Skip to main content

8 Ways to Combat Dry Ends

• Feb 4, 2013


By Chinwe of Hair and Health

What causes dry ends?
Sebum is the hair and scalp’s natural conditioner. In straight hair, this oily substance can generally move down the shaft to the ends fairly easily because of the direct path. The hair’s close proximity to the scalp as well as continual brushing and combing also aid in the transport process. As for textured hair? That is another story.

The coilier your hair, the harder it is for sebum to travel down to the ends. Here’s my analogy: Imagine oil running along a straight road versus a path full of turns and twists. In the latter case, the oil may slow down or even get caught at each curve. By the time it reaches its destination, only a fraction of the oil will remain. There is also the possibility that it may never reach its destination. This process is basically what curly, coily, and kinky hairs experience. Additionally, factor in a minimal brushing/combing routine and the reality that some natural hair works against gravity (i.e., stands up and out away from the scalp). We ultimately have a case in which sebum just barely reaches the ends of our hair, if at all.

Now the explanation above is just one of many causes of dry ends. Other reasons are listed in this post on moisture and length retention.

How do you stop dry ends (due to inadequate sebum)?
Since sebum may barely, if at all, reach the ends of textured hair, it is necessary to quench and condition those ends. Here are some methods that work for me and may hopefully work for others:

1. Discard harsh regular shampoos
Shampoos with SLS and other strong ingredients strip my hair (including my ends) of their natural oils. The shampoo I use on a regular basis contains more gentle substances. Other options to explore are conditioner washing or using homemade natural cleansers instead of a shampoo. Some people also do a treatment with oil at a warm or room temperature prior to washing to minimize sebum loss from their strands. (Click here for hot oil treatments.)

2. Lather once when you shampoo
Minimal lathering equals minimal loss of whatever sebum is on my ends.

3. No direct shampoo on the ends
I rarely expose my ends to direct shampoo. I just focus on the scalp and let the water and lather run down the rest of my hair.

4. Saturate the ends with moisture and conditioner
Pay the most attention to your ends while conditioning and moisturizing.

5. Invest in good products
Each individual head of hair is different, but this post may be a place to start in terms of what sealants, moisturizers, and conditioners to try.

6. Eat foods containing omega-3 and vitamin A
Few people realize that foods, such as salmon, cantaloupe, and flaxseeds contribute to sebum production. For the omega-3 post, click here. For the vitamin A post, click here.

7. Air dry the hair in a protective style
Protective styling isn’t reserved for the protection of the ends. It has the added benefit, in my case, of helping my ends absorb and retain moisture post a washing session.

8. Sleep with a silk scarf/pillowcase
The same added benefit applies here too.

How do you stop dry ends (due to porosity)?

I believe that another major contributor to dry ends in black hair is high porosity. What causes high porosity? Well, a number of things including gradual wear and tear of the hair. I really encourage anyone who believes they might have this issue to read this extremely informative article: Part 1 . For solutions to the porosity issues, do check out Part 2 as well: Part 2 .

Ladies, how do you deal with dry ends?

About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more!

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
Actually ladies keeping your hair clarified is a good way to maintain dry ends. You want them really clean so that your conditioners and oils can fully bind to the hair.That means you may want to take that shampoo all the way to the tips. You may not need a harsh sulfate shampoo to accomplish this but keep them clean and dare I say stripped of dirt and excess pollutants from the enviornment. In the winter keep your ends tucked most of the time. You don’t gotta be fanatical but try to tuck most of the week. And the most… Read more »

Thank all you ladies…the advice was so so helpful for me and my Lil girls..I’m new to this cuz my mom always did my hair n now I have 2 girls so I have to step my game up!

Ugonna Wosu

did you say ” a good way to maintain dry ends”? Why would we want to do that? Anyway, you don’t need to shampoo your ends, I’ve seen enough books for all races that have said this. They need constant moisture, it doesn’t need the help of sulfates to make the conditioner stick cause its already constantly thirsty, lol. Your scalp needs cleaning, so you focus there.


