When we think about damaged hair, usually the first thing that comes to mind is frizz, overall dullness and occasional breakage. Unfortunately, sometimes the situation gets much worse. If you ever seriously fried your hair with heat tools or lived through the moment of absolute panic when you wash the bleach off your hair and what you have on your head looks more like pasta than hair, you know what we mean. Is there a way to bring seriously compromised hair back to life and how can you do it?
Causes of hair damage (and their symptoms)
Let’s begin with discussing the roots of the problem and how you can tell that something is wrong. Overall, the four most common causes are heat damage, colour damage and chemical damage. Some of them are direr than others and the intensity of symptoms vary depending on the scale of the problem.
- Cause: overuse of hot styling tools, keeping the heat setting too high
- Why does it happen: heat opens hair cuticles – when used in excess, it can break disulfide bonds within hair strands, compromising them permanently
- Symptoms: split ends, visible dryness and dullness, frizziness, noticeable flyaways, breakage, tangling, sudden hair loss, change in texture (roughness, coarseness)
- Cause: aggressive hair dyes, failed at-home colourings, lack of proper care, frequent extreme colour changes
- Why does it happen: colour depositing dyes open the cuticle, making it prone to damage; most formulas also remove the moisture from the hair follicles and some can irritate the scalp
- Symptoms: a parched look of the strands, visible dryness and dullness, frizziness, breakage, tangling, white nodules at the end of your hair shaft, sudden hair loss
- Cause: hair lightening (especially rapid, from very dark to very light, too often repeated and/or with formula held on hair for too long), perm, relaxer
- Why does it happen: Bleach (lightening formula) breaks down the natural fatty acids on the hair shaft, weakening the strand. Relaxer and perm formulas chemically alter the texture of your hair, straining its condition in the process.
- Symptoms: visible dullness and dryness, breakage, loss of elasticity and volume, brittleness, excessive tangling, “sliminess” of strands when hair is wet, sudden hair loss
Can you repair severely chemically damaged hair?
It depends on the severity of the situation. Currently, we have access to very effective treatments for dry, damaged hair that can actually restore compromised hair by repairing its disulfide bonds (more about it in a minute). Nevertheless, sometimes the changes are irreversible – regardless of your best efforts, your hair will not go back to its original state. This most often happens with chemical damage, after botched lightening or relaxing. The issues that can be observed with permanently damaged hair are:
- Severe hair loss – tufts of hair stay on the brush and even in your hands as you touch the strands
- Severe breakage – you can see big strands of hair of different lengths, sometimes they even snap as you touch them
- Change of texture – hair gets very coarse, rough and almost impossible to detangle
- Sliminess – hair refuse to dry and are slimy to touch when wet
In such circumstances, your only option is to cut your hair short (in extreme cases even shave it), allowing it to regrow from scratch.
What are the best at-home hair treatments for damaged hair?
Once you notice that your hair has lost its integrity, it’s important to act fast. First of all, you have to stop doing things that further worsen the situation.
- Avoid harsh care products that may further dry your hair.
- End every wash by rinsing your hair with cool (not cold!) water – cool water tightens cuticles preventing excessive loss of moisture.
- Be gentle when combing and never do it when your hair is wet – it’s when your hair is the most fragile.
- Avoid heat-styling altogether and if you really must do it, use the lowest temperature possible, apply products that ensure thermal protection and limit days when you use heat tools as much as possible.
- Protect your hair from the sun and replace regular elastic with more gentle scrunchies – the silk ones would be ideal.
When it comes to actual treatments, it’s good to start using hair masks at least once a week. Conditioning during every wash is a must (except for days when you do the hair mask) and it’s best to swap your regular shampoo for a more nourishing one. Deeply moisturising leave-in treatments will be your friends – look for ones that seal hair cuticles and strengthen the hair fibre. Finally, apply hair oil to the ends of your hair after each wash and even after each brushing session.
With all of that being said, if you want a more holistic approach that ensures the best results, you should begin the regeneration process by visiting a specialist. A great hairstylist will be able to assess the situation, hand-pick the most fitting home-care products and recommend in-salon services that will speed up the healing process significantly. They will also provide you with a much-needed trim – in 9 cases out of 10 damaged hair are in desperate need of removing split ends.
What are the best hair treatments for damaged hair you can ask for in a salon?
Good salons usually have their own proprietary treatments focused on bringing hair that has been compromised back to life. They usually consist of deeply moisturising leave-ins, revitalizing conditioners and bond-building masks containing high levels of proteins.
Olaplex treatment is always a good option. It is a revolutionary treatment that restores compromised hair by repairing its disulfide bonds that can do wonders for truly damaged manes. Apart from the in-salon treatment, your stylist will probably encourage you to get a few products from the wide Olaplex range that will allow you to maintain the effects at home.
Keratin treatment is worth taking into consideration, though you have to be careful. In theory, it should be perfect for you as filling your hair with the protective protein that is keratin is said to strengthen it and prevent damage, though you have to keep in mind that the treatment itself involves using extreme heat and strong chemicals. For sure it shouldn’t be done too often and you should discuss the idea with your stylist, who will be able to professionally assess the situation.
You can find the best salons that offer hair treatment for damaged hair in the UK on Booksy! Choose your neighbourhood or turn on the location services for the biggest accuracy and book your hair-changing appointment with just a few clicks. Your hair follicles will thank us later!