Dry Hair

Best products for extremely dry hair

Dry hair leaving you exposed?

Dry hair is one of the most common hair complaints. Dryness can make your hair frazzled, dull and brittle – but with advanced products formulated for dry hair treatment, there’s plenty you can do to combat it.

Best dry hair treatments/products

Hairhouse Warehouse stocks the widest selection of salon-grade products in South Africa, including the best dry hair products and treatments on the market. For the best possible results, we recommend a four-step process.

For in-depth information about what causes dry hair, see our dry hair FAQ below.

Other products for dry hair

Dry Hair FAQ


One or more of these factors can all be causes of dry hair:

  • the way you treat your hair
  • your diet
  • hormonal changes
  • menopause and aging
  • a range of medications
  • certain medical conditions.

There’s a host of possible dry hair reasons. For example, you might have dry hair from straightening or treating your hair. You could have an iron or zinc deficiency, or another dry hair nutrition issue. Or you could simply have dry hair from swimming.

With dry hair hormones may also be the culprit. Changes in hormone levels affect the natural production of oil, or sebum. That’s why dry hair becomes more common as people age.

Genetics can play a role, too. For instance, your hair’s natural porosity will affect its ability to retain moisture.

Hormone levels – especially estrogen levels – directly affect the production of natural hair oils. They also regulate hair growth cycles.

Any drop in estrogen levels may contribute to hair thinning and dry hair.

Estrogen production naturally drops after pregnancy and with aging. That’s why “dry hair pregnancy”, “dry hair breastfeeding”, “dry hair menopause”, “dry hair from thyroid” and “dry hair low estrogen” are all common search terms.

It’s also why dry hair over 40 is common and dry hair over 60 is almost universal.

Any form of malnutrition can lead to dry, dull-looking hair. Certain mineral and vitamin deficiencies are especially common diet-related causes of dry hair.

Dry hair vegetarian/dry hair vegan? This could be because your diet is lacking in certain B vitamins, including biotin and vitamin B12. These are more readily available in meat, eggs and dairy products than in plant-based foods.

Simply eating more B12-fortified foods or taking supplements could help.

Another dry hair nutrition tip: increase your intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. That means eating more fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel and sardines.

Like the rest of your body, your hair relies on you to drink enough water. However, fluid intake is just one of many possible causes of dry hair.

Yes. Common diet-related causes of dry hair (and hair thinning) include low levels of zinc, iron, vitamin D or biotin.

Low iron levels or low levels of ferritin (a blood protein that stores iron) can cause significant hair thinning, as well as dry, lacklustre hair. The good news is that often, just taking an iron supplement can fix the problem. Do this only under a doctor’s supervision though – taking too much iron can be dangerous.

There may be a link between your hair type and dry hair.

Each hair has an outer layer called the cuticle. This consists of overlapping scales – special cells that are hardened and flattened, and that form a protective sheath.

Hair with low porosity has scales that lie tight against the hair cuticles. This makes it difficult for water and moisturising agents to penetrate.

To treat low porosity hair, use a conditioning mask for dry hair once a week or so, to infiltrate cuticles with moisture. In between, stick to gentle, cleansing shampoo and conditioner. Heavier products may “sit” on the hair and weigh it down.

Hair with high porosity has raised or damaged hair cuticle scales. It readily absorbs moisture. Unfortunately, it loses moisture just as easily.

To treat high porosity hair, use protein and deep conditioning treatments. Also use a product high in natural oils to seal the hair against further moisture loss.

Conditions often associated with brittle, dry hair include thyroid disorders, anorexia nervosa and other forms of malnutrition. These can all interfere with the hormones that regulate hair growth and the production of natural hair oils.

Skin disorders like psoriasis can also cause very dry hair and skin.

A wide range of medications can dry out your skin and hair, too. These include various anti-depressants, antibiotics, antifungals, acne medications, high blood pressure medication and many more.

Isotretinoin or 13-cis-retinoic acid, initially marketed as Accutane, is a prescription drug used to treat acne. Its possible side-effects include very dry hair and skin, as well as hair loss.

Even without medication, dry hair and acne sometimes go together. Acne occurs when hair follicles in your skin get clogged. Often, this is due to oily skin – but it can also be due to dead skin cells, associated with a dry scalp.

Yes. Swimming in salty or chemically treated water strips your hair of some of its natural oils. Before swimming, pre-treat with a serum or hair oil to protect your hair from moisture loss.

Highlights at a salon are unlikely to cause major dryness. However, any hair colouring or other chemical treatment can strip some natural oils from the hair.

Modern, salon-quality hair dyes are designed to minimise hair damage and restore moisture. Using DIY or cheaper dyes is likely to take a toll. Bleaching hair before dying it is also a major cause of dry, damaged hair.

Bleaching is notorious for stripping moisture from the hair.

Immediately after bleaching, avoid shampooing your hair for 24 to 48 hours.

To repair bleached hair, give it plenty of extra moisture and protein. If hair is badly damaged, trim it often, use an intensive conditioning treatment and protect new hair that grows out. Ideally, take a break from harsh chemical treatments and heat styling.

Any form of heat styling can contribute to dry hair.

If you frequently straighten your hair, it’s worth investing in a new-generation straightener that uses healing infrared rays.

Henna can dry out your hair. Try mixing oil with henna before applying, and add moisturising oil or serum to your hair afterwards.

You can get dry hair from hard water, which contains mineral salts that strip hair of natural oils. Mineral deposits can also accumulate in the hair and prevent it from absorbing moisture and conditioning agents.

