We all desire to possess robust and vigorous hair, but your strands undergo a great deal. There’s dehydrating, styling, coloring, straightening, plus the domino effect of excessive brushing and utilizing hair ties that are excessively tight. Fortunately, there are minor adjustments you can make to mend and fortify your hair so it’s less vulnerable to harm.
Straightforward things such as reducing the frequency of shampooing your hair, allowing your locks to naturally dry, and shielding your hair from the sun can all assist in averting hair damage. Additionally, to enhance the strength and well-being of your hair (and your physique), it is also crucial to nourish yourself with nutrient-rich food containing protein, vitamins, and minerals. Acquire more knowledge about the causes of hair damage and how to improve the appearance and texture of your hair.
The Science of Hair Damage
“Every individual’s strands are comprised of proteins [keratin], which consist of amino acids united by three categories of chains: disulfide, hydrogen, and ionic,” affirms Mark Curry, the head chemist at and co-founder of the beauty brand the Inkey List. These bonds differ in durability and subsequently, what can disrupt them.
Hydrogen bonds are accountable for the structure of our strands — curly, wavy, straight — and are the most fragile, notably since they can be manipulated during styling. Ionic bonds provide flexibility — they can be easily severed by pH fluctuations from shower water or a hair product with imbalanced pH (since pH is not indicated on labels, determining potential harm may be challenging). Disulfide bonds are the most resilient and can only be broken by chemicals, such as dyes.
When all of these bonds are intact, hair is resilient and lustrous. However, when aggressors — like bleach or heat — fracture these bonds, hair becomes fragile, adds Curry. Additionally, it acquires an unhealthy appearance. “It appears lackluster and exhibits ends that snap off or split,” explains Matt Rez, a renowned hair colorist and ambassador for Redken.
Types of Hair Damage & How to Remedy Them
How do you rectify damaged hair and broken bonds without relinquishing your highlights and daily use of a curling iron? Here, experts guide you through the inflicted damage and reveal how you can reclaim that healthy radiance.
When you modify your hair using chemicals, such as hair dye or bleach, or alter its texture through a perm solution or relaxer, there is a chemical transformation that occurs within the inner core of the strands, known as the cortex. If done excessively or intensely, this can result in substantial damage. The extreme approach to repairing damaged hair entails cutting off as much as possible and commencing anew.
Alternatively, a less drastic solution would be to “undergo protein treatments at a salon or utilize protein-based products at home,” suggests trichologist and colorist David Adams.
But it’s a procedure. Anticipate a year to acquire strong, supple, and lustrous hair again.” Attempt Redken Extreme Anti-snap Leave-In Treatment (Purchase It, $28, ulta.com), and once a week, contemplate applying a bond-building treatment, which contains components designed to reattach the atoms in the fractured chain. Opt for Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector (Purchase It, $30, ulta.com) to reconnect disulfide bonds.
A hair follicle typically has two or three hairs growing out of it. However, when product accumulates, follicles decrease in size, resulting in only one or two hairs. The main culprits: “Dry shampoo and root touch-up sprays,” states Adams. “These products sit on the scalp and can obstruct your hair follicles.” As for how to repair damaged hair caused by this issue, Adams suggests exfoliating the scalp and utilizing products containing zinc, which is a foundational component of hair.
You can also eliminate clogged follicles and stimulate hair growth by undergoing a professional treatment like the HydraFacial Keravive, which eliminates impurities and incorporates growth factors and protein into the scalp.
It is tempting to crank up your curling iron to 450 degrees in order to quickly achieve perfect waves. However, unless you have extremely coarse, thick hair, that temperature can damage the outer layer of your hair and lead to breakage. Therefore, reduce the temperature to 200 degrees and gradually increase if necessary. Additionally, look for a shampoo that is protein-based. “Hair consists of protein, so that is what it requires for repair,” states Adams.
A rejuvenating shampoo like Virtue Labs Recovery Shampoo (Purchase It, $40, sephora.com) is an excellent solution when it comes to repairing damaged hair. A weekly treatment that enhances bonds can also help restore heat-damaged hair. Give the Inkey List PCA Bond Repair Hair Treatment a try (Purchase It, $14, theinkeylist.com). It contains a compound that safeguards and reconnects all types of bonds.
When hair is wet, it absorbs water and becomes more elastic. “Healthy hair can stretch up to three times its original length and then regain its shape,” explains Adams. “However, unhealthy hair strands break when stretched with a towel, brush, or hair tie.”
The solution for repairing this type of damaged hair is to “treat your hair like delicate fabric,” advises colorist Colleen Flaherty. After washing, wrap your hair in an Aquis Flip Hair Drying Tool (Purchase It, $50, amazon.com), a gentle microfiber towel that rapidly removes moisture. Also, replace tight hair elastics with a silk scrunchie like those from Slip (Purchase It, $39 for 6, sephora.com).
