There’s almost no point in trying to tame your locks in the mornings, when you’re dealing with a head of damaged hair. Damaged hair requires special treatment and tender, special care for it to look and feel healthy again.
Damaged hair is more than just split ends. It may also look frizzy or dull and be difficult to maintain. Once the hair is split or broken, nothing can fuse it back together, says Beauty Lab executive director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. Powerful conditioners and treatments can seal the outer layer (cuticle) of strands, providing a temporarily smooth appearance and protect from further damage. However, says Aral, the only real long-term fix is by trimming the damaged areas.
In addition, patience, time and taking steps to prevent new damage is important.
What Damages Your Hair?
Your damaged hair is often a byproduct of different things, or a combination of factors. These are some of the most common causes:
Bleach is used to remove colour from the hair strands. It makes the hair swell, allowing the bleach to penetrate the inner part of the strand, it then dissolves the melanin that gives your hair pigment.
Doing this too much can leave hair dry, brittle and fragile. The permanent changes in hair structure can make it less strong and elastic. The American Academy of Dermatology says lightening your hair more than three shades, requires higher volumes of bleach, which causes more hair damage.
Using Too Much Heat
Shockingly – hot tools can reach temperatures higher that what we tend to cook our food with! This can seriously fry your strands – literally cooking the hair fibers and can lead to porous hair. Using heat too often at high temperatures can make hair prone to damage.
Dying Your Hair Too Much
Chemical dyes can remove your hair’s natural moisture. This can make it coarse to the touch. Where possible, re-apply dye just to the roots, and space dying hair 10 to 12 weeks apart at minimum, says George Papanikolas, Matrix celebrity colorist in Los Angeles.
Major colour changes can cause major harm when done wrong. It can leads to hair breakage, even loss.
Damaged hair looks like…
A damaged head of hair feels coarse, like straw. The hair shaft is often weak and brittle, prone to breakage. While it is commonly recognised with unruly strands and split ends, it also crunches when touched.
Can You Repair Damaged Hair?
To some extent, damaged hair can be repaired. But if the hair is extremely damaged to the point where it breaks off, it is best to cut a haircut and start fresh.
1. Use Shampoo and Conditioner For Damaged Hair
Using certain shampoos can affect your hair health. Opt for a sulfate-free shampoo made for damaged hair. Avoid shampooing your hair frequently, and use dry shampoo if your scalp needs refreshing in between.
2. Wash Your Hair In Lukewarm Water
As heavenly as a hot shower feels, it does more damage to our skin and our hair. Speaking off which, excessive heat can damage your hair regardless – so use the lowest setting on any products. Or limit the time that the iron or curler touches the hair. Rinsing with cool or cold water after shampooing can help protect the inner layer of your hair.
3. Use A Deep Conditioning Treatment
Hair masks are nutritious hair mixtures that deeply condition and can repair damaged hair. It contains many healing ingredients like vitamins and oils. You could also use a hydrating leave-in conditioner after washing your hair. It reduces frizz and seals split ends. It also makes the hair look healthy and feel softer.
4. Always Use Heat Protectant + Air Dry
Try and void heat altogether – give air drying a go! If you have to use heat, be sure to apply a heat protection hair spray or serum that can create a protective barrier over the hair strands.
5. How Often You’re Brushing + Don’t Brush Wet Hair
The bristles of your brush should be soft and smooth. Avoid the ones with those plastic balls on the ends. If you use a comb, it should be well spaced out. Do not brush wet hair. Water swells and stretches the hair shaft, resulting in the shingle-like outer layer to lift, explains GH Beauty Lab senior chemist Sabina Wizemann. Adding stress from brushing can cause breakage.
6. Get A Haircut + Regular Trims
Stop ignoring your hairdresser’s calls – regular haircuts remove dry, damaged ends. Your hairdresser is the ultimate expert to help you bring your hair back from the grave. In between trims, follow good hair care practices to prevent damage.
7. Eat a balanced diet
Enjoy a diet loaded with whole foods like vegetables and fruits and whole grains. This is not only great for your gut and bones, but also your hair. Minerals and vitamins like Biotin, vitamins A and C, and iron are all needed for strong, shiny hair.