How to Prevent Hair Damage in Different Conditions

We all know how important it is to apply (and reapply!) sunscreen during those hot, long summer days to prevent skin damage. But did you know the sun can also damage your hair?

If your hair has prolonged exposure to the sun, UVA and UVB rays can damage the outside cover of the hair strand, called the cuticle, says dermatologist Wilma Bergfeld, MD.

“Sun damage can come in the forms of discoloration, dry and brittle strands, broken or split ends, thinning and frizziness,” says Dr. Bergfeld. “Damaged hair has a dry look and feel, is unmanageable and won’t hold a curl or style. Damaged hair usually dries quickly, too.”

The damage goes deeper
All hair types are prone to damage, no matter the color or texture.

Your hair is particularly vulnerable to sun damage if it’s fine or light-colored. That finer, lighter hair lacks the thickness or pigment that can protect it from the sun’s rays while darker, coarser hair usually is oilier, and its thickness, darker color and oil covering help to protect it. Your hair is also more fragile and more prone to sun damage if you have thin, flat or tightly coiled hair.

The good news is that you can take precautions to protect your hair from the hot summer sun.

“The sun’s rays act very much like bleach on hair,” says Dr. Bergfeld. “Bleach reacts with the melanin in hair and removes the color in an irreversible chemical reaction. Bleach also damages the hair’s cuticle and protein, which is called keratin.”

Hot flat irons or rollers, chlorinated water in swimming pools or lightening your hair can make it more vulnerable to the summer stresses of heat and sun. All of these damage your hair’s keratin. The damaged protein then allows sun and heat to penetrate the hair more easily and results in a fragile hair strand.

“If you bleach or highlight your hair, you’ve damaged the hair already,” says Dr. Bergfeld. “To add to that by swimming in a chlorinated pool, or sitting out in the sun, you’re going to have very significant hair breakage.”

What to do if you want to be outside during the summer but don’t want a headful of frizzy, dull and damaged hair? Dr. Bergfeld recommends:

Wrap a scarf around your hair, wear a wide-brimmed hat or cover yourself with an umbrella.Go out early or late in the day, just as you would to protect your skin.

If you swim in a chlorinated pool, wear a swim cap or put your hair up in a high bun to keep your hair dry. If you get your hair wet, make sure you rinse the pool water — which contains chemicals like chlorine — out of your hair with clear water.

Use an SPF product catered to shielding hair against harmful rays. Use hair products and conditioners appropriate to your hair color and type, as well as the climate. If you have fine hair, look for a volumizing formula. Summer is a favorite season of many, but next time you’re out in the sun, don’t forget to shield your hair from the sun, too.

PROTECTION AGAINST THE HARMFUL AIR POLLUTION

Your skin and hair are the first parts of our body to be exposed to air pollution. Air pollution can do a number on your skin, and protective creams and lotions can help to prevent any serious damage from being done. Hair, on the other hand, is often left to little protection when it comes to battling air pollution and environmental factors.

Air pollution is never good news, but when it comes to protecting your hair from smog and particulate matter, it turns out you’re probably already practicing several preventative measures.

HOW DOES AIR POLLUTION AFFECT YOUR HAIR?

Because hair is often unprotected, it’s very susceptible to air pollution damage. Soot, dirt, dust, and gases can cause scalp irritation, dryness, breakage and even premature baldness. If you follow most beauty and style advice, you put a considerable amount of product in your hair. Between serums, sprays, and lotions, hair care experts are inadvertently making your hair more susceptible to attracting and collecting air pollution.

And while some people can go completely product-free, for others it’s not necessarily possible if you want to achieve a particular style. It’s important that you’re choosing the right products. Diane Minar, senior scientist at Nexxus New York Salon Care knows the pitfalls of significant air pollution, living and working in a major urban environment like New York City. She offers her take on the air pollution vs. hair situation:

Because it’s often essential to layer several products to achieve the style you want, if any of those product textures are sticky or heavy, they can act like a magnet and attract all of those elements to attach to hair which can make your hair look and feel dirty prematurely. Sticky products can be dust collectors. So, if you’re trying to get a few days out of your blowout, choosing the right styling products are crucial.

