7 Tips to repair damaged hair

by Ama Amo-Agyei

A lot of people don't take care of their hair very well. We have become accustomed to colouring it all the time, styling it with hot straighteners or curling irons every week. Many of the products we use for washing and styling also contain harsh chemicals. If you're experiencing dryness, frizz, split ends, breakage or a lack of shine in your hair, then your might be damaged. Luckily,  there are some natural steps you can take to help repair the damage to your locks! This blog post will focus on tips for repairing damaged hair naturally, so they can become healthy again.

Common causes of damaged hair:

Over-dying

Whatever colour you want to dye your hair, remember that doing it too often can result in a lot of damage.

To achieve an even colour, most dyes bleach the hair first. Ammonia opens the hair cuticles, which ruins the moisture retention properties of the hair. Hydrogen peroxide, another commonly used oxidising agent, penetrates the hair shaft and strips it of its natural pigment. When your natural hair colour has been removed, the colouring agents start to work and dye your hair.

Commercially available dyes don't simply colour your hair. The dye penetrates the shaft of the hair and strips the protective lipid membrane from the hairs surface. This leads to a lack of shine as the smooth, natural surface is damaged and becomes rough to the touch.

Damage from hair dye extends beyond your locks. The chemicals used also penetrate the skin and can cause dryness of the scalp, itching, inflammation or even an allergic reaction.

If you have to colour your hair, use a natural product like henna if possible. If that isn't practical for you, try to choose a colour close to your hair's natural colour. 

Heated styling tools

Heated styling tools like hairdryers, curling wands, and straighteners can severely dry out your hair, especially if you have dyed it. This damage to your hair can cause frizz and split ends. If you really must use them, always use heat protectants to minimise any thermal damage.

Any kind of heat treatments are damaging to the hair’s natural moisture content. Heat styling will absorb the hair’s moisture, which is essential for its health and beauty.

If you think that styling your hair wet will protect it from damage, you need to think again. If the hair is wet when it is styled with hot tools, it can boil the moisture content within the hair causing permanent damage.

Research has shown that some hair tools, when set to their maximum heat, can not only damage your hair but may also damage the skin on your scalp.

Using hair straightening at high temperatures and using chemicals to aid the straightening process causes scarring of the follicles and can lead to permanent hair loss. This will not happen instantly, but repeatedly using the same damaging techniques can cause scarring so severe that the damage can be permanent.

Heat treatments do not just affect the hair’s inner health but also the way it looks. One study showed that hair exposed to high temperatures caused damage to the colour producing cells in the hair strands, causing a reduction of shine and lustre.

The best thing you can do is choose any tools you do use with care. Look for ones with good reviews and variable heat controls. Never set them to the maximum heat setting, and always use protectable heat spray.

Not getting a regular trim

Everything needs looking after, and your hair is no different. When your hair starts to grow, it's coated with the body's own protective oils, and if healthy, the outer cuticle and general structure do an excellent job of keeping the moisture in.

However, as it grows longer, it will dry out towards the ends. If these dry ends aren't trimmed, they quickly split. Once the hair follicle has separated, it can continue to accelerate, meaning a small split end becomes a large one very quickly.

A trip to the hairdressers for a regular trim keeps these split ends to a minimum. The longer you leave it, the more will need trimming off. As a general rule, you should go to your hairdresser for a quick trim about once every six to 8 weeks for straight/wavy hair types and for more curly & coily hair types every 4-6 months is a good timeframe. This will make sure if there are any split ends that they don't start getting worse.

7 Tips to repair damaged hair

Cut down on the use of heated styling tools

Hairdryers, curling wands, and straighteners are all useful tools that can transform your hair. However, using them incorrectly or too often can damage your hair, causing brittle hair, split ends, and dryness.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is setting the temperature far too high on their heated styling tools. The truth is, you don't need to use a high-temperature setting to get an impactful look. You'll have no problem getting the same effect with a mid-range temperature setting on your styling tools. The lower the temperature used, the less damage is caused to your hair. It is that simple.

Try to limit how often you use your heated styling tools too. Using them once or twice a week is much better than using them every day.

Tip: To prevent thermal damage to your hair, always use a heat protector spray before using any kind of heated styling tool.

Be gentle with your locks

Your hair is very delicate and a single aggressive combing session can do severe damage to it.

