Dull Hair Causes, Treatments, And Useful Home Remedies

Using the right products, like leave-in conditioners, serums, and hairspray, can volumize flat tresses.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS
By Annie Jangam

Dull hair – just the thought of it sends women into a state of panic. Everyone dreams of flaunting shiny, glossy locks as it is not only a mark of beauty but also a sign of good health. Healthy hair has a natural shine, while damaged hair looks dull and lifeless. When your hair cuticles open up and separate due to damage, they reflect light unevenly, which makes your locks look dull. Learn what causes dull hair and how to restore its natural luster with home remedies in this article. Keep reading!

What Causes Dull Hair?

Back view of a woman's dull hair

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Anything that damages the hair cuticles can lead to dry, dull, and lifeless hair. Dry or damaged hair has separate and uneven hair cuticles and looks dull, rough, and lackluster. Dirt, excess oils, dead skin cells, product build-up, and dandruff flakes can make hair dull.

Dull hair has multiple causes:

  • Extreme weather (harsh winds, high humidity, sun exposure, and UV rays)
  • Medical conditions (hormonal imbalance, stress)
  • Mechanical stress (aggressive hair brushing, tight hairstyles)
  • Bad hair care practices (improper rinsing, overuse of dry shampoos, over-styling with hair colors, perms and styling tools, product build-up, using hard water to wash your hair)
  • Nutritional deficiencies

These conditions may also cause one’s hair to go dry. That said, is dull hair the same as dry hair?

Is Dull Hair The Same As Dry Hair?

Woman spreads out her dull hair which has a matted texture and does not have a healthy looking shine

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Dull and dry hair types often go hand in hand. They are rough to touch and difficult to manage. However, dry hair can be caused by a lack of moisturization (oil) and hydration (water), while dull hair denotes the matte texture of hair (a consequence of having dry hair).

Dull hair lacks the reflective shine of healthy hair due to damaged cuticles. It is more frizzy (usually like a halo) and weighs your hair down.

Though dull and dry hair are related, they are not exactly the same. The good news is that taking care of your hair can help you treat both these conditions. Find out more in the next section.

How To Fix Dry, Dull Hair And Restore Hair Luster

Back view of woman using hair spray on her dull hair to restore its shine

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There are a few quick tips to restore hair shine. These are temporary but show results. If you are looking for a permanent solution, you must have a dedicated hair care routine.

Firstly, we have listed the products that can instantly boost your hair shine.

  1. Hairspray: Hairsprays contain light-reflecting ingredients or shine boosters that add that extra gloss and instant shine to your hair.
  1. Leave-in Conditioners: These hair care products form a protective coating on the hair strands. They prevent moisture loss and preserve natural scalp oils, keeping the hair from looking dull and dry. They usually contain keratin that strengthens the hair.
  1. Conditioning Serums: Applying nourishing serums (especially to the hair ends) can smoothen the hair cuticles and restore hair shine.
Stylecraze Says
Use these products on freshly washed hair to avoid adding more product residue to your hair. Also, avoid using these products on the scalp.

These products work effectively to make your hair shiny. However, the following hair care practices can address the root cause and give you better results.

  1. Air-dry Your Hair: Although blow-drying properly can help smoothen hair and add shine, their excess heat can damage hair in the long run. Ensure you use a thermal protectant every time you use hot styling tools.
  1. Use The Right Products For Your Hair Type: Most often, we use products not suitable for our specific hair type or texture. Remember that if you have colored or processed hair, you must go for products specially formulated with SPF for UV protection. Similarly, deep conditioners will not suit dull hair. They may only weigh your hair down further. The same goes for using oil-based serums on fine hair. Lighter glosses will not add shine to coarse hair.
  1. Avoid Frequent Shampooing: Shampooing often can strip moisture from your hair and damage the cuticles. Avoid products with alcohol, parabens, and sulfates that may leave your hair looking dull and dry.
  1. Avoid Conditioning The Hair Roots: Applying a conditioner to the hair roots will make your hair dull and flat. Ideally, use the conditioner from your hair’s mid-length to the tips (where it is most dry). Doing this will add hydration to your hair and restore your hair cuticles. Hydration will strengthen your hair and boost hair elasticity. It also will make your hair less prone to breakage.
  1. Limit The Use Of Dry Shampoos: Dry shampoos keep your hair fresh between washes. But they also often leave a white residue that causes hair to go dull. Clean hair reflects light better than dirty or product-laden hair. We recommend you use a clarifying shampoo to remove product residue from your scalp.
  1. Rinse Your Hair Properly: Anecdotal evidence suggests that cold rinses seal hair cuticles and leave hair smooth and shiny. Proper rinsing will get rid of the residual styling products that lead to dull hair. Rinse your hair thoroughly after shampooing and conditioning.
  1. Get Regular Hair Treatments And Trims: Regular use of hair treatments (protein, keratin), professional deep conditioning treatments, hair spas, and masks can help restore natural hair luster. Hair ends usually lack moisture and appears dry and dull. Regular hair trips can help prevent split ends too.
Stylecraze Says
Avoid keratin treatment if your hair is already damaged and you are experiencing hair fall.
  1. Brush Your Hair Regularly: Brushing your hair distributes the natural oils along its length. It also helps remove the excess styling product from hair.
  1. Be Gentle: Excessive or aggressive brushing can damage hair. This is especially true if your hair is damp or wet. Similarly, vigorously drying your hair with a towel will damage the cuticles and cause your hair to go dull and rough. Using tight hair ties, scrunchies, or banana clips can be harsh on your hair too. Try to use silk ties or pillowcases to reduce frizz and hair breakage.
  1. Follow A Healthy Diet: Follow a healthy diet with adequate proteins,omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. These are essential for proper hair growth.

