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How To Repair Hair
A Long History of Hair Damage
I am no stranger to mistreating my hair. I have been dying my hair for almost 15 years and it has taken me even longer just to figure out the mechanics of my hair in general. I grew up with light blonde, thick, wavy hair so naturally as soon as I discovered hair products I turned it dark, straight and thin. I know what you might be thinking? How do you thin out your hair? Well, I had a couple different experimental techniques that would create uneven layers in my hair. One of them being taking a razor and shaving off ends of my tresses. I've upgraded since those early days with another technique to layer my hair but that's not what this article is about. This article is about what to do when you've thrown caution to the wind and now regret not being more careful with that color you had to have flowing from your head.
Bottom line: It's gonna take work and it's gonna take time.
There's no real quick fix to damaged hair, the exception being lopping it all off. But if you're like me and you don't want to lose length then I suggest reading on.
Note: The following suggestions are based on things that I have done to my own hair and my own results. Everyone's hair is different and results may vary.
ION Intense Moisture Conditioner
In Recent Events
Actually, I recently have undergone some brand new hair damage. I decided to try out some of ION's semi-permanent colors and went with the lavender. It was BEAUTIFUL! Until it started fading. The unfortunate thing about this color fading is that it turns into a grayish-blue color. Blue is very difficult to get out of hair.
Most hair colors can be counteracted with it's opposite color, e.g. purple gets rid of yellow, orange gets rid of green, green gets rid of red, etc. There isn't a whole lot you can do with blue but to turn to bleach or tough it out. Well, I don't have the patience to tough it out.
The first time I bleached my hair with the faded lavender in it my hair turned completely blue. Horror and shock! What I did next, I don't necessarily suggest, but it helped me out for a little while. I mixed purple food coloring with some Tresemme conditioner, lathered my hair with the mixture and left it in for about an hour. After I washed it out most of my hair was back to gray and lavender with some strands still being slightly blue and pink. At least it wasn't all blue. I rocked unicorn hair for about 2 weeks.
After two weeks from the time I bleached it I decided to give it another go. I headed into Sally's Beauty, struck a little conversation with the ladies working there about my unicorn hair and waved a hand to their suggestions. "I already know what I want." And I did. I had been looking at it the whole two weeks of waiting. I filled up my basket with Salon Care Professional Quick White Super-Strength Powder Lightener, along with Salon Care's 30 volume creme developer. I threw in 3 Wella T18 toner bottles, a large bottle of ION's Intense Moisture Conditioner and grabbed a giant hair clip on my way to the register. I was on a mission.
Prices of Products I Used
Sally's Beauty Supply Price
Salon Care Quick White 16 Oz. Tub
ION Color Brilliance Brights: Lavender
5.99 (Buy 2 get 1 free)
ION Intense Moisture Conditioner 20 Oz.
Salon Care 30 Volume Creme Developer 32 Oz.
Wella Color Charm T18 Lightest Ash Blonde Toner
I got the color out.... for the most part BUT! I also severely damaged my hair. I knew it was coming, hence the big fancy bottle of conditioner that I bought. I had to cut off about 2 inches of my hair which severely bummed me out but worth it if it meant I could get a brush through my hair. There's something to be said when you can't even get a soft boar bristle brush through your hair.
Anywho! These are currently the steps I am taking to get my hair back into shape and also steps that you will hear most often from just about anyone who is coaching you to healthy hair.
Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser
Dr. Miracles Daily Moisturizing Gro Oil
First Thing's First!
You've just damaged your hair and now you're rethinking all of your life's decisions. It's gonna be alright! It's just hair. It grows back but you can definitely take steps to help it along.
If you have just finished washing out the color from your hair and ready to start the process I would suggest putting in a leave-in conditioner right away, making sure to saturate your ends well and possibly also your scalp. Your scalp has just undergone a massive chemical warfare and it needs a lot of TLC. After all, it is the thing that births your hair to begin with.
More often than not I use Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Strength Reconstructing Butter. Just a finger-full of it really helps out my hair type which is usually a desert as far as hair goes. The directions require you to leave it on for 3 to 5 minutes and to rinse but I never do that. It has become apart of who I am for the last couple years.
