Common Dull Hair Causes and 5 Ways to Fix It

Posted by Effective Spend on

Waking up to find your hair looking dull and lifeless can be a rough start to your day, as even a great hairstyle won’t look great with strands that appear flat and dry.


Luckily, dull hair is one of the easiest conditions to treat. A few minor changes to your routine coupled with the right product or two can transform lifeless strands into shiny, bouncy locks. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dull hair to help you understand the issue and treat it. 

What is dull hair?

Dull hair is characterized by a matte appearance that lacks shine or reflection. Strands will feel dry, coarse, and flat with frizzy flyaways a common occurrence. It’s often said to look lifeless because it lacks moisture and luster that should occur within healthy hair.


What causes dull hair?

Dull hair can happen for a variety of reasons including:

  • Excessive heat styling: Hot tools like curling irons, straighteners, and blow dryers are great for shaping your hair into the perfect style, but frequent use of them can damage the cuticle and reduce your hair’s natural shimmer.
  • Weather conditions: Certain weather conditions like dry or cold air can contribute to dull strands by sucking the moisture from your strands. Additionally, prolonged sun exposure can cause the moisture in your hair to evaporate which dries it out leading to dullness.
  • Overwashing: Your scalp naturally produces oil to keep your hair hydrated and healthy, but washing too often or too harshly can strip away these oils before they have time to nourish strands.
  • Using the wrong hair products: Different hair types require different products. If you’ve got fine hair and are using something formulated to help coarse hair, you may find the products are harsher than what’s ideal for your hair which can damage strands and contribute to dullness. 
  • Product build-up: Frequent use of styling products leads to the accumulation of residue which can clog the hair shaft and prevent oils from flowing to strands.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Healthy hair requires nutrients, so a lack of them in your diet can prevent your hair from being healthy. This also includes drinking plenty of water to keep strands hydrated.
  • Infrequent brushing: Brushing your hair spreads out natural oils which is especially beneficial for people with longer hair. Going too long without brushing can also lead to the cuticle becoming raised and rough.
  • Pregnancy or hormonal changes: Hormones can lead to lots of body changes, and your hair is no exception. Sometimes these changes (including during pregnancy) can lead to dull and brittle strands. 

Treatments to fix dull hair

Whether you’re currently dealing with dull, lifeless strands or want to take precautions to keep your hair shiny and glossy — check out these tips and treatments.

1. Use hair products formulated to add gloss and shine

There are lots of hair products to choose from, but if treating dullness is your goal then our Glossy collection is the solution. This collection is formulated specifically to add glass-like shine and is great if you have hair that’s dull or even if you want to add luster to hair that’s currently healthy. Start with Glossy Shampoo to gently cleanse strands, follow up with Glossy Conditioner to add moisture, and seal and protect using our Glossy Shine Spray With Heat Protection. Used as a routine, these products address dull hair by replenishing moisture and adding shine.

2. Exfoliate your scalp on a regular basis

We love styling products, but using a lot of them can result in build-up that combines with dead skin and dirt to clog hair follicles. When this occurs, natural oils from your scalp aren’t able to easily pass through to your strands which can lead to strands that appear dull. Prevent product build-up from contributing to dull hair by exfoliating your scalp regularly. If you’re not sure how, check out our guide on scalp exfoliation or take a look at our Ghost Exfoliating Scalp Nectar™ to get started!

3. Use a humidifier

If you live in an area with harsh weather including air that’s cold dry or want extra protection during the winter, try using a humidifier while indoors. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which will help prevent leaching from your strands that’s associated with dryness and dull hair. Although this won’t help much once you’re outside, consider a humidifier for places you spend a lot of time at like your home or office if you have a private space.

4. Stay away from hot water and hot tools

By now, we know that heat can dry out strands and contribute to dull hair so we should try to avoid it. In some cases heat’s hard to avoid, but there are two common sources of exposure that you can minimize with minor hair routine changes. When showering, try to use lukewarm or cold water instead of hot water. Cold water is best because it helps seal the hair’s cuticle to lock in moisture, but we understand that some people may be hesitant about this approach so you can take baby steps by simply turning down the heat a little at a time until you find a temperature that you’re comfortable with. 


Another source of heat is hot tools, so if possible, try to limit their use to special occasions to prevent frying your strands. If you rely heavily on hot tools to achieve your daily style, see if you can get the same result using styling products instead.

5. Try plopping

After your shower or bath, consider “plopping” as an alternative to blow or towel drying. Plopping is the process of wrapping your hair in a shirt and letting it slowly dry for 10-20 minutes, which allows your hair to retain moisture as it dries. We know, it sounds weird, but it’s a great way to fight frizz and help strands maintain the moisture they need to avoid becoming dull. If you’re skeptical about it, try plopping for yourself and see if your hair feels different.

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