Hair Feels Like Straw? (10 Causes + Solutions Explained)

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Dry, brittle, straw-like hair is typically caused by a loss of moisture. Just like your skin, your hair follicles need plenty of moisture to stay soft, smooth, and easily pliable.

There are a few reasons why you might have dry hair – and most of these issues can be resolved by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • If your hair feels like straw, it’s likely caused by a lack of moisture.
  • Your hair might lose moisture due to over-frequent washing, UV rays from the sun, chlorine exposure, hard water, rough brushing, and certain climates.
  • You can prevent dry and brittle hair by eating a healthy diet and avoiding the things that have a negative effect on your hair texture.

πŸ˜₯ Why Does My Hair Feel Like Straw?

You might think that you were simply born with dry hair. However, while it’s true that genetics do play a role in hair type, and your hair might be more prone to dryness, that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to have brittle, straw-like hair for the rest of your life.

There’s usually at least one influencing factor – oftentimes several factors – that make your hair more likely to be dry and brittle. These include excessive heat styling tools, using the wrong conditioner and hair masks, showering in chlorinated water or hard water, not eating the right diet, and much more.

We’re not exactly taught about hair health at school, so don’t be surprised if you’re guilty of contributing to your hair’s dryness problems without even realizing.

Woman wondering "why does my hair feel like straw?"

πŸ“‹ Hair Feels Like Straw: 10 Causes And Solutions

Let’s take a look at the most likely reasons for straw-like hair, and how you can resolve them.

Cause 1: Washing Your Hair Too Frequently

The most common cause of straw-like hair is going overboard on your hair-care routine.

Many people believe that if they don’t wash their hair frequently, it’ll become greasy – so they have to wash it every day.

The truth is that washing your hair every day actually causes the hair to become greasy faster because shampoo strips the natural hair oils, so the hair then tries to replenish them faster.

Not only that, but over-washing your hair and constantly removing these natural oils dries your hair out, so you’ll end up with brittle strands and more split ends.

βœ… How To Resolve

You can avoid the side effects of over-washing your hair by simply cutting back on your hair routine.

Most hairdressers recommend only washing your hair every 4-5 days at most. If this sounds impossible to you, try training your hair to adapt to a wash every other day, then every three days, and so on.

You’ll have a few greasy days, but your hair will quickly adapt to your new routine, and it should soon start to feel softer and smoother.

Cause 2: Chlorine Exposure

Chlorine exposure is another major cause of brittle hair. If you’re a swimmer and you spend a lot of time in swimming pools, you’ll probably notice the effects of chlorine damage. Even showering in chlorinated water could damage your hair and lead to dryness.

Like over-washing, chlorine strips your hair’s oils and weakens your hair strands, leading to split ends and potentially even hair loss.

βœ… How To Resolve

If you can, try to limit your chlorine exposure or wear a swimming cap to prevent your hair from coming into contact with chlorine when you’re in the pool.

You can install a shower filter to remove chlorine and other chemicals from the water you shower in at home, which will help you to avoid chlorine exposure day-to-day.

Showering wtih the luxsego ionic pure shower filter
source: Woman Showering with Luxsego Ionic Pure,

Cause 3: Using Heat Styling Tools Excessively

Blow dryers, hair straighteners, curling irons, and other heat tools change the shape of your hair’s keratin (hair protein) strands.

Over-use of these tools, or using these tools without heat protection, will result in damaged hair with a lack of elasticity that’s more prone to breakage and split ends.

βœ… How To Resolve

The best way to resolve dry hair caused by hot tools is to ditch the tools altogether. Instead of hair drying with a blow dryer, let your hair air-dry. Try plaiting your hair or using other non-heat methods of styling.

If you can’t live without the heat tools, lower the heat setting and make sure to always use heat-protective hair products.

Cause 4: Using The Wrong Type Of Conditioner

Many of us don’t realize that there are different conditioner types designed for different hair types.

  • Lightweight conditioners are best for fine hair because they’re gentle and strengthening.
  • Medium-to-wavy hair is prone to frizziness and should be treated by a conditioner that’s designed to control frizz and smooth your hair’s texture.
  • Heavier formulations provide the best nourishment for curly hair.

If you use a conditioner for the wrong hair type, it won’t nourish and protect your hair as it should, which could potentially leave your hair under-nourished and brittle.

βœ… How To Resolve

The solution to this problem is simple: choose a conditioner that’s made for your hair type.

Not sure what your hair type is? Ask your hairdresser – they should be able to tell you straight away.

Woman using hair conditioner

Cause 5: Rough Brushing Or Combing

If you swear by the “100 brushes a day” rule to keep your hair soft, you might actually be doing it more harm than good.

Our hair strands are delicate, and over-brushing or brushing too roughly will cause friction and damage the cuticle (the outer layer of the strand). As a result, you’ll end up with dry, brittle hair that’s more prone to breakage.

βœ… How To Resolve

Make sure to only brush your hair enough to untangle any knots and kinks.

