How can I get coarse hair

Dry and damaged hair

If the sebum glands on the head produce too little fat, the scalp and hair become dry and brittle. The main cause of this phenomenon are environmental influences, predisposition also plays a major role.

The hair does not shine, looks dull and brittle like straw - these are the "symptoms" of dry hair. The reason for the drought on the scalp is simple: the corresponding sebum glands produce too little oil to keep the hair moist. The triggers are mostly environmental influences - for example, heat, dry air at the workplace and solar radiation.

+++ More about hair: Hair loss - when the thicket is thinning +++

One reason could be excessive hair care (with the wrong shampoos or soaps) or too frequent use of blow dryers and straighteners. A disease - such as hypothyroidism or anorexia nervosa - or malnutrition are rarely the cause.

Damaged hair

Dry hair cannot be compared to damaged hair. With the former, the layers of the hair remain intact. Neither the cuticle, the outermost covering, nor the cortex (middle layer) or the core (medulla) show any changes in people with dry curls. In contrast, damaged hair is functionally impaired, for example through frequent dyeing, bleaching and perming. The chemical structure is changed down to the middle layer of the hair, the cortex is porous and not very resistant.

Split ends

Split ends are the fraying and splitting of the ends of the hair. Split ends occur mainly with long hair, when the hair is slapped on the shoulders. One of the reasons for the breakup is environmental influences such as strong sunlight, to which the hair has been exposed for a period of several years. Split ends are also favored by frequent coloring of the hair.

During the treatment, the hair is shortened, and hair treatments with a high lipid content are also advisable. Panthenol can fix slight hair breakage and split ends up to about a third.

Flaky scalp

Dandruff isn't a hair problem, it's a skin problem. There are generally two types of dandruff: dry and greasy dandruff. We speak of dry dandruff when the dandruff is fine and not greasy. They "trickle down" and can be clearly seen on dark clothing and bed linen.

+++ More about hair: dry, flaky scalp +++

What to do about dry hair

But back to the topic: In order to tackle the problem at the root, above all a sensitive use of shampoos and other care products is required.

  • Use moisturizing shampoos and moisturizers
  • Make regular hair treatments and conditioners. Protein hydrolyzates, lecithin, lanolin, collagen and keratin hydrolyzates can be beneficial. Get advice from pharmacy staff or beauticians.
  • Proper nutrition: The trace element zinc is generally good for skin, hair and nails. It is contained in whole grains, nuts, oysters and veal liver.

+++ More about hair: treating hair loss +++

Acid shampoos are suitable for treating damaged hair. In addition, we recommend regular hair conditioners and hair treatments, including with protein hydrolyzates, lipids, panthenol and conditioning agents.

If there is no improvement, consider cutting off or shortening the hair.


Fatty alcohols, fatty oils, silicones and paraffins fall under refatting. They make the hair smooth and easier to comb. Cosmetics containing silicone enclose the hair so well that permanent waves and coloring are often not possible after use.

In addition to moisturizers, there are also a number of protective agents and those that strengthen the hair structure. This includes:

  • D-panthenol - this active ingredient makes the hair resistant and helps against split ends
  • Vitamin E - the vitamin protects the hair from the effects of sun exposure
  • Keratin and protein hydrolysates - these substances can compensate for hair damage
  • Humectants

Hair treatment and home remedies

Various types of hair treatments are recommended for dry hair. Treatment with olive oil is one of the best-known examples. After washing, the hair is carefully dried with the towel (do not rub). Then comb, use the comb to part the hair into a middle part. Rub the oil gently from top to bottom, first on one side of the head, then on the other. Wrap the hair in a towel, wait three hours and then wash off the fat with a mild shampoo.

In addition to the Mediterranean product, wheat germ oil, beer, avocado, egg and honey are among the most popular home remedies that are used in the hair treatment.

When do I have to see a doctor?

You should consult a specialist if there is no improvement in spite of using the right care products or if hair loss in general is added to dry hair.

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Philip Pfleger
Editorial editing:
Dr. med. Stefanie Sperlich

Updated on:

Habif ™. Hair diseases. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009: chap 24.

Ellsässer S: dandruff; brittle, dry hair; damaged, colored, permed hair. From Ellsässer S (2008): Body care and cosmetics, 2nd edition, Springer Verlag, pages 245-246.

Elmadfa I: zinc; from: Nutrition, Verlag Eugen Ulmer, 2004; Pages 161-163

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