Before you can repair hair damage, you first need to establish the cause. There are four main types of hair damage: colour and chemical damage; heat and mechanical damage; environmental damage; and genetics and health factors. Click here to read more. Once you've established the cause, here are some basic steps to remedying the damage.
Use a good repair shampoo
Look for shampoos for damaged hair that are gentle when cleansing. Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (SLSA rather than its dehydrating SLS cousin) is one sulphate-free cleansing option. Look for damage shampoos that nourish and hydrate, such as those containing argan, avocado, macadamia, coconut or olive oil, and avoid silicone-based ingredients that coat the hair. Glycerin is commonly used in skincare to hydrate, and in damaged haircare it will also act as a deep conditioner that will retain moisture.
Reduce colour and chemical damage
You need to decide which is more important - your hair condition or hair colour. If your hair is already damaged, putting it under more stress with further chemical treatments will only make it harder to regain its health. The most damaging process for weak hair is bleaching and lightening, as it raises the cuticle layer the most while breaking down the bonds and melanin in your hair to create a lighter colour. If bleach is overlapped (which is a risk even with the best colour application if you are looking for a seamless colour result), this will further weaken your hair. So reducing the amount of colour treatments will go a long way to getting your hair healthy again.
If you cannot compromise on your hair colour, work with your colourist to discuss your hair goals. If you love a bright blonde, having less blonde applied through the top areas and on the parting will reduce the frequency of colour maintenance, giving your hair a break in between colours as you will not notice the regrowth as much. Techniques such as face-framing balayage and micro-light foiling will make regrowth less noticeable while still allowing you to retain your pop of colour.
You should also use hair bond boosters when you colour your hair. Olaplex is designed to rebuild disulphide bonds to protect your hair when undergoing chemical treatments. Using home-care bond-boosting products will also prevent further weakening. Olaplex's No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo is one of the best for damaged hair after colour treatments as it will boost hair bonds using its key ingredient aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, relinking broken hair bonds and protecting your hair against further damage during colouring.
Limit your heat styling and mechanical damage
Embracing your natural hair texture is also a great way to get healthier hair. If you rely on perming and chemical straightening products, or even if you are addicted to heat styling, it is worth considering embracing your natural hair texture. By using the right styling products, you should be able to eliminate frizz without heat, enhance natural wave and curl, and nourish your hair at the same time. Book a session with your stylist to teach you how to style your hair, working with your natural texture.
Use heat protectors on damaged hair to reduce the effects of heat and provide a shield to regular styling. Damaged hair is dehydrated and fragile, so adding more heat will result in further breakage and crispy hair texture. Quality heat protectors will contain humectants such as propylene glycol, which preserve moisture and prevent frizz, keratin proteins that will strengthen the hair, and natural oils (not silicones) that will protect and seal the outer cuticle.
Use a clever hair dryer to reduce further damage. A hair dryer that uses ionic technology will bond water molecules to your hair and keep it in better shape. GHD’s Air Hairdryer is great for maintaining healthy hair. Some dryers also regulate the temperature to reduce your hair being overheated. Dyson’s Supersonic dryer is speedy and has a built-in microchip to reduce heat which will not allow the temperature to go above 302 degrees - perfect for saving damaged hair.
Finally, stop hair breakage on damaged hair by using a detangling brush or wide-tooth comb. These are designed to gently unravel knots with minimal tension and will reduce breakage. Tangle Teezer uses different bristle lengths to achieve knot-free hair even when wet, which is when breakage is more likely to occur.
How can I repair my damaged hair at home?
Stick to a regular home hair repair treatment. This is the key to getting your hair into better condition over the long term. If your hair is damaged, it is essential to add protein for strength, replace lost moisture to prevent it becoming brittle, and protect the hair from heat and the elements. Follow these four home-hair rituals for healthier hair:
- Use a pre-shampoo treatment on dry hair. It will provide protection when your hair is being shampooed and in a weaker state. Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer strengthens hair with regular use, drawing on glycerin and castor oil to moisturise and nourish.
- Use a shampoo for damaged hair that contains protein boosters. Adding proteins such as soy, rice or quinoa will strengthen your hair. Aveda’s Damage Remedy Restructuring Shampoo uses quinoa protein to strengthen the structure of the hair and is especially good on colour-treated hair.
- Blot hair dry (don’t rub) before applying a repair conditioner on the hair. If you comb conditioner through the hair, use a wide-tooth comb to distribute the product as hair is more fragile and likely to break under tension. Kitsch microfibre towels, which come in a range of colours, absorb water gently and are a great way to avoid rubbing.
- Use a hair repair mask once a week, especially if your hair is subjected to extreme weather conditions. Leave the treatment on for 30 minutes, covered with a shower cap, to allow it to absorb. Kérastase's Resistance Masque Therapiste is a butter-textured masque that deeply penetrates hair to restore strength and boost elasticity.
- Always rinse hair with lukewarm water (cold if you can stand it). Using water that is overly hot will strip out the moisture, reducing any benefits of your treatment.