18 Best Tricks to Treat and Prevent Damaged Hair
Just like our skin, hair needs some tender love and care to stay healthy. We can easily damage our hair from all that we do to it, from drying to styling to straightening. However, getting it back to tip top shape can be a challenge. Damaged hair can be difficult to treat if you don’t know the right ways to go about it.
In this guide, we’ll explore common causes of damaged hair, how to repair it, and more importantly, how to prevent it in the future.
To understand how hair gets damaged so easily, you have to understand what hair is. Hair is essentially a mix of fibers that are held tightly together. Its outermost layer protect the inner layers, which are more sensitive. Hair is surprisingly delicate and once you damage the top most layer, your hair becomes more susceptible to damage.
Keep in mind that everyone’s hair is different. The makeup of your hair can also be determined by genetics and environmental factors. What works on someone else’s hair might not necessarily work on yours and vice versa.
What causes dry and damaged hair?
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Dry and damaged hair can be caused by a number of reasons. The root cause can be hard to determine. However, here are a few of the most common offenders:
- Hair Dying & Coloring: If you’re addicted to coloring your hair, you may want to think twice next time. The real damage when changing your hair color is when you bleach it. Bleaching your hair will remove the natural color and essentially break down your hair fibers, causing it to be weak. Changing your hair color to a darker one isn’t as damaging but still can have negative effects. When coloring your hair, it’s best to use a natural dye free of phthalates and sulfates. If you are set on bleaching your hair, check out this guide by Cake Pie on what you need to know before you bleach your hair.
- Perms: Once you get your first perm, you’ll probably want to do it again. However, perms are very damaging to your hair since the process essentially breaks down the fibers in your hair and reshapes it. Perms significantly weaken your hair and makes it more dry and brittle.
- Heat Damage: Heat is almost unavoidable on your hair but it can do a lot of damage. From blow drying to curling, heat can over dry or even burn your hair if you’re not careful or use it excessively. Try to limit that amount of heat tools you use on your hair and air dry when possible. When you are using heat tools, make sure you adjust the temperature so that it isn’t too hot and also use a heat protectant spray on your hair. Here are some tips from Cassandra Beccai on how you can repair heat damaged natural hair.
- Over Washing: Can washing your hair be a bad thing? Yes, it can. Over washing your hair can strip it of it’s natural oils, which causes your hair to lose it’s moisture and luster. Try to only wash your hair 2-3 times a week. In between washes, use a dry shampoo to freshen up your hair and suck up excess oil. If you must wash your hair daily, be sure to use a gentle clarifying shampoo meant for daily use.
- Braiding: Braiding your hair can cause damage when not done carefully. Be careful not to make your braids too tight, as this can break your strands or pull it from the roots. If possible, don’t wear your hair in braids or ponytails everyday.
- Brushing: While it’s a good habit to brush your hair, excessive brushing can actually be bad for your hair. Brushing too much can cause split ends or hair breakage. Be extra careful when brushing your hair when it’s wet. Be sure to use a special detangler brush made for wet hair.
- Extensions: If you don’t attach your hair extensions probably, you can cause damage at the roots of your hair. This makes it harder to treat and can actually be quite painful. When possible, consult a professional hair stylist for extensions. However, if you need to do it at home, check out this video by Karissa Pukas on how to clip-in your hair extensions.
How Do You Treat Damaged Hair
If you do have damaged hair, there are a few ways you can fix it. Many of these tips & tricks can be a long process so be patient. Healthy hair doesn’t happen overnight.
- Cut your hair: If your hair is damaged beyond repair, your easiest and best option is to cut your hair. It might not be an ideal solution but it will get rid of the problem at it’s source. Hair typically grows at a rate of 1/2 inch per month so don’t worry, it’ll grow back in no time.
- Revamp your routine: Anytime your hair is damaged, you should revamp your routine and consider how you can repair this damage, as well as prevent it from happening again in the future. Stay away from any products with harsh chemicals. This will make your hair weaker. A simple routine with a few natural products is better than a more complex routine using a lot of different products. Your hair produces its own natural oils to keep it healthy so don’t try to mask that.
- Use a hair treatment: Many issues with hair can be treated with a simple at home hair treatment. If your hair is brittle or dry, try using a deep conditioning mask every week for at least 4 weeks. During this time, avoid any products or tools that might cause more damage to your hair. You should notice that your hair will become more hydrated after a couple weeks. Make this treatment a routine to keep your hair silky and shiny. Check out this video by Hlao Thao on her recommendations for the best treatments for dry and damaged hair.
If you find that your hair is severely damaged or any attempt to repair your hair isn’t working, consult a professional or physician. Your problem may be deeper than just external causes so be sure to get your scalp and hair examined.
How can you prevent damaged hair?
Be conscious of what you're doing to your hair because it's fragile.
- Strong hair starts from within: The best and first defense to healthy hair is a healthy body. Strong hair starts from within. A well-balanced and nutritious diet will give your hair the vitamins it needs to grow strong and healthy. If I spiked your curiosity then check this article out on the 10 Foods to Eat for Thicker and Healthier Hair.
- Take vitamins: Vitamins made specifically for hair growth are a great way to treat your hair from within. They are natural and effective way to achieve healthy looking hair.
- Use a gentle shampoo: If you want to have consistently healthy hair, you should invest in a good shampoo. Make sure you look for ones that don’t have any of those harsh chemicals, like phthalates, sulfates, and parabens. For example, sodium laureth sulfate is a common chemical found in shampoo that can be damaging. However, it causes the lather people desire. Gentle shampoos without chemicals might feel a little different but don’t worry, they’re much better for your hair. Check out this list from the Natural Haven Bloom on the best natural shampoos.
- Always condition: After every shampoo, make sure you condition. Conditioning your hair helps replenish moisture loss in the washing process and creates a barrier to environmental factors. You should also use a deep conditioner once a week to give your hair extra hydration, especially in the winter time.
- Trim your ends: Most damage to hair happens either at the tip or the root. It’s difficult to treat damage at the root. However, the tips of your hair are much easier to manage. Between haircuts, trim your ends to get rid of split ends and discoloration. This will also help keep your haircut fresh so that you can avoid getting haircuts too often.
- Invest in a good brush: All hair brushes are not created equal. Every woman should have at least 3 brushes: a paddle brush, a round brush, and a teasing brush. A paddle brush is great for straight and sleek styles. A round brush should be used for curly or voluminous hair. Lastly, use a teasing brush when you want extra volume. If your hair tends to be very tangly when it’s wet, use a detangling brush. This works wonders on wet hair and you’ll have less fall out. Here is a great guide from Allure on how to choose the best hairbrush.
- Limit the use of heat tools: Heat tools are never good for your hair, however you will inevitably use them. When you use a heat tool, such as a blow dryer, a hair straightener, or a hair curler, make sure you use a heat protectant spray. This acts as a barrier between your hair and the heat tool. However, any heat protectant spray, no matter how good it is, won’t protect against very high heat. Make sure you use your tool on a low to medium setting and don’t leave it on your hair for more than a few seconds.
- Less is more: Lastly, always remember that less is more. Your hair is delicate and you shouldn’t overpower it with an army of products. Instead, find a few that work for your hair and stick to it. Your hair will appreciate a good routine.
Prevention is the best defense against damaged hair. It can be difficult to get the hair you want. But be patient. With good habits, your hair will grow healthy and strong over time. Test what works for you and stick to it.