Some people are allergic to the dust, dirt, and grime that makes up particulate matter, causing damage to the hair resulting in breakage and hair loss. Hair loss affects roughly more than 70% of the population and only increases in places where pollution is more prevalent.

Specialists in the hair transplant industry have seen an increase in their services, especially in urban environments where air quality is worse and has a greater adverse effect on the body. Air pollution affects the hair just as much as it does the skin due to the microscopic nature of PM 2.5 (very small particulate matter) which can infiltrate the lungs and get lodged in the scalp:

Today air is heavily loaded with dust, matter, lead, smoke, nickel, ammonia, arsenic and hydrocarbon which does not only put adverse effects on our interior health but also affect our hair very badly. The reason behind this is, toxic content present in air enter into skin of scalp and hinder the capability of hair to generate fiber. Toxic content present in air also get entered in blood stream and hinder the growth of hair. These problems get more serious in city areas or area nearby industries. But the problem is not restricted out of your house only, even pollution come from kitchen fire, smoking tobacco, chemical and common dust also add to it.

The good news about all this bad news for your luscious locks? There are some simple preventative measures that you’re probably already doing that can help keep your hair healthy and protected from the dangers of air pollution.

PROTECTING YOUR HAIR FROM AIR POLLUTION

WEAR A HAT
As if you needed another excuse to wear a hat on your next outing! Hats are not just for fashion, they actually can serve a purpose too. Covering your hair and scalp is a good way to protect it from any airborne particles that could be toxic and harmful. It’s also helpful in shading your eyes and face from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

HYDRATE
Staying hydrated is good for your hair, your skin and pretty much every aspect of your health. Pollution and other environmental factors dry out your hair and scalp, but thankfully there are plenty of moisturizing regiments to counteract this. Look for hydrating masks that moisturize and strengthen hair’s natural hydro-lipid layer, which coats the hair to help keep it hydrated. Try: Phyto Phytojoba Intense Hydrating Brilliance Mask as it has a “light-as-a-feather” texture.

DEEP CONDITION
Start a deep conditioning routine weekly. Deep conditioners are used to repair damaged hair, penetrating deep into the hair hydrating and repairing it. Over-styling with color and heat in addition to the effects of pollution and the environment do a number on your hair and a deep conditioner is a sure-fire way to help keep it healthy. Check out this list of the best deep conditioners of 2017 to find the one that’s right for you.

ADJUST YOUR STYLING ROUTINE
Hair that has been exposed to excessive amounts of air pollution becomes damaged, feeling brittle and making breakage and split ends more likely. Keep this in mind when using heat from a straighter, curling iron or hairdryer. Minimize the amount of heat you use and always use a heat-protecting product. Be careful when brushing and styling as damaged hair is more susceptible to fall out.

HOW TO PREVENT WINTER HAIR DAMAGE

During the winter months, cold outside weather combined with dry indoor heat can wreak havoc on your strands, leading to split ends and breakage. That’s right: Breakage isn’t just a summertime sadness. It happens in winter, and to all manner of hair types. In order to have a fabulous mane all year long, there are a few precautions you should take throughout the year. SELF reached out to four top experts in the field for how to prevent winter hair woes for every texture.

1. Shampoo less often to help with itchy, flaky scalp.
Plaques of skin can smother the scalp, not only causing itch and flakes, but smothering growth as well. Jon Reyman, owner of Spoke & Weal Salons, recommends lightening up on the cleansing. “Shampoo a little less if you can. For those with flakes and more severe scalp issues, Aveda Scalp Remedy Dandruff Solution ($28; aveda.com) is great. It’s perfect even for oily or fine hair because it cleanses without weighing hair down.” Reyman also suggests watching your diet and managing stress as good solutions for scalp concerns.

2. Switch to an oil-based moisturizer to lock in extra moisture.
Blasts of dry air are not good for any type of hair. The only way to combat it: extra moisture. “Natural, curly, wavy, relaxed, and coiled hair is sensitive to cold weather, when it’s prone to brittle texture, breakage, and split ends,” explains Ron Williams, national educator for Phytospecific, who suggests using a heavier-than-usual oil-based moisturizer that will evaporate more slowly to protect textured hair.

