Just like our skin looses its natural youthful radiance with age, so does our hair. And considering how much wear and tear our hair can go through on a daily basis from “product build up, excessive heat and even dry air,” says Guy Tang, celebrity hairstylist and founder of #Mydentity, it’s no wonder why we’re dealing with dull hair. Thankfully, Tang says it’s easy to restore lock luster after you identify the causes of it. To learn more on the culprits of dull hair and the simple strategies to boost strand shine, keep scrolling.
The 6 top causes of dull hair
There’s not just one single culprit behind a mane that’s lost its shine. In fact, several reasons can contribute to dullness, which at its core, happens at the cuticle level. “When the cuticle is damaged or raised, it can give the effect of dull hair,” says Rodney Cutler, celebrity hairstylist and owner of Cutler Salon in New York City and Miami. The good news is you can fight back against some of these underlying causes once you identify them. Read on for the most common reasons your hair has lost its luster.
Dull hair cause #1: The natural aging process
“As we age, our hair tends to produce less natural oil, which can lead to drier and duller strands,” says Danielle Priano, celebrity hairstylist partnered with SexyHair. “Hormonal changes can also affect hair’s shine and texture.”
Dull hair cause #2: Exposure to harsh outdoor elements
Time spent in cold or “dry air will suck all the moisture out of your hair, which over time will start to appear dull,” says Tang. And the same is true for exposing strands to the sun and hot temperatures.
Dull hair cause #3: Overuse of hot tools
Priano says that frequently using heat on hair can cause damage and dullness. That’s because high heat saps the moisture that gives hair its natural shine.
Dull hair cause #4: Forgoing frequent trims
Cutler notes that when you don’t get your hair trimmed regularly “and it has been exposed to elements over an extended period of time, that can cause dull hair.”
Dull hair cause #5: Product build-up on your strands
“Overuse of hair products, especially those containing silicones and heavy waxes, can coat the hair, making it look dull,” says Priano.
Dull hair cause #6: Over-coloring and over-processing your hair
“Chemical treatments, like coloring or perms, can strip hair of its natural oils and proteins, leading to a less lustrous appearance,” says Priano.
How to outsmart dull hair
Now that you know what’s at work behind dull hair, you can take some simple steps to avoid some of the above causes.
Use a clarifying shampoo once a month
Priano says regularly deep cleansing or clarifying plays a chief role in product build-up prevention. Get the benefits by using a clarifying shampoo like Nexxus Clean & Pure Clarifying Nourishing ProteinFusion Shampoo (Buy from Walmart, $13.17) once a month to remove residue and impurities that have coated hair. And for extra shine always use a cool rinse before you get out of the shower, recommends Cutler.
Relax with a deep-conditioning mask once a week
As far as correcting the damage done from over-coloring and over-processing, Priano and Tang are both big fans of using deep conditioning masks (for one you can make yourself, keep scrolling). Working these formulas into your hair care regimen can help replenish moisture loss and shore up your tresses’ defense against future damage as well.
Spray on a heat protectant before styling
Additionally, both also suggest using a heat protectant like Beat the Heat Thermal Styling Spray (Buy from Ulta, $6.99) before styling hair with hot tools. Also smart? While blow-drying, blow air from roots to ends to control the direction of the heat. Cutler says this will help close the cuticle and, again, help hair appear more luminous. Bonus points if you can use less than the highest temperature to get the job done.
Trim frequently + blot and brush daily
Sometimes small changes can help with hair dullness, too, especially at the cuticle level of hair. Cutler recommends getting your hair trimmed consistently and avoiding rubbing hair excessively when towel drying it. Both of these habits can help keep the cuticle intact, which, in turn, creates the look of shine.
Daily hair brushing is also important, adds Tang. Brushing helps remove excess hair products and redistributes the natural oils in your hair throughout your entire head for a lustrous mane.
Consider investing in a humidifier
To combat hair-dehydrating indoor heat during the colder months, Tang suggests plugging in a humidifier. It will boost the moisture levels in your home and he adds that this ends up “keeping your hair looking healthier” and shinier.
Bonus: Tweaking your diet can help, too
Priano touts the hair health benefits of a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and antioxidants, which can all moisturize hair from the inside-out for added shine.
2 DIY treatments that revive dull hair
These at-home remedies from Priano can help restore brilliance to dull hair. Best of all, you likely have all of the ingredients in your kitchen.
1. Apple cider vinegar hair rinse
The malic acid in apple cider vinegar gently removes dulling product buildup on hair and seals its cuticle to take hair from dull to dazzling fast.
To do: Dilute ½ cup of apple cider vinegar in 1½ cups of water. Pour all over damp hair after shampooing. Let sit 1 minute, then rinse. Repeat twice a month as needed.
2. An egg, honey and olive oil hair mask
Whipping up a hair mask made with egg (its protein strengthens strands), honey (it hydrates hair) and olive oil (its antioxidants mend damage) deeply nourishes dull hair and restores shine.
To do: Mix one egg with 1 Tbs. each of honey and olive oil. Apply allover damp or dry hair, then cover with a shower cap for 20 minutes; rinse with cool water. Use once a week as needed.
The best products that add shine to dull hair
Don’t want to DIY? These expert-recommended products can restore shine back to your hair fast.
SexyHair Gloss N’ Glow Rinse (Buy from Amazon, $24.95)
According to Priano, this lightweight treatment features a unique blend of acids, like lactic and glycolic acids, that moisturize damaged hair and restore shine. And it takes just 8 seconds to work its hydrating wonders! Simply apply all over damp hair post-shampooing and rinse out almost immediately.
Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate 5 Minute Mask (Buy from Ulta, $36)
Cutler likes this mask for its rehydrating and strengthening properties thanks to its content of glycerin and citric acid. Use it weekly on wet hair after shampooing (in lieu of conditioner) for mega shine. One reviewer on the brand’s website even said: “This mask was like an instant fountain of youth for my hair; I am so grateful to have found it because it brought my hair back to life!”
#MyIdentity #MyHero Nourishing Shampoo (Buy from Amazon, $25.60)
Your regular cleansing product might not be pulling its weight, so Tang recommends choosing a shampoo that’s formulated for retaining maximum moisture. This shampoo from his line “includes aloe and hyaluronic acid, which will give your hair a natural shine” and restore hydration to a dull, parched head of hair.
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