The Reason Your Hair Looks Dull May Surprise You

by Miki Hayes
Young woman dries her long brown hair with a hair dryer looking to the mirror. Attractive female pro...
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If you find too often that your hair appears dull and lackluster, it might not necessarily mean that you just need shine-enhancing treatments or oils. Instead, there could be some surprising things that make your hair look dull. Because shiny hair is actually a sign of healthy hair, it's important to take notice if your strands are perpetually lacking a little luster, or if you just have the occasional off-day.

If you find that your locks are regularly dull, it's time to evaluate your lifestyle and the ways you care for your hair. There could be some things you're overlooking that are actually factors that contribute to the health of your hair. More importantly though, your hair's health could even be a reflection of your own health. So it's important to find the root-cause of what is making your hair less shiny. To better understand what some of these reasons could be, I spoke with Master Colorist at Mizu New York salon, Raisa Cabrera, and Macadamia Professional International Creative Director and celebrity hair stylist, Giannandrea. Here are seven surprising factors that could be dulling your shine, and what to do to make sure your hair is actually healthy and looks the part too.

1. Lack of Nutrients


Giannandrea and Cabrera both let me know that hair health is related to overall health. "Having a well-balanced diet prevents hair damage, hair loss and many other hair-related problems," says Giannandrea. He recommends making sure you include enough fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins in your diet. Cabrera added to be wary of diet shakes and synthetic foods as these can contribute to dryness and dullness as well.

2. Dehydration


According to Cabrera, staying hydrated is key for having healthy skin and hair. She recommends paying attention to your daily intake of liquids, as drinks such as coffee and wine should not replace your intake of water — they won't hydrate you as well as good ol' water can.

3. Chlorine/Salt


The chlorine from pools can wreak havoc on hair. Giannandrea explains that when chlorine penetrates the hair's cuticle, it strips it of keratin and natural oils, causing dullness and texture-damage. Salt from the ocean can also be dehydrating for strands, likewise causing dullness. Protect your locks by rinsing them with tap water before entering a chlorinated pool. If your hair is already saturated with water, it's harder for chlorine to penetrate. And before hitting the beach, protect your hair with a leave-in treatment that will guard against UV rays, color fading, dryness, and dullness.

4. Hard Water

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Hard water (or water that is high in minerals) can really do a number on hair. It can cause buildup and make your hair look and feel dry and dull. If you live in an area with hard water, Giannandrea recommends using a shower filter to help eliminate some of the properties that are keeping your hair from looking less than its best.

5. Over-Bleaching/Dyeing


Giannandrea let me know that over-bleaching or dark coloring can lead to a "dramatic decrease of natural shine." If you regularly color your hair, he suggests finding the right shampoo and conditioner to help protect your hair, as well as using a more intensive, color-safe treatment mask to help prevent dryness and restore shine.

6. Irregular Washing

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Not washing your hair on a regular basis can make hair "dull, oily and [so] the cuticle remains open attracting dust and dirt particles from the environment," according to Giannandrea. So not only should you try to stick to a hair-washing schedule, but he also suggests rinsing with cold water at the end of your wash to seal the cuticles.

7. Irregular Maintenance

Another way to keep hair cuticles sealed to better reflect light, according to Giannandrea, is to routinely brush your hair. "The main key for shine is a combination of brushing with a natural boar-bristle brush and applying a good hair oil — this will do magic for shiny, healthy looking hair." And that's what we're really striving for here, right?

Image: Getty Images (7); Kenny Suleimanagich/Bustle