Dry Hair VS Damaged Hair: How To Spot The Difference

If you’ve noticed that your hair is lacking its usual bounce and is more dull than usual, this may be a cause for concern. Your hair could either be dry or it could be damaged, neither one is great. Here’s how you can tell if your hair is dry or damaged.

If your hair looks dull and has static, it’s dry. If your hair looks dull but is also brittle, has split-ends, and feels stretchy and gummy when wet, it’s damaged. Damage to your hair is often concentrated in a specific area, whereas dryness is from the roots to the ends. Hence, dryness can be reversed, but damaged hair doesn’t have a quick fix.

Since we all have different hair types and our indicators of dry or damaged hair may not be the same for all of us, I have done a Q&A with women with different hair types to get their input.

If you’re interested in learning more about what they had to say, keep reading.

How To Test If Your Hair Is Dry Or Damaged

How to diagnose and treat your dry + damaged hair

A great at-home test that you can do to see if your hair is dry or damaged is the stretching test. This involves plucking a strand of wet hair from your head. Your hair will grow back, don’t worry.

Gently pluck a strand of wet hair from your head and tug the strand at each end. If the hair strand stretches (by ⅓) and reverts to its original length, your hair is healthy. If the hair strand stretches but doesn’t revert to its original length, your hair is dry. If the hair strand doesn’t stretch or stretches a bit, then breaks, your hair is damaged.

Keep reading to learn how to identify dry hair form damaged hair as well as how to take care of damaged hair!

Dry Hair:Damaged Hair:
Split EndsSplit Ends
Hair BreakageHair Shedding
Coarse and Rough TextureFaded/ Weathered Hair
No FlexibilityHair Thining
Early Greying
Hair Not Growing
Signs of Dry Hair Versus Signs Of Damaged Hair

5 Ways To Take Care of Damaged Hair

If your hair is extremely damaged there’s not much that can be done to repair it, though we can make it look better and try to strengthen it. Keep reading to find out exactly how to do so!

The best way to take care of damaged hair is to incorporate a hair conditioning step in your hair care routine as conditioners help restore the protective outer layer. You can use a rinse-off conditioner with plant oils after shampooing, a leave-in conditioner at least 3 times a week, and use a deep-conditioning hair mask every week.

I suggest that you go for deep conditioning as well as reconstructing hair treatments and be consistent with it. Though there are a few tips and tricks you can try at home:

1. Use Olive Oil

Olive oil helps to rehydrate and replenish hair with much-needed moisture. It also smooths your hair cuticles that have been damaged. You simply need to massage it into your hair. If you have hair that has been recently colored or highlighted, wait a few days before you use olive oil on your hair.

2. Use The Right Hair Products

Always use Keratin products on your hair. Our hair mainly comprises of Keratin so if you have damaged hair, a good way to rebuild your hair is to use Keratin!

If you have color-treated hair then make sure that you use shampoo and conditioners that are color-safe. These products are made with a pH that protects your hair shaft by preventing it from swelling which allows the dye to leak out. Your hair will look so much better!

3. Try A Rice Water Rinse

An ingredient found in rice water known as Inositol has properties that allow it to penetrate your damaged hair and actually repair it from the inside out.

I’ve been using rice water for years and this is how I prepare it:

  • Take a cup of rice and rinse it thoroughly with cool water.
  • Place your clean rice in a pot with 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil.
  • Whilst the rice is on the stove, put orange or lemon peels in the jar where you will be storing your rice water.
  • Once the water begins to boil, turn the stove off.
  • Let the rice water sit for roughly 5-8 minutes.
  • Drain the rice and collect the water. You can save the rice for a meal later.
  • Set the water aside to cool. When it is cool, decant it into the jar with the orange peels.
  • Wash and rinse your hair as usual, then rinse your hair with the rice water as though you are rinsing it with clean water.
  • Towel dry your hair, then let it air dry naturally.

