Caring for Damaged Hair

Damaged and broken hair occurs when already dry hair isn’t treated effectively, or when heated appliances, colourants and chemicals have gradually taken their toll on the hair shaft. Hair breakage can make your hair look very unhealthy, coarse, dry and lifeless, making you feel pretty rubbish about the look and feel of your hair.

Short of cutting all of the damage out, there is not much you can do about broken hair once it has already happened. There are, however, numerous ways that you can improve its appearance and prevent more damage from occurring.

Changing your shampoo is a valuable first step. If after shampooing your hair feels dry, stiff and completely sapped of moisture until you add your conditioner, then chances are it’s too harsh for your hair. Try a gentler formulation, or one that is packed with moisturising essential oils and nutrients. Massage the product into the scalp only, as working it into already dry ends will dry them out further. Don’t worry that this will not properly clean hair; when the shampoo is rinsed out through the hair, the suds will gently cleanse the length of the hair en route.

Next, try a reconstructing conditioner that will be both incredibly moisturising and will help to strengthen damaged hair from within. Formulations with added proteins such as keratin are a good place to start, as these will replace lipids that are vital to healthy hair.

A deep conditioning treatment is also advisable, though should only be used about once a week as damaged hair can be easily overloaded. Smooth your chosen treatment onto towel dried hair and wrap cling film around your head to keep the heat close to your scalp. This will make the hair more receptive when absorbing the product. Leave on for about 15-20 minutes and then rinse clean.

Here are some handy tips to remember to prevent damage when styling your hair:

– Wait until your hair is about 80% dry until you start to use a hairdryer. Hair has a more improved tensile strength when it it dry and is less prone to breakage. When blow drying hair, use the lowest heat and make sure hair is properly protected from damage with thermal products. These can range from heat sprays to serums, and are sometimes built into the actual makeup of your shampoo and conditioner. When using any kind of heated appliance, thermal protection is always needed. Straighteners, curlers and hair dryers can fry the hair and sap it of its moisture. Thermal protection shields the hair shaft from the bulk of this heat, and many formulations are very moisturising.

– Most semi-permanent hair colourants now have little to no ammonia. Consider switching, as these are less harsh than traditional permanent hair dyes, and will invoke less follicle trauma.

When detangling wet hair, don’t use a brush or a comb. Hair is more prone to knotting when wet, and densely packed bristles will only pull at the snags and increase breakage. Use your fingers or a wide toothed comb to separate the strands.