Another product I like to use every once in a while is Dr. Miracles Daily Moisturizing Gro Oil. I say "every once in a while" because I don't feel like it is an everyday necessity. It is an oil so therefore it will make your hair pretty oily, especially since it is a pretty light oil and it's easy to go overboard. But as far as healing the scalp after a bleach/dye job or after over-washing, it is top notch. It's probably best to use as a hot oil treatment or you can do what I do and massage it into your scalp before bed so that your pillow cases don't steal much needed moisture from your hair.
There is also the ever-famous coconut oil method. I love coconut oil. I use it for everything because of it's miracle qualities. The important thing to remember about coconut oil is that you should get virgin or extra virgin and organic. A refined coconut oil wont offer up the same benefits as an unrefined coconut oil. It is especially good for your skin and will help trigger hair follicles to grow. One of the best things about coconut oil is that it doesn't clog pores. I use it is a face moisturizer every day after I shower and doesn't make me break out at all. Also remember, just like Dr. Miracle's Daily Moisturizing Gro Oil, it is, in fact, an oil and it is easy to go overboard. In my opinion, I wouldn't suggest putting coconut oil on the ends of your hair because it solidifies and it may make your hair feel gunky. Stick to massaging it into your scalp because your body heat will keep the oil liquid.
DON'T USE A TOWEL ON YOUR HAIR! Don't do it! Put the towel down! Unless you have one of those fancy microfiber towels... then... I guess... whatever! Don't use a towel. The reason is, fabrics dry out. They steal your precious oils that you desperately need and like to tangle your locks. They know you're not supposed to brush your hair while it's wet and they've decided to conspire against you. So what do you use? A t-shirt, of course! It will prevent your hair from getting damaged or tangled while you sop up the excess, cold water dripping down your back. AND FOR GOODNESS SAKE DON'T BLOW DRY YOUR HAIR! We're not trying to kick our hair while it's already down. Air drying is the best method even though there are picky rules to that as well... which I will cover in a bit. Just put yourself in nature's shoes for a minute and begin to understand that what nature intended is usually the best way. But like I said... there are some picky rules about this as well.
When air drying your hair, do not go to sleep with wet hair. Tossing and turning at night with wet hair can cause breakage and tangling just to name a couple hairstyle mishaps.
When air drying your hair, do not go outside. That's right. Sometimes when nature know's best it also likes to teach you some lessons. Whether or not your hair is wet or dry, elements of the outside world can harsh your hair's vibe. Sun, wind, dust, heat, cold, volcanic eruptions... all of these things you brave every day damage your hair and unfortunately, your hair can be left even more vulnerable while it is wet. So learn from Howard Hughes a little and just stay inside until your hair can handle the mean outdoors.
When air drying your hair, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, do not brush it. Any hair stylist worth their salt will tell you this. What a lot of them wont tell you is that it's pretty acceptable to use a wide tooth comb while you're in the shower. I use a Conair wide tooth, shower comb while rinsing out the conditioner from my hair. You'll hardly even notice the comb's teeth going through your strands as you gracefully sweep your hair into a magical waterfall of goodness and light. That's how lovely it is. Unless you happen to have tangles then it is anything but grace and goodness. But the conditioner and wide tooth comb will help easily relieve your hair from it's tangled shackles.
When air drying your hair, do not ring it out. Your hair has weakened elasticity while it is wet so when you're yanking and pulling, twisting and twirling you're doing quite a bit of damage to your hair. So don't do it!
Braids! I shower at night. I'm no good at showering in the morning. I just stand under the water, half-awake and figure the water has cleaned me enough to start the day. I'm much more awake and concerned for my hygiene in the evening. Besides, I'd rather sleep in my bed clean. Anywho! If you're like me where sleeping with wet hair is inevitable I suggest sporting some loose braids. Well.. one braid. Don't go crazy having hundreds of tiny breads hanging from your noggin. This will reduce the risk of tangles, hold in most of your hair's moisture and give you a nice crimpy look the next day. I actually asked my boyfriend the other night, who has never braided anything in his life, if he could braid my hair since I have a hard time doing a back braid by myself. It took a few tries but he finally got it looking less awful than it did the first time. I went to the bathroom and redid it so I wouldn't hurt his feelings.
