Reader MyssKay actually took the words out of my mouth when she pointed out the difference between what I would call symptomatic dry hair and asymptomatic dry hair.
1. Symptomatic Dry Hair : Brittle, breaks easily under low force
2. Asymptomatic Dry Hair: Not brittle, feels dry but does not break unusually (i.e some breakage but not excessive and not with low force).
In the discussion below we are talking asymptomatic dry hair
Dry Hair or Texture?
The remedy for this is simple, keep your shed hair. Really yes keep your shed hair (and if you have a partner or kids, tell them about it so they don't think you are totally bonkers when they find your hair stash). Collect the hair and keep it dry for a month or so and then touch it and see if it is actually dry. Try running your hand over an individual strand, learn to distinguish dryness from random twists and kinks in hair.
Internal Water Content of Hair : natural=relaxed=bleached
moisture bumper issue.
What is even more interesting is that when hair is damaged chemically (relaxed or bleach), there is very little change to the internal water content of hair. In short natural hair, bleached hair and relaxed hair have the same fixed amount of water present internally in the hair (Thermochimica Acta 494 (2009) 136–140)
Yet we all know that relaxed and bleached hair tend to be dry, right? Well right! It is because the hair has a reduced capacity to trap water at or near the cuticle surface (reasons: cuticle damage, dissolving of cuticle oil, reduced outer oil(sebum)).
In short some of us may experience dry hair for the same reason. Perhaps by default our hair simply is not able to trap as much water, it does not mean that there is something wrong with the hair, just by default it does not trap much surface water.
What can you do about dry hair?
Scientifically there are two answers that I have discussed before (search button!)
1. Humectants such as glycerin which also strengthen natural hair.
2. Oil barriers
Is there such a thing as too much moisture?Actually yes there is. Moisture content to a certain extent helps to protect hair from premature breakage (J Soc Cosmet Chem, 36, 39-52, 1985). However, increasing the water content of hair actually also reduces its elasticity. In short the force required to break the hair is much less as you increase the water content. (J. Cosmet. Sci. 58,) 393–404,2007)
Are you still struggling with moisture? What is your method for keeping your external water? Any Jheri Curl Juice fans?