Our guide on how to repair damaged hair is based on over 35 years of salon experience. We share salon know-how on the causes of dry damaged hair, how you can tell if your hair is damaged and give our professional advice on how to fix damaged hair.
What are the causes of damaged hair?
A helpful starting point in understanding how to repair damaged hair is to look at the structure of the hair. Each strand of hair is made up of layers. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll focus on the outer layer, the cuticle and the cortex the inner layer.
The cuticle is the outer layer of the hair. It’s made up of protective scales that are wrapped around the inner layers of the hair. The job of the cuticle is to protect the cortex, the inner layer. When the cuticle becomes damaged, the scales lift. When the scales of the cuticle lift the cortex loses moisture. The lifted cuticle has a rough texture and losing moisture, the cortex becomes dehydrated. This is in essence what we call dry, damaged hair.
There are many factors that cause hair to become damaged and here, in no particular order, are the main culprits.
- Environmental damage to the hair – whatever the weather, it will have an impact on your hair. Much as we love a sunny day, it’s damaging for the hair as heat causes the cuticle to lift. Think about it. We slap on the SPF to protect our skin but our hair often gets forgotten. A windy day can have equally damaging effects. The wind blows the hair around, roughing up the cuticle and causing tangles.
- Heated Styling – as we’ve just said heat causes the cuticle to lift so it makes sense that heated styling has a damaging effect. Don’t panic, we’re not going to ask you to put your hairdryer in the bin. It’s simply a question of taking some sensible precautions. More of which below!
- Over-processing the hair – in order for hair to absorb colour, colour treatments are designed to open the cuticle. Opening the cuticle is hair damage. Layering colour on top of colour will simply damage the hair more.
- Over-brushing hair – It’s possible to over brush the hair. Too much brushing, not being gentle, tugging hair at the roots and brushing hair when it’s wet can all lift the cuticle and damage the hair.
- Split ends – when hair loses hydration, the ends bear the brunt of the damage. Why? Because our scalp produces sebum, a natural oil. Sebum has a purpose. To keep hair hydrated. But the hair at the ends is older and more prone to dryness and damage, resulting in split ends.
How can you tell if the hair is damaged?
So once you know the causes you might be wondering how you can tell if your hair is damaged. Take a look at our list of sure-fire signs that hair is damaged.
- Hair has lost its shine. Hair shines when the cuticle is laying flat and reflecting light. If the cuticle is lifted, the hair will look dull.
- The lifted cuticle gives the hair a rough, dry texture.
- Hair is difficult to style. No matter what you do you just can’t get the hair to sit properly.
- Damaged hair is brittle and breaks easily.
- It looks lifeless and flat. No matter how you try you can’t get body in your hair.
- Try doing the stretch test. If the hair has lost elasticity, it’s damaged. Take a look at our blog Hair Elasticity: Do the Stretch Test to find out how you can test the elasticity of your hair.
How to repair damaged hair…
Once you’ve established if your hair is damaged, its time to take some action. We’d like to reassure you at this point that there is a lot you can do to get your hair looking and feeling great. But (yes there’s always a but!) it’s going to take time and a little patience. There are no quick fixes here.
When we talk about how to repair damaged hair, what do we really mean? Well, this brings us right back to the cortex and the cuticle. The aim is to rehydrate the cortex and smooth the cuticle so that it sits flat. With the cortex and cuticle hydrated, the hair will feel more silky, less brittle and it will regain its shine.
Getting the hair rehydrated is very simple but it can’t be done in one hit. It’s important to understand that getting hair hydrated is a temporary fix. In order to stay hydrated hair needs a regular routine of cleansing and conditioning. It’s the same approach that you take to your skin. Regular cleansing and moisturising with a good quality hydrating shampoo and conditioner will help to build moisture and put you on the path to fixing damaged hair.
Use a natural hair mask for damaged hair once a week every week. An intensive treatment on a weekly basis will help inject extra moisture into badly damaged hair. If the hair is very badly damaged we recommend treating the hair with a deep conditioning hair mask twice in the first two weeks and then once a week after that. You can find out more about deep conditioning hair treatments in our blog Salon Know How: Why use a Deep Conditioning Hair Mask.
Once you’ve got your routine of regular conditioning, what’s next?
Well, there’s plenty you can do to prevent damage. Follow our damage limitation tips get your hair back in shape.
