Damaging your hair after working so hard to care and nurture it to your dream length and volume is every woman’s worst nightmare. The bad news is, hair damage can never be fully avoided. Hair is prone to several types of damage that happens even as we go about our daily activities. Yeh! heat is not your only enemy.
Unfortunately, damaged hair can never be fully repaired. The first tip we recommend is to prevent any unnecessary damage in the first place.
With everyday wear and tear, being one of the most common causes of damage to your hair, our second tip is to make it your goal to arrest the damage immediately it happens if it does happen that you have damaged hair. Because well, life happens.
Before we proceed with the do’s and don’t of damaged hair, lets first begin with a good explanation of the different types of damage that hair is most prone to. This way we will better understand what we need to do to prevent it and what to do to stop it from getting worse and ways to temporarily 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 it. See what we did there? Gain…Hold on… Leave a comment below if you get it.
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, you can try to revive it by deep conditioning it a little more often. Use protein treatments to create a protective layer over your cuticle to temporarily restore its protective layers.
You should also avoid using heating tools while your hair has ‘active’ heat damage. 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 your 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 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 immediately. 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 moisturizing conditioners if your hair is coloured.
Regular protein treatments are a must if you choose to alter your hair chemically. Make sure you incorporate protein into your hair 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 beddings 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.
Ensure you use moisturizing products especially when you have afro-textured hair. Moisturizing conditioners and deep conditioners will infuse your hair with the moisture it needs and give your hair the boost it needs to keep it soft and manageable. Moisturizing products also bring out a natural shine to your hair.
Use protein treatments regularly. You can do this once every three to four weeks to strengthen and repair your hair. Make sure not to overdo it though as there is such a thing as too much protein in your hair. You can tell that your hair has too much protein in it when it feels stiff and brittle.
Use wide-toothed combs when detangling your hair. Or better yet finger detangle your hair first before using a comb to avoid snagging off the tangles. Make sure to use products with enough slip to allow for easy detangling sessions and finally never detangle your hair while it is dry.
Trim your hair regularly. Even a dusting should do you a whole world of good if you’re not too keen on losing those inches. Trimming helps to 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. Make sure to pay special attention to your ends, sealing them by applying a small amount of oil or butter like shea or cocoa butter to leave them looking and feeling soft and smooth and to prevent single strand knots.
The bottom line with damage is that prevention is better than a cure. However, if you do find yourself in a predicament where you are sporting some damage, the above tips should help you make the right steps towards healthier happier hair.