3. Commit to weekly treatments to keep hair hydrated.
Dry air also means all hair textures should focus on weekly hair treatments to replace lost moisture. “Hair dries out in winter from not having enough moisture in the indoor air, which is when a good conditioner comes in handy,” advises James Corbett, owner of James Corbett Studio and global color consultant for Clairol, who recommends using the brand’s new color-specific Nice n’ Easy CC+ ColorSeal Conditioner ($5; drugstore.com). “Once a week, you should baby your hair: Slather conditioner on and take 30 minutes for the moisture to penetrate into the hair shaft.”

4. Use leave-in conditioner to combat static.

Floating, fine strands are a common occurrence during winter, which Corbett says is a key sign of dryness. Corbett advises that, instead of the static guard/dryer sheet route, be sure hair is hydrated with regular conditioning, then lock it in with a leave-in conditioner.

5. Forgo platinum haircolor for a darker dye this winter.
According to Corbett, this might be a good time to dial down blonde ambition. “Anytime you can switch off is good. Platinum is awesome, but it’s so incredibly damaging for the hair.” He advises leaving the roots a little darker and applying a demipermanent hue until the weather is kinder. “That way, it washes out, and the process won’t be that detrimental when you’re ready to go back to platinum again.”

Williams also advises paring back on chemical straighteners. “Limit the amount of chemicals applied to the hair, which will improve moisture levels and decrease breakage. If not, use gentler products, and always see a professional for application.”

6. Cut down on your heat-heavy styling routine.
All that heat and dryness will result in split ends and breakage. Corbett advises avid use of heat protection, including leave-in conditioners, to prevent breakage. Try Klorane Leave-in Cream with Papyrus Milk ($16; sephora.com). Also try protective styles, such as braids, buns, twists, and ponytails, which give hair time off from the heat routine.

7. But never go outside with damp hair to bypass breakage.
Although time is of the essence in the morning, it’s critical to dry hair thoroughly before dashing into the cold. “Anything that’s cold expands, and that’s what can happen with your wet hair shaft in the cold weather, which puts you at risk for breakage and makes your color fade faster,” cautions Corbett. Take the time. Your hair—and your salon bill—will thank you later.

8. Line your winter hat with silk or satin to stop split ends.

Warning: Wool, cotton, and other coarse fabrics can cause split ends and breakage, a tip even more important if you have curls or natural-textured hair. “Always line wool, acrylic, and/or cotton hats with silk or satin,” recommends Williams, who advises going DIY: Buy or use old fabric (like a vintage scarf or silk blouse) to measure and sew into any hat you already own.
Williams recommends curly and natural girls apply an oil-based hair moisturizer prior to hat placement, while Corbett suggests smooth-textured ladies utilize a silk scarf to prolong their blowout. “Place your blowout or style inside a silk scarf underneath your hat to protect your hair. When you arrive at your destination, remove the scarf and your blowout will be in tact and protected.”

9. Use dry shampoo for volume if your hair has gone limp.
Those with oily hair might find their hair goes extraordinarily limp, particularly when it comes to the dreaded “hat head,” which can ruin your style and, you know, your whole day. “You’ll want to shampoo a little more, and condition a little less, especially at the root,” explains Reyman. “Use a good spray or thickening tonic to help build up the style and add volume. Dry shampoos are great for this: they keep the hair fuller and more robust, and expand the hair shaft.”

10. Hydrate hair overnight with an oil or serum.
Dry night air leeches moisture from your skin (hello, night cream!) as well as your hair. Ryan Cotton, hairstylist at Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon, is a proponent of night serums. “It can sometimes create a mess on your pillowcase, but I say designate an old pillowcase for ‘hydration night.’” He recommends applying a serums like John Frieda Frizz Ease Nourishing Oil Elixir ($8; Soap.com) on dry hair right before bed. “They’re much better vehicles of moisture since they pass through dry hair better than wet.”