Now For The Other Stuff
Now we have done all we can do after the messy fact, we play the waiting game... but we can make the waiting game a lot less shorter by doing some or all of the following things. Keep in mind that some of these are based on popularity over the internet. Some may have not been suggested by licensed professionals but have all been tried by myself with varied results for each item. Results may vary from person to person as we are all different and our bodies respond differently to certain techniques.
1. Castor Oil
Castor oil is oil that comes from the castor bean. Who would have guessed? It has been said all around that you can use it for hair growth. Some women swear by it as they apply it to their eye lashes and, more recently, their eye brows to thicken and lengthen. The same can be said for the hair on your head as well. It is suggested that you dilute the castor oil with another oil such as coconut oil, jojoba oil or olive oil if you want to go the more natural route. Use it as a hot oil treatment on damp hair, gently massaging it into your scalp for 3 to 5 minutes and then saturating the rest of your hair with the oil mix. Wait 30 minutes to 3 hours before washing it out of your hair.
2. Vitamins & Supplements
There are plenty of options out there as far as hair, skin and nails are concerned. Most people will tell you to take prenatal vitamins to help grow out your hair and nails though there isn't much evidence to suggest that they actually do the job faster than nature. As far as vitamins are concerned you're gonna want to up your intake of Vitamin D, B-Complex vitamins (Biotin, niacin and cobalamin are among the most popular B-complex vitamins that help restore shine and thickness to strands.), Iron and Zinc. I have also purchased collagen pills which are used to revitalize skin, fight the effects of aging, support tendons and ligaments, replenish collagen in your skin, hair, nails and overall body and also boosts your protein intake. Protein is an especially important thing to focus on. Think of it this way; a lack of protein in your system increases hair loss so the opposite can be said about having an abundance of protein.
I struggle with my water intake all the time. I try to drink my 8 glasses of water every day but fall short more often than not. However, drinking water is crucial, not only for your hair but for your overall health. If you imagine your body as a car you know that you need fuel and oil. Fuel is the food you eat to give you your "get-up-and-go" while the oil that lubricates our gears to keep us running smoothly is the water we drink. All in all we are just biological machines that need everyday maintenance.
If you get bored with water like I do you can try adding lemon juice or maybe even get sparkling water. I love sparkling water because it's like soda without the guilt.
Gently massaging your scalp helps wake up your hair follicles. Be careful not to scratch or rub too hard or it will just irritate your hair follicles. Place your fingertips on your scalp and begin to massage in small circles. The pads of your fingertips massage and stimulate blood flow to your scalp. Some methods suggest flipping your head upside down while massaging to further stimulate blood flow to the scalp. This is not a proven method, so try it with caution, especially if you have health conditions such as pregnancy or frequent dizziness.
Soft Boar Bristle Brush
5. Boar Bristle Brush
Try saying that 5 times fast! Purchase a boar bristle brush with natural bristles. In order to best stimulate your hair follicles and encourage your scalp to produce its own natural oils, a boar bristle brush with natural bristles is most recommended. This is also what I use to brush my hair. I have a soft bristle brush for when I leave my hair wavy so that it gently brushes out stray hairs and keeps me from looking like an unkempt ragamuffin. I ended up purchasing a coarser boar bristle brush for when I have straightened my hair and I need to get tangles out.
Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
6. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
I do this at least once a month. With lots of hair care comes a much needed rinse. After all of the dying and the bleaching, the oils and hair products, stuff tends to build up in your hair and on your scalp which can have some negative effects on your hair health and growth. For this I suggest an apple cider vinegar rinse. What I do for this is use an old Tresemme conditioner bottle and fill it 90% of the way with very warm water. I fill the other 10% of the bottle with Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and gently shake it to mix. After shampooing my hair in the shower I then start pouring the rinse mixture on to my scalp, starting from my forehead and helping it with my other hand to cover my strands as it flows down my hair. Your hair will feel softer as you are doing this.
