Dull Hair – Causes, Treatments and Home Remedies

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Annie Jangam

What would you choose: long but dry and dull hair, or short and shiny hair? We all want lustrous hair as it signals more than just beauty. It means your hair is healthy. Healthy hair has a natural luster, while damaged hair looks lifeless and dull. Dull hair has separate or open cuticles that reflect light unevenly. Hence, sealing those can help restore your healthy, glossy locks. Here, we discuss the causes of dull hair and how you can fix the same. Keep reading.

What Causes Dull Hair?

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?

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

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.

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.
  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

  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

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.

Conclusion

Healthy hair has closed cuticles that reflect light, making your hair appear smooth and shiny. Humidity, UV exposure, excess use of hair dyes and bleaches, product build-up, and using products not suiting your hair type can open or damage your hair cuticles and make your hair dull. Fortunately, you can restore your hair sheen with the methods discussed in this post.

Sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Annie Jangam is a Molecular Biologist with 7 years of research experience in Rice Functional Genomics and Nutrient Signalling with International Publications in Abiotic stress, Nitrogen, and G-protein signaling. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has been an avid reader since childhood and is passionate about stories that help decipher life and its meaning. She believes in Human Rights for all and that one should "love others like we love ourselves."