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Difference Between Dry Hair and Damaged Hair

Most of us have faced dry or damaged hair; the issue is – we don’t know whether our hair is dry or damaged! Knowing the differences between dry and damaged hair will help us identify and fix the root cause.


How to tell if your hair is dry or damaged?

Luckily for you, we’re about to lay down all the rules, tips, and tricks you need to know when diagnosing your hair problems and, more importantly, how to fix your hair once and for all.

Read on to learn the difference between dry hair and damaged hair.


How to Know If Your Hair Is Dry?

What is Dry Hair

Like any part of your body, your hair will dry out if you don’t take care of it properly with moisturizer and hydration. Hair needs a specific amount of moisture to give it that soft, shiny look we all know and love. When you dry it out with too much sun exposure, repeated chlorine interaction, and so forth, the outer layer breaks down, which dulls your down and gives it that sad, lifeless look.

Other factors that can dry out your include:

  • smoking
  • washing your hair too often
  • using cheap hair products
  • not drinking enough water
  • salt water (like repeatedly swimming in the ocean)

These factors play a significant role in drying out your hair faster. Age also plays a big part. Unsurprisingly, stress plays another prominent role in drying your hair (is there anything stress can’t do?).

It’s important to note that dry hair is a symptom of damaged hair, although just because your hair is dry does not necessarily mean it’s damaged.


How to Tell If Your Hair Is Damaged?

damaged hair

Damaged hair happens when your hair’s cuticle and shell break (AKA, the outer part of your hair). This damage can cause your hair to look dry, frizzy, tangled, and brittle; overall, it weakens the structure of your hair.

How does this happen? The most significant way is through the repeated use of harsh chemicals or treatments, like bleaching your hair, dying your hair, or repeatedly using curling irons or flat irons.

Another surprising culprit? Hair ties. Cheap ties will yank your hair and cuticle, ripping hair and damaging strands. Overwashing and repeated use of chlorine or salt water can also damage your hair significantly.

So, what is the difference between dry and damaged hair? And how can you tell them apart?


Difference Between Dry Hair and Damaged Hair

There are many differences between dry hair and damaged hair.

In short, dry hair is hair that lacks hydration. On the other hand, damaged hair has broken its outer shell, and its building blocks (AKA proteins) have been lost due to high heat or chemical hair treatments.

test for finding out dry or damaged hair

You can tell the differences between the two by doing two simple tests:

  • Strand Test
  • Feel Test

For the strand test, take a piece of hair and gently pull at both ends (make sure not to pull too hard as it will snap). If your hair is healthy, the strand will return to your original hair length. If your hair is dry, it will snap. If your hair is damaged, it will keep stretching.

The second test is the feel test. Take a strand of hair and feel it between your fingers. Is it soft or even a little mushy? If that’s the case, then your hair is damaged. Your hair is dry if you feel the strand is brittle or stiff.

Another big indicator is to think back on your recent activity. Have you been spending a lot of time jumping in the pool or hitting the ocean? Remember that if you expose your hair to chlorine or salt water and don’t properly hydrate your hair afterward with products, your hair will dry out. If you’ve been doing a lot more hairstyling with flat irons, curling irons, or so forth, then your hair is damaged.


What to Do If Your Hair Is Beyond Repair?

So, what do you do about this? If your hair is beyond repair, it might be time to get a haircut and start from scratch. However, if you don’t want to do something as drastic as chopping off all your hair, there are a few solutions.

How to Deal With Dry Hair

dry hair solution

The first step is avoiding products that further dry your hair. Avoid products with parabens, silicones, sulfates, and more. Check out the complete list here.

Instead, look for hydrating ingredients like honey, oil, and butter. You also might want to buy additional hydrating products on top of hydrating shampoo, like argan oil.

If you shower every day, now might be a good time to stop and only shower every other day. If you need to shower every day, you can; just make sure not to wash your hair every day.

Another great trick is adding more hydrating elements into your diets, like omega-3s and antioxidants.

Lastly, ensure you’re not using a blow dryer when you dry your hair. Instead, try wrapping it or letting it air dry to increase moisture and protect it from further damage.


How to Deal With Damaged Hair

eat protein to get rid of hair damage

Primarily, damaged hair has lost essential proteins. Adding more protein to your diet is a small secret to improving damaged hair. You can also look for products with protein (hint, look for words like protein, amino acid, and keratin).

But, the biggest thing you can do for your damaged hair is to stop hurting it with products, bleach, and styling tools. Unfortunately, some hair is so damaged beyond repair that you may just need to close your eyes and whip out those scissors.


If you notice your hair is starting to look a little less shiny, and overall looks sad and dull, chances are your hair is either dry or damaged. Figure out which one your hair is suffering from, and then take those easy steps to make your hair look as good as new.