4. Use Coconut Oil

The best thing about coconut oil is that its molecules are small enough to penetrate into your hair. One of the only oils that have this quality. Coconut oil penetrates the outer cuticle of your hair and hydrates your hair from the inside out. Coconut oil also helps replenish the natural oils in your hair that protect your hair from breakage caused by heat or sun damage. Apply warm, not hot, coconut oil at least once a week as a deep conditioning and hydrating hair mask.

5. Protein Packs

When you have damaged hair, the best thing to do is to use conditioning treatments and hair masks. Ones that have protein, to be specific. Protein packs are great hair masks as they have the nutrients that can rejuvenate your hair and prevent any further damage from occurring.

5 Ways To Repair Dry Hair

We all know that dry hair is a precursor to damaged hair. Your hair first becomes severely dry before it becomes damaged and breaks. So the logical thing to do would be to make sure we repair our dry hair so that the problem doesn’t escalate. I know just the thing to do!

The best way to fix dry hair is to wash your hair less often; shampoos are made to strip hair of oils and moisture; stick to washing your hair twice weekly and follow-up with a rinse-out conditioner to restore moisture to your hair. Also, apply warm olive oil or coconut oil to your hair’s ends and length 3 times a week to restore your hair’s moisture.

1. Heat Protectants

Heat protectants are to your hair what sunscreen is to your body. You wouldn’t go on a hike without putting on sunscreen, would you? So why do you blow-dry your hair without a heat protectant on it? Heat protectants act as a shield against the harmful heat from hair dryers, curling irons, and hair straighteners.

Heat strips your hair of its natural oils which is why you have dry hair. I’d say ditch the thermal hair appliances all together but I know that’s asking for too much. As long as you use your heat protectant and keep the appliances at a low temperature, your hair will be fine.

2. What’s In Your Shampoo?

When you buy products such as shampoo, conditioner, and hair moisturizer, its crucial that you read the labels to find out what is being put into these products. You should only be using products that are high in natural oils as well as being paraben-free and sulfate-free.

Products that have alcohol in them or chemicals should be avoided like the plague. They will strip your hair of its natural oils. We are trying to restore your natural oils so lookout for products that have either avocado oil, coconut oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, and other such oils.

3. Don’t Wash Your Hair Everyday

This shampoo is designed to get rid of a buildup of oils and products in your hair and scalp. It literally strips all the oils from your hair. This is why hair experts recommend that you only wash your hair 2 to 3 times a week. This is so that you don’t over-strip the moisture from your hair.

Also, use hair products that are specially formulated for dry hair as they are made to prevent too much moisture from being stripped away whilst adding some moisture back into your hair.

4. Hold Off On The Bleaches And Dyes

Give your hair a break, it’ll thank you later. Continuously coloring and bleaching your hair is one of the main contributors to dry and damaged hair. Those chemicals in the dyes and bleach put a lot of strain on your hair, to a point where your hair just gives up. This is why hairstylists recommend spacing out your appointments when you get your hair treated with these chemicals. 

If after reading this, you still insist on getting your hair bleached. Invest in a gentle shampoo and conditioner that are specially formulated for color-treated hair. They will help to restore some of the moisture back into your hair. A little moisture is better than no moisture.

5. Check The Weather Forecast

If you live somewhere with extreme weather conditions then you’ll probably be able to relate to this last item on the list.

Whether it’s winter or summer, both can contribute to your having dry hair. In winter, the temperature actually provides your hair with less moisture. So you will need to moisturize and condition your hair more than usual, especially if you have curly hair, to make sure your hair is getting the moisture it needs!

In the summertime, whilst there is enough moisture in the air, the heat and sun can actually be too harsh on your hair and dry it out. If you have very dry hair then I highly recommend you invest in a cute summer hat or a cap that you can wear if you plan on spending the day outside. 


Hey, I’m Jodie, the gal behind CraftyHairHacks. I have a deep passion for hair extensions, hairstyles, and almost anything that has to do with hair, which leads me to the writing and research I do for this website daily. Our site is still small, however, we’re pushing to get the best hair hacks out to as many as people as possible. ENJOY!

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