Williams advises girls with curls, relaxed, and textured strands hydrate nightly with a light oil high in omega fatty acids, like Phytospecific Baobab Oil ($40; sephora.com,) along with an extra measure of added protection. “Always cover your hair with a sleep bonnet or silk scarf to avoid friction. It will also keep moisture levels intact.”

How to Prevent and Repair Heat-Damaged Hair

From blow drying and curling to flat ironing and waving, our tresses endure a lot of heat styling on a daily basis. While hot tools can definitely leave your hair looking more stylish and put together, over time, heat damage can lead to dry, dull and brittle strands. And if you color or chemically process your hair, this damage is compounded, since it’s coupled with the effects of the chemicals used to produce your desired hue.

“When the hair strand is compromised from heat, the outer cuticle layer—aka the hair’s protector—begins to break down and exposes the medulla, the strongest part of the hair,” explains Gabriella Chillino, New York City-based hairstylist. “This will cause loss of melanin (color) in the hair and a decrease in nourishment, which leads to visibly broken, dry and sometimes even frizzier hair,” she adds.

Unfortunately, no hair type is immune to heat damage, from the curliest of curly to the straightest of straight. Whatever the texture, however, there are thankfully plenty of ways to minimize heat damage without having to toss out our beloved heat-styling tools altogether. Here, top hairstylists share their go-to solutions for protecting strands from heat damage, no matter the texture, length or color.

1. Get regular trims
While at first thought, cutting your hair might not seem like it could help prevent heat damage, the reality is the healthier your strands, the less damage heat will cause. “Once the hair begins to break or split, it will continue to work itself up the hair shaft to the point where you have all of these short hairs you didn’t have before,” says Chillino. You can prevent this by trimming your hair even just once every couple of months, although stylists recommend doing so every 8–12 weeks.

2. Use a high-quality shampoo
To strengthen the hair barrier so that it’s strong enough to withstand heat damage without breaking, Cris Baadsgaard, Colour Collective Partner stylist and owner of Scene Salon in Dallas, Texas, recommends using a high-quality shampoo and conditioner to help moisturize and detangle. “Rahua’s Hydration Shampoo and Alterna’s CAVIAR Anti-Aging® Replenishing Moisture Shampoo are excellent choices,” she says. “After washing and conditioning, use a light spray or detangler like R+Co’s PINSTRIPE Intense Detangling Spray to add another layer of strengthening and protection,” notes Baadsgaard.

3. Air dry whenever possible
Air drying might take longer, but it will save your hair from serious damage in the long run—even if you do it just once or twice a week. If you have naturally curly hair that you love to wear straight or super straight hair that you love to make wavy, Tina Malhotra, hairstylist at L’Appartement Hair Boudoir in New York City, suggests allowing your hair to air dry first and then applying the hot iron onto your newly air-dried strands. Alternatively, you can try hairstyles that don’t involve heat, such as braids or even a messy bun.

4. Use a moderate heat setting
One of the biggest mistakes people make when using a hot iron is turning the heat setting up too high. The sweet spot for most hair types is 150–200 degrees, according to Chillino, although coarse, thicker textures may need closer to 300 degrees. “I would never use [a settling] higher than 400 degrees because that’s when all textures will start to get damaged,” she says. “I tell my clients that they are better off doing a few more passes with the flat iron on a low heat setting than only a few passes on a really high setting,” says Chillino.

5. Always apply a thermal protector
Before you take the heat to your hair, even with just a blow dryer, it’s always recommended that you use a heat protectant, which creates a barrier between your open hair shaft and the heat. Malhotra’s go-to is Oribe’s Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray. “Spritz over wet hair a few times and then use a wide-tooth comb-like The Wet Brush’s Comb Detangler to distribute it from roots to ends of hair,” she says. “As an added bonus, a lot of heat-protectant serums tend to detangle strands, as well, creating less friction and breakage when you comb through,” explains Malhotra.

