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Soft, luminous hair is a common goal. However, life can get the best of your hair — whether due to aging, lifestyle habits, or poor hair care techniques — many things can damage your already delicate hair cuticles.

Over time, natural oils may be stripped from your hair, which can lead to dryness.

Still, this doesn’t mean you have to settle for dry, brittle hair.

Softening otherwise dry and coarse hair can be treated with home remedies. All you’ll need is a combination of moisturizing ingredients and healthy hair care habits. Consider the following remedies and steps you can easily add to your own routine.

1. Know your hair type

Understanding your hair type is important before trying any home remedies. Dry, coarse hair can certainly use some extra TLC, but straight hair may not need as much oil compared with curly hair. This is because natural oils from the scalp move easier through the cuticle the straighter your hair is.

Although you may know your hair type now, it can change as you get older because of a decrease in natural oil production. Your hair might also be different based on the climate you live in and what season it is.

2. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is becoming increasingly prevalent in beauty products. Although research has shown that coconut oil can benefit dry skin, there may also be some potential softening benefits for your hair, too.

Coconut oil itself can penetrate deep into the skin — some of these same effects may be seen in the hair shaft.

You can look for products already infused with coconut oil, or you can apply pure oil to your hair after you shampoo. If the result is too oily, try concentrating on the ends of your hair only and using the oil every other day.

Buy a product with coconut oil now.

3. Olive oil

Olive oil is well-studied for its effects on internal health, but research is also emerging about its role in hair care. It’s thought that olive oil can act as a barrier against water, which can help prevent water molecules from stretching and damaging the cuticle.

The downside is that this sort of barrier can also make your hair oily. For best results, apply a small amount of olive oil in a thin, even layer throughout the ends of your hair once a week.

4. Argan oil

Derived from Moroccan argan fruit extracts, this oil is known for its moisturizing properties. While research involving argan oil and hair care is lacking, this remedy shows a lot of promise.

Cosmetic manufacturers have added the oil to numerous shampoos, conditioners, and treatments, but extremely dry hair may benefit more from pure argan oil. (Get some here.) Plus, you won’t have to deal with any chemicals or other unwanted additives.

Apply as you would olive oil — in a single, even layer.

5. Use a weekly hair mask

Plant oils can be an effective way to add much-needed moisture to dry hair. But if you’d rather not mess with pure oils, you can look for a ready-to-use hair mask instead.

Used on a weekly basis, a hair mask can help your hair draw in moisture more effectively for softer hair over time. Apply on damp (not wet) hair after shampooing, then rinse out after five minutes.

Consider trying Redken’s All Soft Mega Mask.

6. Bentonite clay

Bentonite clay is a volcanically-derived substance that’s traditionally used for digestive ailments. It’s also sometimes used for skin issues, like dryness, eczema, and bug bites.

Research is ongoing about the possible effects of bentonite clay for your hair, though most related studies have focused on animals. Proponents believe that the clay can help clean your hair while also balancing out moisture levels. It may even help with dandruff.

To use bentonite clay for your hair:

  1. Get some bentonite clay.
  2. Combine equal parts clay with water or vinegar, to form a thick paste.
  3. Apply in the shower as you would a store-bought hair mask.

7. Don’t wash with hot water

Hot water can cause damage to dull, dry hair. Opt for lukewarm water instead.

You can also make your hair softer and shinier by rinsing your hair with cool water when you’re done conditioning. This will help rinse out any excess product without stripping out moisture.

8. Wash strategically

If you have dry ends and an oily scalp, you’ll still need to wash your hair regularly. To treat both dryness and oiliness though, you might need to apply a different strategy.

Try shampooing your scalp and then conditioning your ends only. This can help alleviate both excess oil at the top of your hair while softening out the rest of your strands.

9. Wash only as often as needed

At a young age, we’re taught to shampoo our hair every single day. But as you get older, your hair can change, and you may not need daily shampoos after all. In fact, people with extremely dry hair may only require weekly shampoos at best. On the other hand, if you have an oilier scalp compared to your ends, you may need to wash your hair every other day.

You can also touch up with dry shampoo as needed — this will help remove oil and dirt without stripping away moisture.

10. Go easy with heated tools

Blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons are staples for many hairstyles. However, prolonged, high heat can create bubbles in your hair cuticle leading to damaged hair that can then break off. If you must use heated tools, consider the following tips:

  • apply a heat protectant prior to each use
  • use the lowest heat setting possible
  • never use on extremely wethair — let your hair air dry for a little bit first
  • take weekly breaks to help your hair recover

11. Avoid certain hairstyles

Hair accessories can be a fun and easy way to change up your look. Some accessories, such as elastic bands, are even essential when you’re working out or playing sports. But over time, the pulling and tightening action from these hairstyles can damage the hair cuticle. This can lead to dryness, and even patchy hair loss.

12. Go easy on frequent treatments

When you get a quality hair treatment, whether it’s a color job, perm, or straightening/relaxer treatment, the results can be addictive. You may even be tempted to get another treatment after a few weeks.

Professional hair treatments can even make your hair soft and shiny, but many of the effects are temporary. At the core of each treatment are chemicals, which can dry out and damage your hair after a while.

Your best bet is to go easy on the treatments with a minimum of six weeks in between each session.

It can take time and experimentation to find products that give you the soft hair you’re looking for. The above remedies can help soften your hair over time. While a hair mask or a plant oil can provide immediate softness, the effects will wear off after a few days until you reapply again.

Other changes to your routine will take longer to impact your hair — this can take several weeks depending on the extent of dryness or damage.

If your hair continues to be excessively dry despite the above remedies, see your doctor. Extensive dryness that won’t self-correct with healthy lifestyle habits could indicate an underlying medical condition, such as nutritional deficiencies.