12 Reasons Your Hair Is Dry & Brittle When It Should Be Shiny & Smooth

If you've noticed that your hair seems totally dry and brittle, chances are your hair isn't "just like that." There could actually be a number of reasons why your hair looks fried, and it may be a result of things that you didn't even realize you do. Even though hair seems pretty fragile, it's not always just one thing done one time that causes dryness, breakage, and other damage. Usually, it's a habit or combination of common haircare mistakes that lead to your tresses looking and feeling like straw.

But fear not. You can get your hair back to the way it was. All it takes is a little patience. Just like your hair probably didn't get so fried overnight, it also won't likely become totally healthy overnight either. But that doesn't mean that a little effort and time can't heal your damaged strands. After switching out some of your unhealthy hair care habits, you may even be surprised just how shiny and smooth your strands can truly be. So your hair stays hydrated and healthy (and looks that way too!), here are 12 reasons your hair may be more brittle than it should, and what to do instead during your beauty routine.

1. You Heat Style Too Frequently

The heat from using blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons can really do a number on your strands. Try to keep track of how often you use hot tools, and air-dry your hair whenever you can. Marie Claire recommends limiting your usage of hot tools to two or three times per week to keep your hair in check.

2. You Use Too Much Heat

Even if you already use hot tools sparingly, the level of heat you set them to when you do could also be drying and damaging your hair. Although many tools can reach temperatures as high as 450 degrees, Sedu Brand Manager, Jazmin Brunson, told StyleCaster that the heat you choose should be determined by your hair type. Those with fine hair should stay below 360 degrees, while medium and coarse hair should stay below 380 degrees and 410 degrees, respectively.

3. You Use Too Much Shampoo

Shampooing is one of those necessities that, if not done properly, can play a role in how dry and brittle your hair is. Washing your hair strips natural oils which is inherently drying. So try to refrain from washing your hair every single day, or using shampoos with drying and irritating ingredients like sulfates.

4. You Skimp On Moisture

We condition our hair to help replace moisture that was lost from shampooing. But if you don't let your conditioner sit in your hair long enough, or if you don't use the right formula, your hair could be missing out on some much-needed nourishment. New York City hairstylist, Nathaniel Hawkins, told Oprah.com to make sure to leave conditioner in your hair for at least five minutes, so it has a chance to work its magic. And if you need a serious moisture boost, look for a thicker and richer conditioner. If you can pour it out of a bottle, it's probably too thin to do much in the way of moisturizing. Look for deep conditioners that are packaged in tubs or tubes instead, Hawkins suggested.

5. You're Too Close With Your Colorist

If you like dabbling in hair dye, you probably already know that it can be pretty damaging. And even though there are recommended amounts of time to wait between touchups and dye jobs to prevent as much of this damage as possible, stretching that time out as much as you can only helps. But whether or not you can go a month-and-a-half between visits instead of just one month, Bustle writer Marlen Komar reports that thoroughly conditioning your locks before and after a coloring will help prevent your hair from becoming so dry and brittle.

6. You Don't Pay Attention To Purse Straps

You may do it without thinking, but throwing your purse on so the strap sits over your hair, and pulling your hair out from under that strap can cause some breakage. Especially if you do this on a regular basis, and tend to wear your purse exclusively on one side, you may even notice that the hair on one side of your head is thinner than the other. To prevent purse-strap damage, try to make sure your hair is out of the way before hanging your purse from your shoulder. If you happen to drop it on your locks anyway, lift up the strap before pulling your hair out from under it so as to avoid any damage caused by friction.

7. You Aggressively Detangle

Your hair is most fragile and prone to damage when it's wet. So if the first thing you do out of the shower is try to run a brush through your hair or towel-dry it, you're likely causing some breakage. Instead, gently squeeze out excess water, spritz in a detangling spray or leave-in conditioner to help protect your hair, and use a wide-tooth comb to straighten out your locks.

8. You Skip Protectants

If you heat-style or spend a lot of time in the sun, it's important to take measures to protect your hair from their damaging effects. Always use a heat-protectant spray throughout your locks before styling with a hot tool to keep the breakage at a minimum. And if you foresee being in the sun for a few hours, try a UV-protectant spray or wear a hat to prevent your hair from drying out.

9. You Don't Wet Your Hair Before Swimming

Whether you're going for a dip in the ocean or a pool, both have elements to the water that can damage your hair— salt and chlorine, respectively. If you submerge your hair in either of these types of water while it is still dry, it absorbs the salt or chlorine, which cause dryness and can lead to brittleness and breakage. However, as Sally Hershberger stylist in New York, Chris Lospalluto, explained to HuffingtonPost.com, starting with wet hair acts as a coating. If your hair has absorbed fresh water first, it won't absorb as much salt or chlorine, thereby mitigating the damage that these elements can do.

10. You Skip Trims

If you're trying to grow your hair out, it could be tempting to let it just do its thing while foregoing your usual trips to get it trimmed. However, according to Oprah.com, it only takes about six weeks for your ends to start to break and fray. Because too many split ends can cause your hair to look dry and frizzy from all of the damage, try to trim your hair every two months to keep it looking healthy.

11. You're Lacking Nutrients

Sometimes, your appearance is a result of what's going on inside your body. So if your hair looks particularly fried but you don't practice any outwardly damaging habits like coloring and heat styling, it could be your diet. Your daily intake of vitamins and minerals is essential to keeping not only your body but also your hair healthy. Not sure what you're missing? Here are some pretty tasty foods to incorporate into your diet to make sure your hair stays healthy and strong.

12. Your Body Is Changing

Some other internal factors that could have an effect on the health of your hair are your natural, bodily processes. Hairstylist and founder of home blowout service, Blow Me, Sylvia Vaught, told WomensHealthMag.com, "Birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause are all times of physiological shifts within the body that can have an adverse effect on the hair, including dryness and brittleness." If you suspect that this is happening to you, Vaught recommends talking to your doctor about treatment options.

While none of these guarantee your hair will suddenly reach shampoo commercial-status, switching up your habits can have you well on your way to shinier strands.

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