You may also try certain home remedies to keep your hair healthy and manage frizz. These also help restore hair hydration and shine. While these are not backed by scientific research, anecdotal evidence suggests they may show results.

Home Remedies For Dull Hair

Woman applying oil to her hair to get rid of dullness

Shutterstock

  1. Baking Soda: Baking soda is an excellent cleansing agent. It dissolves the grime and grease from your hair without leaving it dry and dull. You can add a teaspoon of baking soda to your shampoo for effective results. You may try this method if you think shampoo alone is not cleansing the hair and scalp well.
  1. Hair Oil: Use hair oils as pre-wash before shampooing. Scalp massages with moisturizing oils (natural emollients) improve blood circulation and promote healthy and shiny hair(1). They also boost hair hydration.
  1. Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy to get frizz-free, shiny hair. It is usually used as an after-rinse to flatten hair cuticles. Dilute ACV with equal parts water and use the mixture to rinse your hair.
  1. Avocado: Avocado is nutrient-dense and is particularly rich in healthy fatty acids (oleic acids) that moisturize skin and hair. You can mash one ripe avocado and apply it to your hair. Wash it off after 15 minutes with water. You can also add eggs or yogurt for added benefits. Using this hair mask (below) once a week will help you manage hair frizz and add shine to your hair.

Avocado And Yogurt Hair Mask

Ingredients for an avocado and yogurt hair mask for dull hair

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You Will Need

  • 1 ripe, medium-sized avocado
  • 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt
  • 2-4 tablespoons of coconut oil

Process

  1. Mash the avocado and mix it with the yogurt and coconut oil.
  2. Apply the mask to your scalp and hair thoroughly.
  3. Leave it on for 20 minutes. You can cover it with a shower cap to prevent any mess.
  4. Rinse with warm or cold water and shampoo your hair.

Lifeless, damaged, and dull hair is a nightmare for most of us. Your hair looks dull when the hair cuticles are damaged, and they reflect light, making your hair strands look dull and lifeless. Environmental factors, medications, stress, deficiencies, and harsh hair products are also causes of dull hair. Following a proper hair care routine will help you restore your dry and dull hair. The tips and home remedies mentioned in the article will help you get back your hair sheen. Also, do a patch test before applying any new product.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my hair dull after washing?

Your hair remains dull even after washing when it does not retain enough moisture and nutrients. One of the reasons could be excessive exposure to the sun or heat styling. Take a break from heat styling and let your hair dry naturally. Additionally, check your diet and re-examine the products you use on your hair to check if they contain any harmful ingredients.

How can I make my natural hair shiny?

Regularly massaging your hair and scalp with oil will nourish dry hair and scalp. You may use almond oil, coconut oil, argan oil, or olive oil. Also, make sure you use a clarifying shampoo once a week to clear off any product build-up.

Key Takeaways

  • Dull hair is caused by stress, hormonal changes, high humidity, and bad hair care practices.
  • You can try leave-in conditioners along with proper hair care, and a healthy diet will add shine to your dull hair.
  • Avocado, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar are natural ways to keep your hair hydrated and shiny.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/
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Annie Jangam is a researcher-turned-content writer. She enjoys dissecting complex clinical studies and shuffling through the scientific jargon to make... more

Dr. Shruti Chavan

(MBBS)
Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee... more

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