Damaging our hair, after working so hard to nurture and grow it is a fear every woman’s lives with every day. Unfortunately, damage cannot be fully avoided as in general hair is prone to several types of damage that can happen even as we go about our daily activities.
Please note that very damaged hair cannot be repaired. The best approach is to prevent unnecessary damage in the first place. With everyday wear and tear, the goal is to minimize damage. However, when it does happen that you have damaged hair, because well, life happens, try to make sure you don’t make it worse.
It is important to understand the different types of damage that hair is most prone to. This way we know just what to do to prevent it and what to do to stop it from getting worse and repair the hair that it is already damaged.
1. Heat Damaged Hair
Heat damage occurs when you apply excessive direct heat to your hair. Styling tools such as flat irons, curling wands and blow-dryers can cause this type of damage to your hair.
Signs Your Hair is Heat Damaged
- The hair feels dry and brittle. Even after moisturizing the hair does not feel moisturized. This is because the heat has damaged the cuticle layer in your hair making it hard for the strands to hold on to moisture.
- Your hair hangs limp when it is wet. This is the most outright indicator that your hair is damaged.
- Your hair looks dull and frizzy. If you notice your hair looks dull and lifeless, it is time to cut back on the heat because it does affect the shine and lustre of your hair.
- You have more split ends. Heat styling hair causes split ends because heat dries your hair out causing split ends which can travel up the hair shaft and cause even more damage.
How to Repair Heat Damaged Hair
The damaged hair has to go. You don’t gain anything by holding on to damaged hair. You can either choose to transition (gradually cutting off the damaged ends as the hair grows) or just chop it off at once. Either way, the damaged ends have to go if you want to maintain a healthy mane.
If your hair feels dry and brittle then you can opt to deep condition more and do protein treatments to restore your hair. You should also avoid heating tools. Your hair is already suffering. No need to push it over the edge.
2. Chemically Damaged Hair
This type of damage occurs when using dyes, relaxers, texturizers and bleach on our hair. The science behind it is that the hair is covered by an outer layer called the cuticle. Chemicals wear down this cuticle layer exposing the inner layers of the hair which are more susceptible to damage.
Relaxers and texturizers work by breaking down the protein bonds that are responsible for giving your hair it’s natural shape/curl pattern. Therefore, they allow you to give restructure your hair giving it a different shape/curl pattern.
Dyes and bleaches, on the other hand, work by penetrating deep into the hair cortex in order to change its colour.
That’s enough science for the day😄. The signs of chemical damage are similar to those of heat damage.
How to Fix or Prevent Chemical Damage on your Hair
You must cut off severely damaged ends. Keeping them only gives the damage time to travel up the hair shaft. You can choose to either transition (cutting off the most damaged ends frequently in multiple sessions) or big chop (cut off all the damage in one session).
Try to also tweak your hair care routine by spacing out your chemical treatments in order to give your hair time to recover. For example spacing out the time between relaxer retouches. You can also opt for semi-permanent hair colour which does not cause as much damage to the hair. or opt for natural dyes such as henna which add a hue and strengthen the hair too.
Make sure to have all your chemical treatments done by a trained professional who knows exactly what they’re doing. It is after all better to have your hair done right the first time than to risk the damage and have it repeated which only increases the risk of damage or causes actual damage.
Use products specifically suited to chemically altered hair e.g. neutralizing shampoos for relaxers and texturizers or colour safe shampoos and conditioners if your hair is coloured.
Protein treatments are a must if you choose to alter your hair chemically. Make sure you incorporate protein into your routine to keep your hair healthy. Protein treatments act as bandaids by depositing protein/ a temporary cuticle layer on the areas of the shaft that has been damaged.
3. Damage from Wear and Tear
This type of damage happens because of our everyday activities. It is hard to avoid but can often be minimized.
The first type is weather related. Let’s face it the weather affects our hair. When seasons change, you are very likely to also feel a change in your hair. Hot seasons tend to dry hair out while cold seasons tend to dry out your scalp. Think about it, if the sun can cause sunburns on the skin, what is it doing to your hair?
Wash days, detangling sessions and styling also lead to wear and tear because of the manipulation. This paired together with our hair rubbing against our clothes or on the bedding while we sleep or when it is not in a protective style or wrapped up in a satin leads to some damage.
Signs Your Hair Has Wear and Tear Damage
- Your hair is difficult to detangle
- Your hairstyles don’t come out quite the same
- The ends feel brittle, dry and rough
- Your hair looks dull and frizzy
- There are a lot of single strand knots and split ends
- The ends of your hair strands don’t coil up like the rest of your hair
How to Prevent and Repair Hair Damage from Wear and Tear
Use gentle cleansers. These will not be as harsh on your hair. However, it is important to clarify once in a while to give your hair the deep cleanse it deserves.
Use moisturizing products. Moisturizing conditioners and deep conditioners will infuse your hair with the moisture it needs and give your hair a boost. They also help to add shine to your hair.
Use protein treatments. You can do this once every few weeks to strengthen your hair. Make sure you don’t overdo it as too much protein can leave your hair feeling stiff and brittle.
Use wide toothed combs or better yet finger detangle your hair to avoid snagging off tangles. Use products with enough slip to allow for easy detangling sessions and finally never detangle you hair while it is dry.
Trim your hair regularly, even a dusting should do. This will get rid of those dead ends and give your hair bounce. It also makes the hair easier to manage.
Moisturize and seal your hair properly. Use products which will leave your hair feeling moisturized. Make sure you pay special attention to your ends. seal them with natural oils to leave them looking and feeling soft and smooth.
The bottom line with damage: prevention is better than a cure. However, if you do find yourself in such a predicament, any of the above tips should help.
Until next time lovelies,
May your confidence remain as high as an afro puff!