Lol excuse the typeo. It should say maintain healthy and moisturized ends. Like someone mentioned above the greases, butters and heavy oils that we use make it hard for just shampoo run off from the scalp to clean well. Especually sice most of us seal our ends pretty frequently. With all do respect all races don’t use the heavy types of products that we use on our hair.

I second that! I’m always a bit puzzled because there is a lot of conflicting advice on the interwebs about natural hair. Yes, everyone’s hair is their own, but hair is hair and still adheres to some universal truths. I have found that only using a cleanser on my scalp and letting the cleanser merely go down as I rinse isn’t enough to adequately cleanse my ends and I end up having to use a Denman brush to fully remove the lint, etc. that has collected on the ends. Plus, using heavy oils on my ends (which I personally need)… Read more »

My hair is waistlength and I used to get dry ends, but I started massaging my scalp with my fingers and then I would touch/rake the ends of my hair bringing the sebum straight to my ends.

Sealing is also another method where you specifically moisturize your ends. Take water and whatever product you like most. For me, I like some kind of leave in conditioner and shea butter ( I always have grease if shea butter isn’t available. ) Then I just moisturize to the desired texture and feel. I do this once in between washes to keep my ends moisturized and combat against some frizz ( you’ll always have frizz ). I am a fan of pineappling during sleep ( putting all the hair toward the front of the head to protect the ends from… Read more »

my hair is not porous and craves for moisture.
did the water test and it takes 15 minutes for it to sink. So i moisture 2x a day and at night put a satin scarf on my damp har.
Noticed that Giovanni direct leave in penetrates the hair better and easyer. And i def need to wash with a s-free shampoo once a month.


What about the thought that ends seem most mousturized when hair is more detangled and not matted. Has anyone found that ends stay moisturized when hair stays detangled?

Ugonna Wosu

its more the other way around, your hair stays detangled easier when its properly moisturized. Often part of the reason you get tangles is because of dryness.

Grey Poupon

Glad you touched on foods. Eating right does wonders for the hair and skin and your overall health.

I combat dry ends by spitzing with h20, sealing with castor oil and tucking into a bun.


I started going to a trichologist after reading a book called “7 Myths about black hair.” She told me to start using shea butter as my grease (or coconut oil) and soft n free (a water based moisturizer). I but one or the other on my ends every night and that has helped a lot.

She also told me my scalp doesn’t need to be greased. Has anyone heard of that?

Yes, our scalp does not need to be greased. It actually could cause more problems as it blocks your natural sebum. Applying grease to your scalp could also cause an inbalance on your scalp which can lead to irritation and dandruff. I remember reading that in The Science of Black Hair. I often use tea tree essential oil on my scalp if I have to use anything to combat any irritation. Or I just use it because I like the refreshing feeling of tea tree on my scalp. As far as washing, I do more co-washing than shampooing. I may… Read more »
Great comment mlank64, but I wonder sometimes if I need to oil my scalp because if I go a few days and don’t my scalp tends to get really dry and flaky. I have 4a/4b hair and have had sebhorric dermatitis (sp.?) for a long a time and have just been getting over it recently through using a medicated steroid oil that I got from my dermatologist. I have really bad split ends and was dealing with a lot of dryness a few months back, but realized it was because my stylist had given me heat damage. I have been… Read more »
There is tea tree oil which is very soothing on the scalp. Perhaps you can mix it with a carrier oil like jojoba, which is close in content to the natural sebum on our scalps. But, honestly, I’m no expert and I would continue to seek out professional advice on this issue. Moisture for me has been elusive until recently. My husband jokes that I use “gheri curl activator” on my hair. I’m almost embarrased to reveal it, however, I find it has helped in my moisture level so much. I was someone that had to moisturize my hair 2x… Read more »

A moisture mix of water, aloe vera juice, and EVOO sealed with grapeseed oil keeps my hair (ends included) moisturized for DAYS. I spray and seal usually every other night. I think finding what oils and products work for YOUR hair is key.


Just out of the shower and after detangling, I usually use Shea Moisture’s deep treatment or the curling soufle, and recently I’ve been sealing with either aloe vera gel or a mix of sweet almond and coconut oil (all pure). My twists last for a good week and the ends never frizz or lack moisture until I take them out. By then I’m tired of the style and wear it out for a day or two, and then I wash again.


