Damaged, splitting ends? Hair that’s brittle to the touch? If these common hair woes sound all too familiar, then your locks are clearly crying out for moisture. In addition to reaching for more hydrating hair products the next time you wash and style your strands, there are a few well-proven ways to help moisturize dry hair from within.
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Before we dive in, though, let’s clear one thing up: the difference between dry and damaged. “It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg concept, which one came first,” explains Mara Davidson, ND. “When dry hair appears, it can feel brittle and the ends can be split. Damaged hair can be dry and unhealthy as well, but damage is perhaps more related to some kind of cause, maybe from frequent exposure to excess heat and/or harsh chemicals, which can then lead to your hair being dry as a result.”
Similarly, factors like harsh chemicals, excessive heat use, lack of nutrients, being dehydrated, and even washing hair too frequently can contribute to dry strands. Fortunately, though, there are a few key ways to tackle hair health from the inside out — and we’re sharing some of the best natural ways to replenish what’s been lost. Here, Dr. Davidson walks us through five of the best ways to combat hair dryness from within.
1. Incorporate more healthy fats into your diet
It’s high time that we reverse the negative association of the word “fat” in regard to food, because certain healthy fats are essential to our health and wellbeing. Among these “good” or “healthy” fats are omega-3 fatty acids. When we consume omega-3 fatty acids in our diet, it “can be quite nutritive for the body, including the hair and skin, and can assist in supporting healthy inflammatory processes in the body as well,” Davidson explains.
Foods that have high levels of omega-3s include fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, and on the plant-based side, avocados, almonds, and walnuts. One thing to note: “Everyone’s dietary requirements vary, so it is important to speak with your doctor to help find the appropriate daily amount for you,” Davidson says.
2. Take a fish oil supplement
Another route to consuming more omega-3 fatty acids is by taking a supplement — specifically, fish oil. “Fish oils can be a great source of concentrated amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly if you are having a difficult time incorporating animal-based omega-3-rich foods into your diet,” Davidson says. “Available in liquid, capsule, or pill form, fish oil can provide quite impactful support in various areas throughout the body and may as a consequence be reflected in healthier hair.”
As always, reach out to your doctor before taking any new supplements. Although generally regarded as safe by many, fish oil is not for everyone. Davidson always recommends checking with your doctor before adding a fish oil supplement to your daily routine to make sure it’s the correct choice for you.
3. Use Nutrafol
Nutrafol is a natural hair supplement that is fortified with marine collagen, which is known to promote healthy hair and diffusion of nutrients in the scalp, and amino acids, which support keratin production and add strength to hair fibers. The supplement’s silicic acid increases tensile strength and thickness of the hair, reducing brittleness from within.
Nutrafol also includes vitamin C, which is a necessary cofactor for collagen synthesis, and vitamin A and zinc. “Vitamin A and zinc, which are ingredients in Nutrafol’s Core, can help balance oils in the scalp,” Davidson says. This powerful combination helps your hair grow in healthy, shiny, and strong — not dry and weak.
4. Drink enough water
It turns out that the old wives’ tale is true: Drinking more water does help your skin and hair health, as adequate hydration is essential for nearly all bodily functions (including growing healthy, moisturized hair). In fact, every single cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water in order to work properly. “Many people aren’t even aware that they are actually dehydrated, [and] when you are dehydrated the entire body can be affected in several ways,” Davidson explains. “Some examples include dry skin, dizziness, headaches, feeling tired, and even perhaps dry lips.”
Another example is — you guessed it — parched strands. “Just as you can experience dehydration with the observation of dry skin and even dry, brittle nails, it stands to reason that not having sufficient hydration in the body may lead to dry, dehydrated, brittle hair, and potentially even loss,” Davidson says. But you want to be careful to not over-hydrate, either, so your best plan of attack is as follows: Aim to drink at least six cups of water daily, and that number should increase if you exercise or sweat a lot (such as on a hot day). Again here, everyone’s body is different, so if you suspect that your water intake levels are off, make an appointment with your doctor.
5. Try bone broth
Quick science lesson: Hair is made up of keratin, which is a protein, and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. It stands to reason, then, that consuming those nutrients would help promote healthy hair — and one of the best ways to do so is by drinking bone broth. “Try drinking one or two cups of bone broth per day,” Davidson recommends. “This is a nice way to take in collagen, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.”
Bone broth has become so trendy that you can easily find pre-made versions at your local grocery store, or a quick Google search will tell you how to make your own version (usually with chicken, turkey, or beef bones). Another bonus: “Not only does this broth help promote gut health, but may also be quite supportive in obtaining healthy hair,” Davidson says.