For the same reasons, you can get dry hair from well water. Both can leave your hair coarse, dull, straw-like and prone to tangling.

To treat hair damaged by hard water, use a clarifying shampoo or a chelating shampoo, which causes minerals to bind with a metal so they wash out. Follow with intensive hair conditioning. Then lock the moisture in with oils, using a serum or mask.

Even if you live in a winter rainfall area, the air is drier in colder weather. Less moisture evaporates into the air, so there’s less humidity. Indoor heaters dry the air even more. All that dryness can take a toll on your hair.


Dry hair is often accompanied by a dry scalp. Like dry skin anywhere on your body, a dry scalp can cause itching. Especially if you scratch, it can also become inflamed – making it even itchier!

High-quality products for very dry hair treatment can help. They’re free of harsh chemicals and irritants, and leave your scalp (as well as your hair) soft and moisturised.

Note that dry scalp isn’t the same as dandruff. Dandruff is a form of seborrhoea dermatitis, caused largely by an overgrowth of yeast on the scalp. It’s more common if the scalp is oily.

No. Shedding occurs naturally. It’s part of the natural hair growth cycle, which is regulated by hormones. It doesn’t depend on the condition of the hair shaft.

Unlike hairs that have broken off, hairs you shed have small white root bulbs at their ends.

Causes of increased hair shedding include hormonal changes, malnutrition, some illnesses and certain medications. Too much pulling on the hair during styling or because of a tight ponytail can also cause hairs to shed.

Yes. Dryness makes your hair brittle and more likely to break. Dry hair and split ends also go hand in hand.

Dry hair doesn’t cause hair loss, although the two issues may go together.

Common causes of hair loss are:

  • heredity, especially in men
  • hormonal changes, for example after pregnancy or menopause
  • vitamin or mineral deficiencies
  • various drugs
  • medical conditions such as anaemia or thyroid disease
  • extreme stress or trauma
  • sustained traction on the hair.

Treatment for hair loss will depend on its cause. Once this is addressed, a gently cleansed, well-moisturised scalp is the best environment for encouraging new hair growth.

No. Dandruff is caused largely by an overgrowth of yeast on the scalp. A dry scalp is a separate condition. It can also result in itching and flaking, but the flakes are usually smaller and whiter than dandruff flakes.

For healthy hair, you need a healthy scalp. With the right dry hair treatment products, you can restore moisture to both.

Dry hair doesn’t cause headaches. However, anything compromising your health, including stress, can make your hair suffer too.

Having your hair tied up tightly can give you a headache. Some people also report getting headaches from sleeping with wet hair – possibly because their heads get too cold during the night.

Dryness doesn’t cause actual hair loss. However, it makes hair brittle and more likely to break or split.

Luckily, dry, damaged hair doesn’t stop growing. Protect and moisturise the new hair, and it should grow out shiny and healthy.


Dry hair repair products with the right combinations of hydrating and moisturising ingredients can restore dry hair.

Experts agree that the best approach to dry hair treatment involves four steps:

  1. use a gentle dry hair shampoo to wash out any build-up of minerals and chemicals, without stripping more oils from your hair
  2. use a dry hair conditioner to hydrate the hair; a good moisturising conditioner for dry hair also helps repair and protect your hair
  3. at least once or twice a week, use a mask to intensively condition and repair dry hair
  4. seal in the moisture and protect from further damage using an oil hair treatment.

Vitamins recommended for dry hair include biotin (vitamin B7), vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

Yes. Products with the right mix of hydrating and conditioning ingredients can restore moisture to hair cuticles and then lock that moisture in.

Use a gentle shampoo designed for babies, and avoid washing the hair too often. It can help to massage a little baby oil into the scalp.

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant oils, usually obtained by distillation. Certain essential oils are recommended for treating dry hair and are often included in dry hair treatment products.

Examples are:

  • coconut oil, almond oil or jojoba oil, for soothing and conditioning
  • Moroccan argan oil, for moisturising hair and adding antioxidants
  • rosemary oil, for promoting hair growth (see this study from Medical News Today)
  • clary sage, thyme or peppermint oil, for increasing circulation to the scalp
  • lavender oil, for conditioning the hair and adding shine
  • horsetail plant oil, which contains naturally occurring silica.

Even if hair is dry, the right, moisturising hair products can restore lustre and make it feel silky.

The best shampoos for dry hair are free of harsh chemicals and potential irritants, like sulfates (especially sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS) and parabens. They cleanse without causing product build-up, and include natural oils for replenishing moisture.

See the Shampoos for dry hair section above for some of the best dry hair shampoos available in South Africa

Dry hair oil is an oil-based treatment designed to coat the hair cuticles, locking in moisture and protecting the hair from damage. See above for some of the best hair oil products currently on the market.

Dry hair spray is an oil-infused spray designed to add moisture and shine to hair.

Dry hair wax is hair styling wax that’s designed to aid styling, add texture and tame frizz.

Dry hair conditioner is formulated specifically to restore moisture to the hair. It contains nourishing, hydrating ingredients, often including natural oils.

See the Conditioners for dry hair section above for some of the best dry hair conditioners in South Africa.

Wash dry hair with a decent quality shampoo that’s formulated to cleanse without stripping away natural oils. Follow with a moisturising conditioner and then lock in moisture with an oil-based treatment.

The most effective dry hair treatment involves four steps:
1) use a dry hair shampoo to cleanse gently, without stripping the hair of more moisture
2) hydrate and nourish the hair using a dry hair conditioner
3) deep condition and repair hair by using a mask once or twice a week
4) between washes, moisturise and protect against moisture loss using a dry hair oil treatment.