I completely removed shampoo from my hair regime. I use a mud wash to cleanse and apple cider vinegar to clarify. I also spritz my hair with water and seal with jojoba/castor/argan oil mix daily. My ends are much happier now.


Mud washes are wonderful. I use it 1 a month to give my hair a treat. Terresentials was the but I refuse to buy anymore because of that dang shipping. So, I learned to make a homemade mud wash with bentonite clay, raw acv, a little avj, some essential oils and baby it is on..:)

looking at your regimen you must have some gorgeous locks. Sounds healthy an all so natural.


To keep the ends of my kinky coily, Afro-textured hair moisturized I…
-apply extra deep conditioner to my ends ends*
-focus shampoo on my scalp/roots (via a color applicator bottle)
-add extra moisturizer to my ends before braiding/twisting/etc.
-seal my ends with castor oil after moisturizing
-air-dry my hair in braids/twists/etc.
-sleep with a satin scarf and/or bonnet
-seal my ends with castor oil when styling my hair into a bun or updo
-trim ends (cut 1/4–1/2 inch) every 3–4 months

I deep condition on dry hair before shampooing.


Another thing I’ve noticed is that finding out one’s hair porosity might be the key to solving one’s hair issues. I think it’s a better gauge than hair typing. Once I discovered I have low-porosity hair, I switched up my regimen and realized I didn’t need to close my cuticles with cool water after conditioning (which is normally recommended). Now I use a warm water rinse to open my cuticles so that my leave-in can better penetrate my strands and that has been a miracle for me. Also, the Cherry Lola Treatment has been great for my hair…

I have low porosity hair and I’ve tried a modified “cherry lola’ treatment. I just added baking soda to my conditioner and co-washed. I liked the results. I stopped doing cold water rinses as well. It left my hair a bit hard and rough as if I didn’t put any conditioner on it. It also made it hard for products to absorb. I agree, porosity and hair density have been much more useful in terms of what products to use on my hair. Hair typing for most is a great place to start, but, my means the only factor.

It’s hard to work out if I’m low or high porosity even after reading that article some time ago. My hair is 4c, fine and dense. When washed it takes about 5 mins to get wet fully. It dries within about an hour after being wet. When air dried, it dries rough and extremely dry. I have never tried lightly blow drying. I find that if I oil rinse, my hair often dries softer than if I just use deep cons. Deep cons do not easily penetrate my hair. Mostly, they have no effect on my hair whatsoever.


Jenny, have you considered a steamer? It can help open the cuticles so the conditioner can get into the hair. Also, a prepoo with oil like coconut oil before you wash your hair may help as well. I know low-porosity can be frustrating like high porosity imho.

news article

An interesting discussion is worth comment. I believe that you must write extra on this topic, it won’t be a taboo topic however typically individuals are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers


Keeping hair moisturized is much easier when you have all the information. Many people don’t know that sulfates dry out their hair and cause damage. Warm oil massages are what I do when my hair needs a little TLC. It feels great and keeps hair beautiful and strong.


My hair is relaxed every 6–8 weeks and I wash every weekend in between to fight dandruff. My hair sheds alot and is dry and lifeless looking and will not grow. I deal with alot of breakage and dry ends. My hair use to be long and full and pretty but with new baby and hormonal issues thats not the case anymore. Please help…I miss my hair!!


My friends from Ghana is going natural and she tells me she always uses argan oil on her ends. She hasn’t had dry ends in aaaaaaages. The brand she got is called Pro naturals and it’s a leave in for after a shower. So just in case any of you natural girls wanna get it on it.


I always make sure I use conditioner, leave in conditioner and deep conditioner on my ends especially, seal them with oil and let them air dry. I also dont let them touch stuff like clothes much.

In 4 days, I will be natural for 1 year after a big big chop. It has been a journey but I finally found what my hair likes and I have 6″ of growth. I love my twist out and my ends now get so much love that I think the rest of my hair gets jealous :-). I found out that heavy hair grease such as Ms. Akbari Oil Sheen in a jar works great for my hair and especially my ends for sealing in moisture. I then use TGIN twisting butter on top. With this regimen my hair… Read more »

Shopping Cart