contributor to ending up with dehydrated hairstyle due to poor maintenance skills or lack of attentiveness. Your problem is less serious than some of the other reasons on this list.

And, don’t forget that persistent hair dryness can lay the ground for more severe hair conditions. Therefore, act while the iron is hot and love your hair every day. Is dry hair not your issues? See our other blog on the 12 most common hair issues

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