Dry hair and damaged hair are kind of like fraternal twins. Each hair condition shares a few similar characteristics, like frizz and breakage. They are easily confused, but not identical. Distinguishing between the two is important when it comes to care.
Celebrity hairstylist Matt Rez finds that people with damaged hair often pick up moisture-rich products, thinking the hydration will make their hair stronger, shinier, and smoother. Unfortunately, it can have the opposite effect.
“Moisture-rich shampoos should be used when hair is parched or dry,” says Rez. “Dry hair is frizzy and needs the humectants of a moisture-rich shampoo to feel softer.”
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Damaged hair, on the other hand? “Unlike dry hair, damaged hair is brittle when dry and may be stretchy and noodle-like when wet. This is when you need protein-rich shampoos and products to help rebuild the hair shaft and make it stronger.”
Using a moisture-rich shampoo on damaged hair can make the shaft softer and more prone to breakage. This explains why hairstylists tend to urge those with damaged hair to cut down on the number of weekly shampoos.
Two of my favorite protein-rich shampoos are Kérastase Resistance Bain Thérapiste Shampoo ($43; kerastase-usa.com) and Nexxus Keraphix Shampoo for Damaged Hair ($12; walmart.com). Both utilize amino acids and protein-rich ingredients to rebuild the hair shaft, while gently moisturizing.
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So how can you tell the difference between dry and damaged hair? If you have a heat-heavy routine or have just dyed your hair, you’re likely dealing with a combo of both. If you’ve never undergone color processing or infrequently use heat tools, your hair is probably parched.
The best way to figure it out, though, is to talk to your hairstylist about your routine and the products you use, and let them make the final call and map out your road to recovery.