Do you feel like you woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and asked yourself, “Why is my hair so dry and frizzy? What happened to my hair?” If you are in your perimenopause or menopause years, dry hair can be a rude awakening. Just when you thought the hot flashes and weight gain were enough, your vibrant hair seems to have transformed into a dry, frizzy mess.
What is dry hair?
Everyone has a different hair type: some have naturally oily hair, others have very dry locks, and many are somewhere in between. Dry hair develops when the scalp doesn’t produce enough oil to moisturize your hair, or your hair doesn’t retain the moisture. Symptoms of dry hair include hair that is dull, brittle, and frizzy.
Factors that contribute to or cause dry hair include:
- Dry scalp, when your roots don’t make enough oil to keep it moisturized.
- Getting older, because your hair makes less oil with age.
- Health challenges, such as eating disorders, thyroid problems.
- Environmental factors, such as a dry, hot climate, frequent exposure to wind, sunlight, salty water, or chlorinated water.
- Haircare, such as washing hair too often, blow-drying, use of straighteners or curling irons, harsh shampoo, use of dyes and perms.
- Genetics…and we don’t have control over that!
What about menopause and dry hair?
As hormone levels change, the body responds in scores of ways. One of those ways is drier, more brittle hair. According to Alicia Stanton, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist and author of Hormone Harmony, “Estrogen helps keep things hydrated and plump and youthful-looking.” That refers not only to our skin but to our hair as well. Because oil glands in the skin and scalp shrink after menopause, your hair can become drier and look frizzy. If you straighten, color, blow-dry, or perm your hair, you will increase the amount of damage to the hair.
As women go through perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause, numerous signs and symptoms of dry hair, hair loss, and thinner hair become apparent. For example, you may see more hairs in your hairbrush or on your pillow, a smaller ponytail or braids, hair that breaks off easily, and patches of missing or thinning hair.
How to manage dry hair naturally?
You can take many steps to help moisturize dry hair, reduce the amount of drying and frizziness, and improve the overall appearance and health of your hair.
- Feed your hair a healthy diet. A plant-based food plan rich in protein, complex carbs, biotin, iron, omega-3s, zinc, flavonoids, and vitamins A, C, D, and E promotes hair health.
- Avoid stress on your hair, such as putting it in a ponytail or braids, rough brushing, blow-drying, straightening, or curling. If you must use hair styling techniques that can damage your hair, keep them to a minimum and use low heat.
- Reduce stress by practicing meditation, journaling, tai chi, progressive relaxation, visualization, fun exercise, or other relaxing techniques daily.
- Stay well hydrated. Moisturizing can begin from the inside out!
- Wear a hat outdoors to protect your hair and scalp from sun exposure.
- Wash your hair often enough to remove excess oil and dead skin but not so often as to promote dryness.
- Avoid hair products that contain sulfates, parabens, and other chemicals.
- Shop for all-natural shampoos and conditioners for your hair.
- Avoid coloring, perming, or bleaching your hair. These are major hair drying processes!
- Trim your split ends.
- Condition your hair using an all-natural conditioner. You might also try one of the following home remedies:
- Mash ½ avocado and add a few drops of peppermint essential oil. After you shampoo your hair and squeeze out the water, massage in the avocado mask and let it stay in for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
- Combine 1 pureed banana with 1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil. Massage into your hair and scalp and leave it on for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and shampoo.
Remember, all of these strategies will take some time to work. Be patient!
when to see a health provider
If you are experiencing weakness, fatigue, hair loss, or an intolerance to cold along with dry hair, consult your doctor to determine if you have a health issue that can be resolved. Thyroid hormone levels can decline in menopausal women, which can contribute to dry hair.
Dry hair is a common symptom of the menopausal years. Don’t stress! (which can only make it worse). Instead, incorporate lifestyle changes and strategies to help keep your hair as vibrant as possible.