Do you blow dry your damp hair and tie it up every time you're late for work? This can cause irreversible damage to your hair over time.
When damp, hair tends to be vulnerable and prone to breakage. So, it is important to give it that extra care to prevent unwanted damage. Ayurvedic remedies can help.
Keep reading to find out what damp hair is and how you can take care of it.
What Is Damp Hair?
Your hair is in the damp state when it is neither dripping wet nor completely dry. Right after a shower, when you towel dry your hair, it is in the damp condition.
As per Ayurveda, an imbalance of your Tridoshas or life energies can disturb the normal functioning of your body systems. Damp conditions on your scalp can aggravate your Vata-Pitta Dosha  levels causing hair and scalp related problems. ‘Darunak’ or dandruff, ‘Khalitya’ or hair loss are some common issues that will soon begin to arise if your hair is kept damp for prolonged periods.
“Dampness disrupts the local physiological functions of the tridoshas. Body tries to compensate for the increased dampness by triggering more Vata, seeking its drying effect. Pitta is triggered to keep the region warm, as dampness can lower the local temperature. The rise of Vata and Pitta on the scalp weakens the hair roots,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
According to hair experts, your hair is most susceptible to damage when in this slightly wet or damp condition. Primarily, the below mentioned 4 changes occur when there is moisture in your hair, leaving it unguarded and more open to mechanical stress.
1. Increase In Elasticity
Dry hair can be stretched up to 30% without damaging it. If hair is stretched further, hair shafts may break. A stretch of 70 to 80% can be fatal to a hair shaft. When wet, hair becomes more elastic in nature and easily stretches with a little tug. Therefore, you should be extra careful not to tie damp hair into a tight bun or ponytail as it can weaken the outermost cuticle layer of your hair shaft.
2. Prone To Tangles
Damp hair can easily tangle if not moisturised or conditioned properly. Often the outermost layer of your hair, the cuticle, opens up when you shampoo. Which is why damp hair also becomes more elastic as mentioned above. When the cuticle is open or raised, hair shafts tangle easily. Make sure to brush damp hair with a wide toothed brush from the bottom right up to the top to avoid breaking at the ends.
3. More Susceptible To Thermal Damage
It’s a hair rule that you must never use heat on damp hair. Blow drying your damp hair at an extreme temperature may dry it faster, but it can major damage to the cuticle layer. The same rule applies to hair straighteners and curling irons. Use of heat on damp hair burns the cuticle layer and releases the moisture from within your hair shaft making hair look dull and frizzy.
4. Increase In Porosity
Damp hair is more porous compared to dry hair, which means it is the best time to apply your hair mask. Hair when damp, easily absorbs products applied to it. That’s why it is important to dampen your hair before applying a hair pack for better results.
What's The Difference Between Damp And Wet Hair?
Hair is considered wet when it is completely soaked in water. Damp hair, on the other hand, is the in-between state where your hair is neither too dry nor too wet.
Does Damp Hair Cause Dandruff?
No, damp hair does not directly cause dandruff. But if your hair is left damp for longer periods and is not allowed to dry, you will be facing scalp issues which may lead to dandruff. Tying damp hair does not allow the entire hair shaft to dry, leading to unwanted moisture and sebum build up on your scalp. Also the moisture from your hair and the warmth of your head will increase the growth of harmful bacteria on your scalp causing scalp infections. All such unwanted developments can make the skin on your scalp to flake, resulting in dandruff.
Vedix Tip: As per Ayurveda, ‘Darunak’ or dandruff  is a Tridosha disease caused by the imbalance of your Doshas. Ayurvedic hair packs and oils made from Neem, Citrus Lemon, Methi, Hibiscus (leaves and flowers) and Amla have been used to treat dandruff since ages.
Why Does Your Hair Smell Damp?
If you are wondering why your hair has a musty smell despite shampooing it frequently, it is probably because you’re not allowing it to dry completely. Tying up hair that is still damp causes bacterial and fungal growth, which lets out a foul smell.
Damp conditions on your scalp can lead to serious scalp infections such as Folliculitis, Ringworm and Trichomycosis . All of these infections are caused when bacteria or fungus enter your hair follicles leading to inflammations, itchiness, foul smell and hair loss.
Hence, remember to air dry your hair thoroughly following a hair wash. Clean your hair after a sweaty workout as excess sweat and sebum on your scalp is a perfect breeding ground for microorganisms.
There is also a chance that your shampoo is ineffective against the bacteria responsible for the foul smell. Most shampoos are only capable of removing dirt and sebum from your hair and fail to clean the scalp completely. In such cases, you can try using natural remedies.
How To Get Rid Of Damp Hair Smell Naturally?
Damp hair smell can put you in embarrassing situations. Thankfully, Ayurveda has a natural solution for it. Ayurvedic texts recommend the use of Reetha, Shikakai, Neem, Amla and Hibiscus, which have antifungal and antibacterial properties to cleanse your hair. These Ayurvedic shampoos easily remove the unpleasant smell from your hair without stripping off its natural oils.
1. Ayurvedic Shampoos To Remove Damp Smell From Hair
A. Reetha (Indian Soapberry)
Washing your hair with powered Reetha (soap nut) is a traditional method of cleansing your hair without any side effects. When mixed with water, due to the presence of saponins, reetha produces a mild lather. This is used as a natural alternative to chemical based shampoos. Reetha is also known for promoting hair growth and combating hair related issues such as premature greying, scalp infections, dandruff, hair fall.
