Your hair is dry, life-less, limp and just plain, sad. You feel sad, it feels sad, nobody is a winner here. Years of highlights, lowlights, or covering grays, and weekly blow-outs and hot styling tools are sabotaging you from achieving the lustrous head of hair you deserve. (And if you’re using box hair dye, you might as well just light your hair on fire now. More on this later.) While damaged hair cannot be completely cured there are ways to boost moisture levels in damaged hair and protect strands from further damage. Read on for how to repair damaged hair weakened from coloring and styling.
What happens when you color your hair
Imagine your hair strand is a room. A chemical called a ‘developer’ is used to open the door to said room. Color is deposited in the room and then the door is closed with a neutralizing shampoo and conditioner locking in the color molecules.
If you’re going lighter, sometimes bleach is used first to remove some of the color naturally in the room before new color is deposited.
Why you should never use box hair dye
The color of your hair and the color you are dying your hair determines how strong of a developer you need to open the “room” door. If you have light brown hair and are dying your hair dark brown, you may only need a 10 developer strength.
When you go to a salon to get your hair colored all of these chemical measurements are mixed based on your specific hair needs.
Boxed hair dye on the other hand uses a very strong 40 developer across the board because it wants to make sure it will work no matter who is using it and what their hair color is. Fine if you need a developer that strong, but if you don’t, well, let’s just say it’s like using a sledge hammer to hammer in a nail.
Once you open the hair shaft the color gets deposited and if you’re at a salon, they’ll use a neutralizing shampoo and conditioner to close the hair shaft door sealing in the colore. But at home, chances are you aren’t sealing in your color with a neutralizing wash. This means the room “door” is left open and the deposited color will quickly fade.
So your hair fades and what do you do? Yup, you grab another box of hair dye. Are you applying it just at the roots? Probably, not. Most likely you’re applying it from root to end as the box instructs. This means that 40 developer strength is being applied to your hair over, and over, and over again leading to serious damage.
How to repair damaged hair
The key to repair is to:
Firstly, have your hair professionally colored, or if you can’t invest in good hair color, then make sure to invest in good products to maintain the integrity of hair.
And secondly, use an extremely moisturizing conditioner or mask for color treated hair and alternate every other weak with a protein shampoo/conditioner. (Alternating between both ensures hair isn’t weighted down by too much protein, which can create a heavy coat around the shaft and cause breakage, or build up a dependency on the moisture products.)
BEST PRODUCTS FOR CHEMICALLY TREATED HAIR
2. Vernon Francois Re-Vamp Shampoo & Conditioner, $30 & $33
4. Kiehl’s Amino Acid Shampoo, $19
How to maintain hair color
In addition to traditional shampoos and conditioners that support the moisture needs of colored hair, there are also products that deposit color pigments into the shaft with each wash to prevent fading, brassy-ness or orange tones from developing. Purple shampoos for blondes or red shampoo for red heads exist to tame color fading. Read more about them here and which ones we recommend.
What happens when you heat style your hair
When you use a blow dryer for that perfect blow out or a curling iron for sexy waves, what’s happening is the heat breaks down your hair’s hydrogen bonds, stripping it of oils and proteins. Over time this causes damage impairing the hair’s ability to hold onto moisture.
Tip: Most flat irons can go up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. But keep in mind hair burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s always best to use your styling tools on a medium setting.
How to protect heat styled hair
When it comes to hair that has been damaged from heat styling – protection and moisture are key!
Healthy hair can hold moisture in it for up to forty hours, but factors such as environment (wind, heat, sun), pollution and the health of the hair impact it’s ability to maintain moisture.
If your hair is damaged, chances are it’s only holding onto moisture for up to twelves hours after using a moisture depositing conditioner or treatment, which is why you’ll want to use a hydrating product to deposit moisture back in in-between shampoos. In addition to using a hydrating shampoo and conditioner.
While it’s best to scale back on how often you use heat styling tools if your hair is really damaged, if you can’t put down the flat iron, make sure to use a heat protectant. Heat protectants coat the hair, typically with oils, to prevent burning and further damage.
BEST PRODUCTS FOR DAMAGED HAIR
Written by Amy Chang; Photographed by Wing Ta