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What Causes Men to Have Dry, Brittle Hair and How to Handle It

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

What Causes Men to Have Dry, Brittle Hair and How to Handle It

Dry and brittle hair is common in men and women of all ages. In fact, dry hair doesn’t differ between men and women. Although dry hair may be annoying, it’s usually not a sign of a serious health condition. A few simple changes to your hair care routine should reduce dryness.

Sebaceous glands in your hair follicles produce a natural oil called sebum that moisturizes and protects your hair. As you age, your body produces less sebum, and your hair becomes more prone to dryness.

Men with curly or coily hair are especially prone to dry hair. This is because the sebum isn’t able to reach the ends of the hair as easily as it can in straight or wavy hair.

Keep reading to find out what might be causing your dry hair. We’ll also cover how you can treat dry and brittle hair and keep it from coming back.

What causes dry hair and dry scalp in men

Environmental factors, your hair care routine, and your hormonal health can all play a role in keeping your hair moist and healthy.

Here are some reasons your hair might be dry:

Excessive shampooing

Frequent shampooing can strip your hair of its protective oils and lead to dryness. People with curly and coily hair are especially prone to dryness.

How often you need to use shampoo depends on your hair. If your hair tends to be dry, you may want to try shampooing it every third day.

Sun exposure

Exposure to UV light from sunlight or indoor tanning can damage your skin. However, prolonged exposure to UV light can also damage the outer layer of your hair, called the cuticle.

The cuticle protects the inner layers of your hair and helps lock in moisture. When the cuticle is damaged, your hair can become dry or brittle.

Blow-drying and using hot water

Exposing your hair to heat when blow-drying or showering can dry out your hair.

A 2011 study found that the amount of hair damage when blow-drying your hair increases as the temperature increases.

Thyroid dysfunction

Your thyroid gland is located on the front of your neck and produces hormones that control your metabolism.

Research has found that thyroid hormones stimulate hair growth by acting on stem cells in your hair follicles.

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can negatively affect your hair growth and lead to dry and brittle hair.

Chlorinated water

Repeated exposure to chlorinated water can decrease the amount of natural oil in your hair.

Hair products

Certain hair products that contain harsh ingredients can dry out your hair.

You may want to avoid products that contain short-chain alcohols like:

  • isopropyl alcohol

  • propanol

  • propyl alcohol

How to treat men’s dry, brittle hair at home

Here are some ways you can easily keep your hair hydrated at home:

  • Shampoo less. If your hair tends to be dry, you can try reducing your shampooing frequency to two or three times per week.

  • Use cooler water. Using cool water when you’re washing your hair may help your hair retain moisture.

  • Change your shampoo or conditioner. Switching to a shampoo designed specifically for dry hair may help keep your hair moist.

  • Try leave-in conditioners. Leave-in conditioners are left in your hair for 20 to 30 minutes and help moisturize extremely dry hair.

  • Change your brush. Boar bristle brushes and nylon brushes have bristles that are close together. These bristles can help stimulate your scalp and distribute oil throughout your hair.

  • Air dry. Letting your hair air dry can help you avoid potentially damaging heat that dries out your hair. If you do blow-dry your hair, try sticking to the lowest temperature setting.

How to care for specific hair types

Hair types are generally classified into four types: straight, wavy, curly, and coily.

Straight hair

Straight hair tends to get greasier than other hair types. Oils can easily travel from your scalp to the end of your hair since there aren’t any curls to slow it down.

If you have straight hair, you may have to shampoo more often than people with other hair types. You may also want to try using a dry shampoo between washes.

Wavy hair

Wavy hair is more likely to become frizzy than straight hair, but it doesn’t tend to get as dry as curly or coily hair.

You can calm frizz by applying a small amount of a dry oil such as avocado oil or grapeseed oil to your hair.

Curly hair

Curly hair tends to become dry since the curls make it harder for your natural oils to reach the ends of your hair.

You can help keep it moisturized by avoiding hot water and blow-drying when possible.

You can also apply a conditioner designed for curly hair to keep it moisturized. If you’re prone to frizz, you can also try adding dry oil.

You might also want to minimize or avoid brushing your hair since the brush can get stuck in the curls and damage your hair.

Coily hair

Sometimes called “kinky” hair, coily hair tends to be dry and brittle since the natural oils of your scalp take longer to circulate around your hair.

If you have coily hair, it’s a good idea to minimize how often you shampoo and blow-dry your hair.

Applying shea butter to your hair may also help keep it moist and soft.

Lifestyle changes for healthier hair

Even though genetics play a large role in determining your hair health, good lifestyle habits can also be beneficial.

Some changes you can make to maximize your hair health include:

  • Eat protein. Your hair is primarily made from a tough protein called keratin. Not getting adequate protein can lead to weak and brittle hair.

  • Get all your micronutrients. Eating a balanced diet can help you prevent micronutrient deficiencies that may negatively impact your hair health. Zinc and biotin deficiencies are both thought to hinder hair growth.

  • Avoid smoking. Smoking can negatively affect many aspects of your health. ResearchTrusted Source suggests that there’s a link between smoking and hair loss. Quitting can be difficult, but a doctor can help create a plan that works for you.

  • Minimize sun exposure. Prolonged exposure to UV light can damage your hair. Wearing a hat when in the sun can help protect your hair.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can improve blood flow to your scalp and may help improve hair health.


Dry hair is a common problem among men. If your hair tends to be dry, you may want to try changing your hair care routine.

Shampooing your hair less, using cool water in the shower, and avoiding blow-drying can all help reduce dryness.

Adopting good lifestyle habits such as eating a balanced diet and exercising can also improve your overall hair health.

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