B. Shikakai (Acacia Concinna)
Shikakai or soap pod is a natural cleansing agent that has antifungal and antibacterial properties. The use of Shikakai to remove dandruff, scalp infections and for hair growth is mentioned in Ayurvedic texts. Shikakai, being mild in nature, effectively cleanses your hair without opening up the cuticle and drying the hair in the process.
C. Nimba (Neem)
Neem contains antiseptic properties that remove damp smell from hair usually caused by the accumulation of bacteria or fungus. It is also very effective against dandruff and other scalp infections. Soak neem leaves overnight, grind it into a paste and leave it on hair for 30 mins before washing off.
D. Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry)
Amla is a natural coolant that balances Pitta Dosha and reduces excess heat and sebum secretion on the scalp. Being anti microbial in nature, Amla prevents hair odour and keeps hair naturally shiny.
E. Japa (Hibiscus)
Make a natural shampoo by adding hibiscus flowers, leaves and some tulsi leaves and grind them to a paste with water. You will notice that the mixture will begin to froth. Apply this on your hair and wash off after 30 mins to keep hair odour away.
2. Ayurvedic Oils To Remove Damp Smell From Hair
These below mentioned essential oils have a naturally pleasing scent coupled with anti-microbial properties that keep bacteria away. Apply them in the night or before a hair wash to prevent damp odor in your hair.
A. Lavender Oil
It is rich in phytochemicals such as linalool and linalyl acetate, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties that fight odor causing bacteria on your scalp and hair. Along with keeping scalp infections away, lavender oil is also a hair growth booster.
B. Clove Oil
Clove has been used in several Ayurvedic remedies due to its therapeutic properties. Clove is used to cure a variety of skin and hair problems. Rich in antioxidants and anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial in nature, clove oil  can be applied to the scalp and hair to prevent damp hair smell.
C. Tea Tree Oil
This essential oil is extremely effective against microbial activities on the scalp and other parts of the body. Tea tree oil  has been used as a topical medicine to treat various skin diseases over 100 years worldwide. Being non-sticky in nature, you can also use this oil as a leave-in conditioner.
D. Neem Oil
Due to medical properties, neem oil is commonly used in Ayurveda to treat a variety of skin and hair conditions. Slightly viscous in nature, this oil can be applied an hour before shower and then washed off with a mild shampoo.
Should Hair Dyes Be Applied To Damp Hair?
Though there is no such rule that hair must be damp or dry when applying dye, experts believe that the colour is better absorbed in the damp state. Applying dye to damp hair may also make the dying process slightly pocket friendly as you’ll require less colour to cover your entire hair. The logic behind this is damp is more porous in nature compared to dry hair, which allows it to absorb the dye easily. Apart from easy absorption, the dye is more evenly distributed along the length of your hair when it is damp.
A few drawbacks of applying dye on wet hair is that the added moisture can dilute the colour and you may end up getting a lighter shade. Another problem is that wet application can be done only for semi permanent colours which do not possess ammonia. If you are thinking of a permanent colour change, dry hair is the best option.
What Happens If You Bleach Damp Hair?
Bleach is generally applied to dry hair as the moisture in damp hair may dilute the bleach and you may get a subtler tone change. If you are planning to drastically change your hair colour to a lighter or darker shade, it must be done on dry hair for desired results. However, for a softer change of hair tone, your hairstylist may apply the bleach on damp hair.
Since the developer is water based, mix a lower percentage with the bleach powder if you are applying on damp hair. But remember, damp hair will make the bleaching process last longer and you may have to redo it after six months.
The common belief that you might catch a cold if you go out with wet hair is a myth. Wet hair does not make you susceptible to getting a flu that is caused by a virus.
How To Sleep With Damp Hair?
As mentioned earlier, leaving your hair damp for prolonged periods can bring up some serious hair issues. This rule also applies to sleeping with damp hair. The moisture in your hair gets absorbed in the pillow and prevents your hair from drying completely. Furthermore, the heat from your head and the moisture in your pillow allows for bacterial growth, which is unsafe for your hair and scalp.
However, if you must sleep with damp hair, we suggest you take a few precautions.
1. Use A Satin/ Silk Pillowcase
Since damp hair is more prone to breakage, it's safer to sleep on a satin/silk pillowcase which causes much less friction compared to cotton. This will also prevent your hair from getting tangled.
2. Use A Leave In Conditioner
To prevent your damp hair from appearing limp and dull in the morning, use a leave in conditioner. Aloe vera gel is a good natural option which deeply conditions your hair, making it hydrated and healthy in the morning.
3. Tie Damp Hair In A Loose Braid
Leaving damp hair open while you sleep is a risk, as it can cause breakage due to friction. Tie your hair in a loose braid to allow hair to air dry and prevent wear and tear of the hair shaft. An added advantage of wearing your damp in a loose braid is that you wake up with some amazing natural curls.
The Last Word
Now that your damp hair worries are taken care of, go ahead and give your hair the proper care it requires. Make sure to maintain a daily hair care routine, eat a healthy diet, and practice healthy lifestyle routines to see best results. Follow the recommended Ayurvedic hair care remedies for damage-free tresses that look beautiful even when wet.Know Your Dosha Now