Are you struggling with dry, brittle, lackluster, or split hair? If so, you may be suffering from hair damage, and it’s time to make a U-turn on your current hair routine. Read on for tips and tricks that might help repair damaged hair back to its former glory.
What Is Hair Damage?
When hair becomes damaged, the outer layer – the hair cuticle – becomes raised. Ideally, hair cuticles should lie flat (this is what gives you smooth, shiny hair). Flat hair cuticles also lock in moisture. Hair damage can show up in several ways, but most commonly it will appear as:
- Dry hair
- Frizzy hair
- Brittle hair
- Rough hair
- Lackluster hair
- Split ends
It may also tangle more easily because the raised cuticles cause hair strands to “catch” and become intertwined.1
What Causes Hair Damage?
Hair damage can be caused by improper hair care — with the overuse of coloring and styling techniques being common reasons.
1. Heat Styling
Hair dryers, flat irons, curling wands… they’re all able to transform the cuticle of the hair so you can have gloriously straight hair or bouncy curls instantly. But they also dry the cuticle and cause heat damage to the hair. This heat damage may appear as split ends, hair breakage, very dry or rough hair, and hair that tangles easily. Excessive heat styling can cause extremely damaged hair.2
2. Bleaching And Chemical Dyes
Both of these color-treated hair processes use ammonia to lift the hair’s cuticle. This allows bleach or dye to enter the hair shaft and color it.
Bleaching (the process of removing the hair’s natural pigment) can leave hair looking and feeling dry, brittle, and rough. And adding pigments in the form of chemical dyes can also suck moisture from the hair.
Once hair becomes dry, it’s extremely susceptible to split ends. Overdoing either chemical process can cause hair breakage, as the hair literally becomes “fried” by the chemicals.3
3. Tight Hairstyles
Tight hairstyles, like buns, ponytails, cornrows, dreadlocks, hair extensions, or weaves, can lead to hair breakage and/or hair loss if worn too frequently. This is because they pull on the hair so tightly.
This pulling can break hair off as well as, more seriously, damage the hair follicles. When hair follicles are seriously damaged, they cannot grow back. This type of hair loss is known as traction alopecia.4
4. UV Rays
The sun’s rays don’t just burn the skin. UVA and UVB rays can also dry and damage your hair cuticle, acting like bleach. And, much like skin pigment, lighter hair is usually the most vulnerable.
Add to this that when the sun is at its harshest (the summertime) many people also love to swim. But salt and chlorine can also dry out, bleach, and damage the hair.5
The Best Hair Care Routine To Help Fix Damaged Hair
Damaged hair requires immediate special care. And, aside from the unsightly look of damaged hair, the worst case scenario is breakage and hair loss. Nobody wants that.
So, how can you repair hair that’s dry, brittle, and lackluster? The very best way is to protect your hair so it doesn’t become damaged in the first place. But second to that, start by embracing these healthy habits immediately.
Trim Your Hair
Style With Kindness
If you must use heat styling tools, do so sparingly (i.e. not every single day). And always use a heat protector product–– which acts as a shield for your hair. A heat protectant can come as a spray, cream, oil, or serum, and it also may help add shine and calm frizz.7
When upstyling, choose hair bands that won’t hurt your hair so much. Never use rubber bands that you’d find in an office, or hair elastics with metal bars. Instead choose thick elastics, or (more ideally) a soft scrunchie. Silk is one of the most gentle fabrics for hair, so a silky scrunchie is your best friend.
Protect Hair From The Sun
When you head out into the sun, think about sun protection as a unified act for your skin and hair:
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat, or wrap a stylish scarf around your hair. Or, go one step further and invest in a sweet sun parasol.
- If you like to swim, wear a swim cap or scoop your hair up under a hat. If hair gets wet, always rinse it immediately after your swim.
- Choose to go out earlier or later in the day when the sun’s uv rays are less harsh.
- Invest in a good SPF product for your hair.8
Wet Hair: Handle With Care
When hair is wet it’s at its most frail, so it’s absolutely essential that you handle it with love and care. Here’s how:
- Wash hair with lukewarm water.
- Use a microfiber hair towel or a soft cotton t-shirt to dry hair. Don’t rub your hair dry, just wrap it up and leave it.
- Don’t blow out hair while it’s soaking wet. You should consider towel or air drying your hair first to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Use a wide-tooth comb or a special wet brush to comb hair through. This avoids the hair being pulled while it’s most fragile.9
Soothe and Smooth With Good Products
Having an arsenal of great hair products for your hair care is just as important as skin products for your skincare. To repair damaged hair, seek out products like:
- An ultra-hydrating cleansing conditioner that substitutes as both a shampoo and conditioner without the harsh ingredients found in many shampoos.
- At-home protein treatments or hair masks.
- Hair tonics that can help provide antioxidant protection against toxins and pollutants.
- Nourishing treatment serums that can help seal cuticles and smooth away split ends. Ideally, invest in one that has heat and UV protection.
- You might also like to add in nourishing hair supplements to help support your hair from the inside out.
- If the air is particularly dry where you live, consider a humidifier at night to help put more moisture back into your skin and hair.
Restore Damaged Hair: Gentle Hair Care
To start to repair hair, it’s essential to adopt a gentle hair care routine. Even better? Start following these healthy hair tips before your hair becomes damaged.
Your hair may feel healthy and strong, but it’s immensely fragile. If you can start to view your hair in this way, it will help to guide every decision you make when it comes to hair care.
If your hair damage doesn’t seem to be improving with intense care, you should speak to a professional for the best guidance on how to move forward.
Got more questions about how to repair damaged hair? Head on over to our Damaged Hair FAQ page!