Apple cider vinegar is often used as a hair conditioner substitute by those who like to go a more natural route. It creates shine in your hair and reduces tangles while also breaking down any product build up you have in your hair.
7. Avoid Washing Your Hair Often
It's best to not wash your hair every day because it can strip the natural oils from your scalp and lead to brittle hair. Even more so if your hair is naturally curly or wavy. The natural oils from your head travel down the lengths of your hair strands to naturally condition it and those who are sporting curly to wavy locks have a hard enough time getting those oils to travel down. Their paths have a lot of resistance, if you know what I mean. This is something I actually just learned within the last couple of years and why I now feel like I have mastered my hair once and for all. The key is moisture, people. For anyone. Some people are predisposed to secreting more oil than others and probably don't have as much of an issue as people like me whose bodies don't seem to know how to produce oil.
I wash my hair about 2 times a week unless I have put too much hair care oil in. In that instance I do a rinse rather than a wash.
8. Wash Your Hair Correctly
What? There's a wrong way? Yeah... there is and it's a common mistake. We're under the impression that we need to completely lather up anything and everything on our head with shampoo in order to get our hair clean. This is a fatal flaw to your tresses. We know shampoo dries out which is why they invented hair conditioner (and thank god they did!). Truth be told you are only supposed to be lathering up your scalp and gently massage the soap along your roots. You're getting excess oils, sweat, dirt, etc off of your skin and as you rinse the soap out it catches anything else that shouldn't be there within the strands. Don't apply soap directly to the length of your hair and especially don't scrub it, bunch it, twist it or anything that may seem abusive to your fragile strands.
Tea Tree Oil
9. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil helps to unclog hair follicles and nourish your roots. To use tea tree oil as a hair growth treatment, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with any carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, almond). Mix it well and massage the mixture onto the scalp. Rinse thoroughly.
It can also be used to banish blemishes and get rid of fungal infections. It's a very strong smelling oil which I don't mind at all because it reminds me a lot of eucalyptus but it can be a bit much for some people.
10. Change Your Shampoo
As mentioned above, I bought the ION Intense Moisture Conditioner which is sulfate, gluten, paraben, alcohol, phthalates, and soy free. You'll find that a lot of body care products contain alcohol which is counter productive as far as moisturizers go. But most, if not all, are used as preservatives and can be damaging to hair and skin on their own. My suggestion is to switch your conditioner to the ION brand or something similar to it.
As far as shampoo goes I have switched from Tresemme to Mane n' Tail Deep Moisturizing shampoo which can be found at any drugstore. The benefits of this shampoo include:
- Exclusive micro-enriched formula with deep hydrating botanicals
- Gently cleanses and conditions the hair and scalp with no residue buildup
- Repairs the damaging effects of styling and the environment
- Naturally replenishes and locks in moisture
- Fortifies the hair with Vitamin E and Pro- Vitamin B5
This is the first time I have used the Deep Moisturizing version of this product and I can't say that I have gathered enough evidence to accurately critique it, but using the original formula of Mane n' Tale should suffice as far as hair repair goes. It's fairly inexpensive and easy to find so make the switch. Your hair will thank you!
Have any of these suggestions been useful to you? Let me know!
To Sum Up!
Hair is high maintenance! We love and hate having it at the same time. We wish we didn't care so much about how grand and glorious it looks to have it blow in the wind and catch the eye of attractive people who will either love or envy us... and if anything use it to keep our shoulders warm when we forget a sweater. It's all really simple when summed up:
- Oil is friend.
- Drinking water is friend.
- Bathing water is enemy.
- Vitamins are good.
- Wet hair is evil.
- Nature wont bend the rules too often.
You already know going in that when you are doing crazy things to your hair that this time may be the time your hair will finally fall out, or at the very least you're gonna have a bad hair day for a month or so but if you lay off the chemicals for a while and treat your hair like a best friend it will all turn out great in the end... that is until you decide to try out that color you've been eyeing behind your hair's back.
I will just end on this note: Don't reach for the scissors just yet, try out any one of my suggestions for a week first and find out if you can see any kind of improvement. And don't be like this girl in the video.