Your hair is at its most vulnerable when it's wet, so it's important to be gentle with your locks when they're in this state. Avoid brushing or combing your hair when it's wet unless you have the correct brush.

Be gentle when you are combing, brushing or styling your hair. Be sure not to tug on the strands too hard. Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle any knots.

Use hair masks regularly 

Hair masks can do wonders for your hair. They contain vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients that help keep your hair healthy and moisturised.

One natural hair mask is Aloe Vera gel. It has some fantastic properties and you can read more about it here.

These hair masks are often thicker than regular conditions, so they are great for people with dry, brittle or damaged hair. It's important to find the right hair mask for your hair type.

Using hair masks regularly is a great way to repair your locks and keep them looking their best. If your hair is already damaged, try doing it once a week to start with for the healthiest-looking, most manageable tresses possible. As your hair recovers, you should only need to use it once every month or so.

Embrace leave-in treatments

Leave-in treatments are also a great way to help protect your hair from further damage. They are light and generally don't leave a heavy residue.

These leave-in treatments typically contain ingredients such as coconut oil, grapeseed oil or argan oil to give your hair that extra oomph it needs for the day ahead. They help keep the cuticle layer healthy and some of them have UV protection too, which is perfect if your hair is already heat damaged.

A great way to remember not to skip out on these is by applying them on damp hair right after showering. The water helps the treatment penetrate the hair strands. Plus you can start repairing it immediately instead of waiting until later. Things can get worse if they are left unattended all day long.

Try using natural oils

Natural hair oils and some essential oils can give you amazing results when it comes to hair care. The benefits depend on the particular oil used, but they all can improve the shine by smoothing the hairs surface and improve overall hair health by cleansing and nourishing both the hair and scalp.

Coconut oil helps to reinforce the hairs natural moisture retention barrier to keep it healthy along the whole length of each hair strand. Hemp oil can help with dry, itchy scalp conditions and many essential oils from cedarwood to bergamot oil can have amazing effects.

Trim your ends often

Have you ever noticed how the ends of your hair get damaged first? This is because they're the oldest part of the strands. This means they aren't as well protected by your hairs natural oils.

Damaged, split ends spread up the strand and can lead to further breakage, so it's important to trim them often. If you don't, your hair can be left dull and frizzy.

It can be hard to judge how much hair you need to trim, but in general, a few is usually enough to help your hair look healthy again.

To prevent split ends appearing in the first place, it's best to use natural oils and leave-in conditioners.

Use a sulfate-free shampoo

Most people don't realise the shampoo they're using could be causing damage to their hair. Certain ingredients found in most shampoos can cause hair to become dry and brittle.

A sulfate-free shampoo is an excellent idea as these products are gentler on the hair, preventing damage from occurring.

Remember, don't wash your hair every single day. Unless you work in a very dusty or dirty environment, it isn't necessary. If you do work in a dusty environment or just don't feel right without washing your hair, just use water. Washing your hair without using any shampoo can work well between washes.

You can try to reduce the amount of shampoo you use each time you wash. Use just enough to wash it, any more and you are wasting it and causing more damage than you need to. This has added benefits too. Using less shampoo will save you money and save the planet! A real win-win situation.

FAQs

Does damaged hair grow back healthy?

If damaged hair is treated correctly, it can grow back healthier than it was.

In general, the hair will grow back to a natural state if the scalp is in good condition and the hair follicles are receiving all the nutrients they need to make healthy hair. A healthy diet and plenty of hydration can make a huge difference.

Creating a good natural hair care routine for yourself is the first step on the way to re-gaining fabulous healthy hair.

What should I do if my hair feels brittle?

If you're experiencing brittle feeling locks, then fight fraying hairs and dryness by using a deep conditioner or conditioning mask.

A sulfate-free shampoo is also helpful because it will reduce the damage caused by the harsh chemicals in many shampoos.

An apple cider vinegar rinse can help clean the hair. It will remove the build-up of any products you use and leave your hair feeling fresh and clean. This is particularly useful if your hair is feeling tight or heavy with an oily residue.

Sources 

Allure - Types of Damaged Hair 

Mind Body Green - How To Treat Damaged Hair

Teen Vogue - Why are Sulphates bad for you