Even if you don’t color or use hot tools on your hair, it’s still susceptible to a variety of environmental dangers. UVA and UVB rays from the sun can dehydrate your hair, which can result in split ends and fragility. Hard water can also cause harm – the minerals in the water can make it more challenging for your hair to absorb moisturizing shampoo and conditioning products.
And if you smoke, or are exposed to second-hand smoke, the DNA of your hair follicle may sustain damage. Pollution in general is a genuine hair stressor. If you’re in an area with particularly high pollution levels, particles can settle on your scalp and cause sensitivity, ultimately leading to hair damage.
Common Hair Concerns
Whether you’re noticing dryness, frizz, split ends, or breakage, or your hair is lackluster or becoming thin, it’s important to comprehend the underlying causes of these issues. This understanding will allow you to address them effectively. Here are some of the most prevalent hair concerns, along with their causes and treatments.
Since the oldest hair on your head is located at the ends, it’s logical that split ends would occur there. There are various factors that contribute to split ends – some are more apparent, such as chemical treatments and the use of hot styling tools, but even brushing your hair when it’s wet and wearing tight ponytails can lead to split ends. Unfortunately, once the ends are split, there is nothing you can do to repair them. The best course of action is to have a good trim, as untreated split ends will continue to split and result in breakage.
Dry hair is the outcome of numerous factors. Exposure to the sun, swimming, and chemical treatments are all culprits. Washing your hair too frequently or using harsh styling products can also cause dryness. Hot tools are likewise responsible for hair that feels dry.
One of the simplest preventive measures you can take to combat dry hair is to shampoo less often. If you’re washing your hair every day, you’re depriving it of essential natural oils. Reduce the frequency to every other day or even every third day, especially if your hair is particularly dry. However, don’t skimp on conditioner. Use conditioner each time you wash your hair (and even between washes). If you have low porosity hair, steam treatments can be beneficial as they encourage the hair shaft to open, allowing treatments to penetrate better. Whenever possible, try to minimize the use of hot tools and chemical treatments until your hair feels less dry.
“When your hair is damaged, the cuticle opens up and strands tend to get caught on each other, resulting in frizz and tangles,” says Peter Corvington, a hairstylist at Spoke & Weal in New York.
How to repair damaged hair in this manner?
Choose a styling item that will close the outer layer of the hair and safeguard it against additional attacks, such as Beachwaver Great Barrier Heat Protectant Hairspray (Buy It, $28 ulta.com). Moreover, refrain from touching your hair, as it can once again disturb the outer layer, advises Adams.
Fragility occurs when hair becomes delicate. Some of the same factors that cause other hair problems (excessive use of hot tools, too frequent washing, and coloring treatments) can also result in fragility. Another primary cause of hair fragility is brushing hair too vigorously or using a tight elastic when it is damp.
While you cannot repair fragility, you can attempt to prevent it. Avoid blow drying, excessive washing, and coloring your hair if possible. Ensure to exercise caution when your hair is wet. Dry your hair gently and use a detangling brush or a wide-toothed comb to eliminate any knots, and utilize a leave-in conditioner for additional moisture.
Imagine the outer layer of your hair (the cuticle) as scales on a fish. When these scales lie flat, they reflect light and give a shiny appearance. “If some of the cuticle’s scales are absent or not lying flat due to factors like drying, light cannot reflect evenly, resulting in dull-looking hair,” says Adams. Wondering how to repair damaged hair in this condition? Smooth the cuticle with a leave-in product like Aveda Nutriplenish Leave-In Conditioner (Buy It, $41, nordstrom.com). (Steal these professional tips to achieve that iconic “glass hair.”)
“When you are under stress, your eating habits may suffer and you may neglect exercise, and both of these deficiencies can lead to hair thinning,” says Adams. Due to the hair’s growth cycle, the loss may occur three months after a stressful event.
If you are wrapping a hair tie around your ponytail an additional time, “your initial step is to minimize stress as much as possible and prioritize rest and proper nutrition,” says dermatologist Arash Akhavan, M.D. “It may take three months before you observe any results.” Unfortunately, there is no fixed solution on how to repair damaged hair in this case — just continue with those steps. (That being said, you can try one of these shampoos for thinning hair.)
Comprehensive Approach to Hair Care
Alongside all the products available for treating your hair, the significance of a comprehensive approach to hair care cannot be overstated. One of the finest natural ways to assist your hair is by consuming a nutritious diet.
Choose foods that are abundant in slim protein, omega-3 unsaturated fat, iron, biotin, and vitamins A and C.
You can also decrease the frequency of shampooing your hair so that the natural oils on your scalp have an opportunity to moisturize the hair. Utilize pure coconut, olive, and jojoba oil to knead your scalp in order to release more of those nourishing natural oils. If you’re troubled by parched and fragile hair, create a nutritious DIY conditioning mask with ingredients from your kitchen. One of the finest actions you can take to prevent split ends and dry, brittle hair is to regularly trim your hair.