- Be gentle when brushing. Start at the ends and work up. As you brush or comb the ends, gently hold the mid-lengths to avoid pulling at the roots.
- Wash hair in warm water. Avoid hot temperatures. They exacerbate dryness and damage.
- After washing, gently pat hair dry. Rubbing hair causes breakage and increases tangles. Try using a microfibre towel.
- Use a wide tooth comb when hair is wet. Start from the ends and work your way up, being careful not to put tension on the roots.
- Let your hair down. A ponytail is a great way of styling hair but wearing it too tight, can put tension on the roots. Find a style that’s easy to wear down and suits your lifestyle.
- Turn the heat down. Hairdryers, straighteners and curling irons are high up on the list of culprits. Choose cooler settings for less damage.
- Reduce drying time. Most of us over-dry our hair. Reduce drying time by just 1 minute to limit the damage.
- Heat protection. Use a good quality styling product with heat protection with heated styling tools.
- Give your hair a break. Air dry hair once a week.
- Get your hat on! Are you heading to sunnier climes? Wear a fabulous sun hat to protect your hair from the midday sun.
- Wear a swimming cap to protect hair from chlorine damage. If you want to multi-task, apply a hair mask, pop on your swimming cap.
- Avoid over-processing the hair. If hair is colour-treated, get some advice from your hairdresser about the best options for you.
- Get regular trims. Ends of the hair are prone to breakage. Split ends, left untreated, can ride up the hair and cause breakage.
Have you got a question?
We’ve had a lot of questions lately about how to repair damaged hair so it’s great to be able to share our experience. We thought it might be helpful to share some of those questions below. If you’ve got a specific question about your hair, please get in touch at email@example.com
Can you repair damaged hair fast?
No. It’s not a quick fix. You need to build moisture into the hair over time. Regular shampooing and conditioning supported by a weekly hair mask for damaged, dry hair is the most effective way of tackling the damage. Hair needs regular moisture to smooth and strengthen the cuticle. If you take good care of your skin, apply the same principles to your hair and you’ll find the condition improves over time. You can also follow some of our damage limitation tips to prevent further damage.
Can you repair damaged hair at home?
Yes, you can repair damaged hair at home. Build an intensive weekly hair treatment into your routine and follow our tips to prevent further damage. Giving your hair a weekly deep treatment can be a real treat for you and your hair. Why not make an event of it? Relax in a lovely bath and take some time out for yourself. We fragrance our Restore and Shine Hair Masque with uplifting essential oils. Think of it as a home spa. Time for you.
How do you fix over-processed hair?
If the hair is over-processed, the first thing to say is that having another colour will not fix it. Its time to step back and make a plan. We recommend booking a consultation with your hairdresser and discussing the best options for you. If the hair is very badly damaged you might want to consider a shorter haircut. This will help the look of the hair as you take the time to build moisture. If you don’t want to go for a shorter cut, you will need to get regular trims to reduce further damage from split ends. Invest in a good quality deep conditioning hair mask. Treat your hair every week and avoid any further processing until your hairdresser is happy that the hair is strong enough to take another colour. Always consult a professional.
What is the best hair product for damaged hair?
We are very proud to recommend our Restore and Shine Hair Masque. We spent over 4 years developing it in our salon. We’ve tried it on many different hair types and as a product for bringing hair back to life, we haven’t found anything better. It contains pro-vitamin b5 which gets moisture deep into the core of the hair. Plus it contains lots of soothing emollients such as avocado oil to smooth the cuticle and restore shine. It’s our go-to product for damaged hair.
How do you fix brittle hair?
When hair loses moisture it becomes brittle. Hair should feel stretchy and elastic. If it becomes too brittle it can start to break. Reducing the amount of heat that you apply to hair is essential. If you can’t give up heated styling tools completely, make sure you use heat protection and turn the hairdryer to a cooler setting. It’s best to avoid flat irons and curly irons. Get into the habit of applying a deep conditioning treatment every week and visit your stylist for regular trims. It’s essential to keep split ends in check so that they don’t create further damage. If you can leave the hair to air-dry at least once a week, its a good way of giving your hair some time off to recover.
Ogario London is a salon developed, natural hair care range. As a niche brand, we are passionate about our products and delivering the best results is at the heart of what we do. If you have any questions about our products, would like advice on the best products for your hair type, or have another question about how to moisturise dry hair, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org