Speaking of knots, be gentle when you find one. We recommend using a brush that’s kinder to hair, like a Tangle Teezer, which makes it easier to smooth out knots without causing damage.

Cause 6: Using Cheap Haircare Products

When it comes to hair products, the fewer and the more natural ingredients, the better.

Many hair shampoos and conditioners contain a whole host of harmful chemicals that are used to preserve the products, but are known to have side effects including hair loss, dryness, and brittleness.

βœ… How To Resolve

You can often avoid these ingredients by spending a bit more on your haircare products.

Make sure you’re aware of which harmful shampoo ingredients you should avoid, and look for sulfate-free shampoos and products that are labeled as “natural” and “organic”.

Cause 7: Washing In Hard Water

Hard water is another likely cause of dry, straw hair. Calcium and magnesium minerals build up on your hair cuticles and form a film called soap scum, which prevents moisture from your shampoos and conditioners from penetrating your hair.

If your home has hard water and you notice that your hair feels dry and almost sticky after a shower, you’ve found the cause of the dryness.

βœ… How To Resolve

The only way to prevent hair damage due to showering in hard water is to change the chemistry of your water to make it soft.

You can install a water softener at the main water line into your home, which will turn hard water into soft water that’s unable to form soap scum and won’t make your hair feel like straw.

Related: Is limescale harmful?

Water filtration system and salt based ion exchange water softener

Cause 8: Dying Your Hair Too Frequently

Getting your hair dyed too often is another cause of hair with a straw-like texture.

The ingredients in hair dye are damaging, especially if they’re applied to your hair frequently, and could lead to brittle strands that are more likely to break at the ends.

βœ… How To Resolve

Try to avoid dying your hair too often. Only use hair dye once every 4-6 weeks, and even then, try not to dye your whole head of hair – just do a root touch-up if you need it.

If you do dye your hair fairly frequently because you love to switch up your look, make sure to give your hair some extra special treatment from time to time.

Use a leave-in conditioner or a hair mask every 1-2 weeks to nourish and moisturize your hair.

Cause 9: Exposure To Certain Climates

Certain climates, such as hot, dry climates and freezing temperatures, can make your hair dry by drawing out the moisture – regardless of your hair care routine.

The sun’s UV rays also cause dry and brittle hair by breaking down the hair’s outer layer of lipids, preventing hair from being able to retain moisture.

βœ… How To Resolve

There’s not a lot that you can do about living in an area with a climate that causes dry, straw hair issues, but you can at least use hair care products that protect your hair from damage.

If your hair is exposed to a dry climate, use a nourishing balm or hair care oil, like jojoba oil or castor oil, to lock in moisture and restore your hair’s strength.

You can also buy UV protectant spray to reduce UV damage to your hair, wear a head covering, adjust your schedule to avoid going outdoors in the middle of the day, and stick to the shade when you can.

Applying hair care oil on hair

Cause 10: Eating An Unhealthy Diet

Finally, eating unhealthy foods or not focusing on the right foods for hair health may also contribute to hair that feels like straw.

Your body needs plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, and trace minerals like iron and magnesium, to sustain healthy hair.

βœ… How To Resolve

You don’t have to massively switch up your diet to improve your hair quality. Just focus on adding a few foods to your diet that are thought to be particularly beneficial for hair smoothness and moisture retention.

Some of the foods that are recommended in a healthy hair diet are:

  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna
  • Chia seeds, flaxseeds, and canola oil
  • Tofu and soybeans
  • Brussels sprouts, potatoes, broccoli, and other vegetables
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits
  • Beans and lentils

If you can’t get enough vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, consider taking a daily multivitamin.

Reduce your intake of foods that may lead to damaged hair, including sugar, refined carbs, dairy, ready food, and alcohol.

πŸ“– How To Maintain Healthy Hair

The best way to maintain healthy hair is to do what you can to retain moisture.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive products if you don’t want to. A lot of these miracle products don’t work, anyway – especially if you’re not taking steps to protect your hair in day-to-day life.

We recommend starting simple by making sure to wash in clean water that’s ideally soft and chemical-free, using the right type of conditioner for your hair type, and cutting back on your use of styling tools that use heat.

The majority of healthy hair maintenance involves not doing things, which is often easier than having to implement new steps and processes into your lifestyle. However, there is one thing that we recommend being proactive about, and that’s eating a healthy diet full of nutrients and vitamins that are good for your hair – and your whole body, too.

Related Content: Revealing the Truth: Surprising Showering Habits of the Modern American

πŸ“‘ Final Word

Following the tips in this guide should help you to avoid hair dryness and retain your hair’s natural oils.

If you’re really struggling to maintain healthy hair growth, pay a visit to your local hair salon and ask for a hairdresser to examine your hair quality while they give it a cut and blow dry.

An expert in the industry should be able to offer more tailored advice and recommendations based on the look and feel of your hair, and what they know about your hair type and the local climate.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

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