7 Simple Ways To Repair Damaged Hair
Take a minute to look at your hair. Is it dry, dull, or frizzy? Do you see split ends or breakage? If you answered yes more than once, chances are you have damaged hair.
“Almost everything we do to our hair—washing, combing, and brushing—compromises the surface fibres of hair,” says Kevin Mancuso, trichologist and global creative director for Nexxus. “Deeper problems happen with things like heat styling, colouring, bleaching, and other chemical processes.” As the damage accumulates, it messes with your hair’s structural integrity from the inside out. Thankfully, these remedies can help you achieve healthier hair ASAP.
1. Wash wisely
Just like you have a protective and repairing skincare regimen for your face, you should have a similar routine for your hair. “Washing and rinsing your hair with the wrong products can dehydrate it,” says Mancuso. “That’s why it is important to choose a formulation tailored to your hair type and condition.”
If you have colour-treated hair, Mancuso recommends washing with a cleansing conditioner or co-washing (using a rich cream that hydrates and cleanses hair without surfactants) to keep all the moisture in place.
If your hair is damaged, especially if you use any sort of bleach or chemical treatment, you need to add back the keratin and glutamic acid that are lost. “Severely damaged hair loses high levels of both nutrients,” says Mancuso. Look for those ingredients in your shampoo and conditioner.
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READ MORE: 6 Sun Protection Hair Products That’ll Help With Sun Damaged Hair
2. Up your protein intake
Ninety percent of your hair is made up of protein, which is why stylists and dermatologists (and Kim Kardashian!) are obsessed with hair protein treatments. “They strengthen hair, protect it from excessive moisture loss, make it feel thicker and look shinier and, to an extent, repair damage,” says Dr Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist practising at Wexler Dermatology in New York City. They usually come in the form of conditioners, serums, or masks containing high levels of proteins to help repair broken proteins in your hair.
Protein treatments aren’t necessarily new, but the formulas have been refined and improved in recent years to deliver the best possible results. And, depending on your level of hair damage, you may need a different intensity. If you overdo it on the protein, your hair can become stiff and, ironically enough, prone to breakage. So make sure you’re alternating protein treatments with moisturizing options.
3. Try a DIY treatment
If you have minor hair damage, a formula whipped up in your kitchen can help. (Fair warning: Many recipes rely on eggs, egg whites, or a combo of both—so expect it to get messy.) Try a recipe that incorporates a protein with some sort of conditioning oil so you can restore both protein and hydration to your locks. You can also mix up Greek yoghurt with honey and coconut oil to make a deeply conditioning hair mask. Just be sure to use plain, unflavoured yoghurt—you don’t want blueberry or strawberry chunks lingering in your hair! “Remember to rinse thoroughly or hair will feel rough, stiff, or tangled from the protein residue,” says Dr Fusco.
4. Lay off the hot tools
You probably saw this one coming. Sure it’s obvious, but that’s because it works. Hair is almost entirely made up of proteins, and “heat styling damages those proteins,” says Mancuso. Just because your blow dryer and flat iron are off limits, doesn’t mean you’re stuck unstyled.
On days that you just need some heat, always use a heat protecting spray. Mancuso recommends moving fast with the dryer and iron to cut down on styling time and damage. And to really stretch out the results of all that heat styling, bust out your shower cap and reach for the dry shampoo!
5. Protect your hair from sun damage
All that time outside can take a toll on your hair. Not only is your scalp just as susceptible to skin cancer as the rest of your body, but UV exposure can also lead to a break down in protein, causing breakage or even hair loss. If you don’t want to rub greasy sunscreen all over your hair (understandable!), try one of these styling products with built-in UV protection. They use ingredients you’re used to seeing in traditional sunscreens (avobenzone, zinc oxide, etc) and natural extracts to protect, but they also serve other purposes, like hydrating, smoothing, and making your styles last longer.
6. Embrace oils
In case you haven’t heard, hair oils are your friend. And they don’t necessarily lead to greasy strands. Look for options that are dry and lightweight. “I love coconut, babassu, marula, castor, and argan, just to name a few,” says Mancuso. Oils are deeply moisturizing and can replenish lost lipids in damaged strands. Run a few drops through your damp or dry hair, focusing mostly on the ends.
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7. Brush up on your combing skills
Even combing or brushing scrapes the surface of your hair, which can cause dulling and chip the cuticle, says Mancuso. This can cause breakage over time.
When you’re detangling your hair, especially if it’s wet (wet hair is much more fragile than dry hair), always take your time and start from the bottom up. If you have lots of knots, it might be time to add in a detangler. And look for brushes or combs that are specifically designed to be gentle, like Wetbrush.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com