Dry, brittle hair can be very exhausting to deal with, even more so for people with natural hair. But the truth is; with the exception of some people with specific underlying medical conditions, dry hair is usually caused by lack of water or insufficient water, and can be easily remedied by drinking enough water and providing the hair with hydration from the inside.
Here is how wonderful drinking water really is
The human body is like a machine, and the water we drink is like the fuel that keeps that machine running effectively. Water aids body functioning first by feeding vital body parts such as the skin and organs. After the water has regulated the circulatory system, it then goes on to the hair follicles.
Science tells us that the hair follicles are the last part of the body that water gets to. This is why it is extremely important to drink enough water to first feed vital organs, and then have enough left over for the hair follicles. Imagine what happens when there is not enough water intake. The hair follicles don’t get any water in that case, and this is perhaps the leading cause of dry, brittle hair.
Benefits of drinking water
Growth: Our bodies need water to grow. We also know our bodies have high-water content, but did you know that our our hair shaft is also made up of at least 25 per cent water? Water also stimulates hair follicles by supporting mineral and vitamin absorption. On the other hand, inadequate water intake dries up the scalp, and also stops hair growth, making hair dry and straw-like.
A healthy head of hair: Everyone loves a healthy head of hair, and one of the ways to achieve this is to drink plenty of water. Adequate water intake ensures the hair is well hydrated, which in turn prevents itchiness, brittleness, hair loss, and hair fall. Dry hair also tends to develop split ends and breaks easily when being combed.
Gets rid of toxins: Water flushes toxins out of the body, helping the body to function optimally. This extends to our hair as well. Toxins can find their way to our hair strands and scalps, and the presence of toxins stop hair growth, while leading to a variety of other biological complications.
How much water is needed for hair growth
Our bodies constantly lose water from dehydration and perspiration, and this lost water needs to be replaced frequently.
How much water intake our body needs depends on weight, age and gender. An adult male body typically requires 3.7 litres of fluids per day, while a typical female body requires 2.7 litres of fluids per day.
Science also tells us that 20 per cent of the daily water intake should Ideally come from food, while the rest should come from actual water consumption.
It is also important to note that the intake of sweetened drinks and beverages do not actually count as water/liquid intake because they contain preservatives and sugars that lead to dehydration.
Also, your water consumption should be divided adequately over the entire course of the day, and you should never go for long periods without drinking some water.
Here is how to increase your water intake
Bundle it into an already established routine: Tie your water drinking to another one of your routines. You might want to drink a glass of water every time you eat a meal, use the bathroom, or brush your teeth. You choose.
Flavour your water: If you don’t like the plain taste of water, flavour it by adding fruits such as watermelons, strawberries, limes, oranges or limes to your water.
Eat a lot of fruits: One of the ways to increase your water intake is to eat fruits. Fruits have high water content and are a delicious way to increase your water intake.
Take water to go: Some of us remember to drink lots of water when indoors but don’t drink as much when out and about. Make sure you have a filled water bottle in hand when you are outdoors.
Alternate your drinks: If you drink a lot of juice or soda and don’t see yourself giving these habits up anytime soon, how about alternating juice or soda with water for starters? After a glass of juice, your next glass should be of water. And vice versa.
Track it: If you have the means, buy a high-tech bottle that connects to your smartphone/smart watch and records how much you drink. If you can’t afford such a bottle, set an alarm to remind you to drink water at intervals.
From the outside as well
When it come to our hair, it is not only the water that we take in that works wonders. Hair must also be hydrated from the outside in for hair growth to be maximised. This is where proper hydration comes in.
To hydrate hair means to provide enough water to the roots of the hair through the natural humidity in the air, proteins, and humectants. When our hair retains enough water content, it stops the hair from becoming frizzy, dry, and lifeless.
Whether the hair is rough or smooth, or fine or thick, it needs hydration.
The science behind hydration
Each hair strand has the medulla at the centre, and the middle layer, also known as the cortex, surrounds the medulla. For some people, the hair structure is such that the moisture in the strand evaporates too quickly, thereby leading to dry hair.
The cortex gives the hair its texture, shape, elasticity and curls, and a loosely-placed cuticle allows moisture to escape from the hair, in turn causing dry, weak hair that breaks easily.
The process of hydration is the process of adding water, humectants, amino acids, critical vitamins, and proteins that penetrate the hair fibre. We need different levels of water, depending on the hair type i.e. kinky or straight, to induce hydration into the hair. For example, kinky hair is usually naturally dry, and therefore needs more water to counter moisture loss.
Dos and don’ts of hair hydration
Dry your hair naturally: We encourage people to avoid using a blow dryer for their hair as much as is possible. While this will not always be doable, the best way to dry hair is to squeeze excess water out of the hair and then let it air dry.
Brush semi-wet hair: It is important to not brush hair when it is extremely wet or extremely dry. The best time is when it is semi-dry and leave in serum or conditioner has been applied. Also, the brushing should be done with a wide-toothed comb or a large brush first to remove the tangles and knots.
Avoid/Limit the use of heat styling: Blow dryers, heated rollers, curling irons and hair straighteners offer ease in hair styling, but they all cause dryness and hair dehydration because they work at high temperatures. Avoid these appliances if you can. If you can’t, limit their use.
Protect your hair if you must use heat styling: If you must use any heat styling tool, apply a protective product to the shaft of your hair to avoid drying it out.
Avoid overusing chemicals: Chemicals, whether hair colour or relaxers. are not too great for hair health. They have a way of making hair dry and dehydrated. If you must use chemicals, use ammonia-free colour or chemical-free products to straighten hair.
Now that we know just how beneficial water is to hair, will you do things differently going forward? If you have resolved to drink more/adequate water and hydrate from the inside out, congratulations! You are well on your way to better hair growth and lucious, healthy-looking hair.