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HOW TO: Care for Your Damaged Hair

Updated on October 26, 2014
What dry, damaged hair looks like.
What dry, damaged hair looks like. | Source

Once upon a time, I bleached my hair three times in two days.

Somehow, and very luckily, my hair didn't all break off at my ears. But it did go from being thick, healthy never-dyed hair to...straw. It frizzed, it itched, and it repelled water and styling products like the wrong side of a magnet.

But now, my dyed hair feels just as soft and healthy as it used to. Here's how I got there.

TRESemme Conditioner is good stuff, and you get a huge amount for a good price.
TRESemme Conditioner is good stuff, and you get a huge amount for a good price.

Condition--A Lot.

This one's pretty basic, but it's how you do it that's important. First, buy the biggest, cheapest bottle of conditioner that you can find. If your hair is colored, it's important it's a white shampoo so you don't deposit any unwanted colors in your hair. Or, if you have blond hair, you can use a purple conditioner to tone it, but those are typically more expensive, and you can get the same toning effects using a purple shampoo, which you'll go through a lot more slowly than you're going to go through this conditioner.

About an hour before you shower, slather your dry hair in conditioner. And I mean slather; get it nice and wet with the stuff. If you shower in the morning and don't want to get up an hour early, you can do it the night before, wrap your head in a scarf or in plastic wrap, and sleep in it.

If you color your hair with a vegetable dye like Manic Panic or Special Effects, this is a good time to refresh your color. Mix some of it with the conditioner before you put it on your head. Make sure you comb it through with wide-tooth come to distribute it evenly, so you don't end up patchy.

Bring the bottle of conditioner into the shower with you, then rinse, shampoo, and condition again. Use as little shampoo as you can, and concentrate on massaging it into your scalp instead of scrubbing your actual hair with it so you don't suck out any more of your new moisture than you have to. Then squeeze out excess water from your hair, put on more conditioner, and let that sit while you shave your legs or lather up your body or belt out some Adele or whatever else you do in the shower. Rinse your hair, then wash your face; you want to do face last to get any residue of hair products off so you don't break out.

It's possible you won't even need to shampoo--in which case, you don't need to apply that second round of conditioner. Most people shampoo more often than they need to. You can try a natural shampoo alternative, like baking soda or vinegar, which is gentler on your hair, or you can just shampoo less often. Giving your scalp a nice rub and rinse with no product at all will get out enough oil to last you another day or two. And there's always dry shampoo.

So basically, you're conditioning within an inch of your life. If you have typical white-girl hair, it's very, very hard to condition too much. If you're a natural-haired woman of color, that's oftentimes not the case. Two of the best natural hair blogs, curlynikki and blackgirlonghair, have good posts on how to tell if you're over-conditioning.

Avoid Heat Styling

Whenever possible, let your hair air-dry and skip the straighteners and curling irons. If you absolutely can't live without them, make sure your hair is completely dry for styling and as air-dried as possible before you pick up a hairdryer.

Biosilk Silk Therapy.
Biosilk Silk Therapy.
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle Leave-In Conditioner
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle Leave-In Conditioner

After-Shower Products

There are two products I swear by:

Biosilk Silk Therapy. There's a reason this stuff is a cult favorite (when it first came out, there were stories of women literally fighting for it on the shelves--now, you can order it online.) It's magic in a bottle. If you're using it on dry hair, use the tiniest, tiniest drop, because it can make your hair look greasy if you over-use. It only takes the smallest bit, so one of the bottles will last you forever.

On days I'm too lazy to sit around with a head full of conditioner before I shower, I like to use maybe five drops of this instead of one and smear it all over, because who cares if your hair looks greasy when you're about to jump in the shower? It will sink into your hair and repair it; it's not just to make it look softer. Though it totally will.

Also, it's amazing for your skin, so you'll get soft hands just from using it.

Beauty Protecter Protect and Detangle Leave in Conditioner. I got a tiny bottle of this in my Birchbox and i will use it until it is bone-dry. The effects of this are mostly only going to last until your next shower, but until then, it's a miracle product. According to the bottle, it has all of the following effects:

  • Instant Detangler
  • Thermal Protector
  • UV Protector
  • Seals Cuticle
  • Smooths Hair
  • Locks in Color
  • Adds Shine
  • Weightless
  • Non-Greasy
  • Conditions

So really, it's not missing anything. And it smells amazing.

Don't Give Up

It takes time to get your hair back to a good place, so don't despair if it's been a week and you're still not seeing a lot of improvement. But if these techniques really aren't working for you in the long-term, look into natural solutions like coconut oil and olive oil, which a lot of people swear by.

What are your techniques for fixing damaged hair?


Other beauty hubs by me:

Top Seven e.l.f. Products

Three Worst e.l.f. Products

Top Five Kits from Benefit Cosmetics

Top Five Obsessive Compulsive Lip Tar Shades

Top Five Beauty Hubs

Hey, Lady--You Should be Shaving Your Face

HOW TO: Apply Makeup in 90 Seconds

More Tips for Fixing Damaged Hair

Help for Damaged Hair

Quiz Time! How much do you know about protecting your hair?

view quiz statistics

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