6. Use hair masks regularly
If you do heat-style often, one of the best ways you can expedite your hair’s recovery is to do a hair mask at least once a week. Stephanie Brown, Master Hair Colorist at the Eddie Arthur Salon in New York City, loves Leonor Greyl’s Masque Quintessence Deep Nourishing Treatment Mask, which contains a blend of hibiscus and coconut oils to condition and protect hair from heat and environmental aggressors. “This mask will help keep moisture in your hair and add a layer of protection when you style with hot tools,” she explains.

7. Invest in a really good blow dryer and brush
This is one of the simplest ways to cut out some of the damage you may be causing your hair, says Chillino. “A better blow dryer with a proper nozzle, like the Harry Josh® Pro Tools Ultra Light Pro Dryer, will eliminate having to work as hard and long on your hair because it will take less time and therefore apply less heat,” she says. She also recommends using a boar bristle brush, like the Mason Pearson Handy Bristle Hair Brush, since it doesn’t heat up the way a ceramic or metal brush does. “Instead it pulls the natural oils through the hair without drying the hair out,” she notes. “A ceramic brush will be consistently heating the hair and may be too much for certain textures,” adds Chillino.

8. Don’t Heat-Style Damp Hair

When you apply hot tools like straighteners or curling irons to damp hair, you’re basically frying your hair. Wet or even damp hair is much more fragile than dry hair. And the tools’ heat transforms moisture into steam, which damages the hair strand as it escapes. Only use these hot tools on completely dry hair to avoid this kind of damage

9. Avoid Hair Dye

If your hair is heat-damaged, consider skipping the dye and chemical treatments. Hair dyes, especially bleaches, can cause further stress to your already-damaged hair. If you must color your hair, ask your hairstylist about gentler options like ammonia-free dyes or semi-permanent formulas.

While lightening your hair is most likely out of the question if you have damaged strands, your hairstylist can help you to find a color that works for you without causing further destruction to your hair.

10. Use a Leave-In Conditioner

Leave-in conditioners are a great way to add extra moisture to damaged, dry hair. Make your own leave-in conditioner by combining 1 cup of distilled water with 3 tablespoons of conditioner in a spray bottle, then shaking well. Spray your DIY leave-in conditioner onto wet hair to lock in hydration and make detangling easier.

Unfortunately, heat-damaged hair can happen very quickly, while repairing that heat damage can take a long time. That’s why it’s so important to avoid heat damage in the first place! Treat your hair to a little extra TLC and it will reward you by maintaining its healthy look.

How to Save Your Hair From Hard Water

Do you live in a hard-water area? Is your hair giving you daily grief? No amount of conditioners or styling sprays can rescue you, as the root of the problem lies in your tap water.

I recently visited Amsterdam. This was my second visit, and my love for the city is getting bigger with every visit. And it’s not just me, but my hair too have fallen in love with the city. When I am in Amsterdam, I don’t need conditioners or hair styling products to make my hair look good. Just bathing in the Amsterdam water is enough. Amsterdam, also called as ‘City of water’, due to many water bodies – canals, dikes, podlers – is very soft compared to London. And soft water is treat for your hair and skin.

If you live in hard water areas – I live in London – you will exactly know what I am talking about. Hard water gloom!

What is hard water? Hard water is water that has a high mineral content – especially calcium and magnesium – in comparison to soft water. Although it’s not considered as harmful for your health, hard water can cause serious problems to your hair and skin. After many washing, minerals dissolved in the hard water create a film on the hair. This prevents the moisture from entering the hair. The result is dry, dull, tangly, and strange coloured hair. Hard water can also cause build up on the scalp, causing a dandruff-like condition to form.

However, do not fret. Hard water need not ruin your hair. For those of you who desire silky and shiny tresses, here are some effective solutions.

8 Ways to Save your Hair from Hard Water

1. Vinegar Rinse
The acidity of vinegar works to remove cal build up from your hair. It also balances the pH of your hair, smoothes down the cuticles, and leaves your hair feeling soft and silky.

You can use any vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is the best for hair. Mix 1 teaspoons of vinegar to 2 cups of water. ( I also like to add a tablespoon of coconut water, makes the rinse luxury). After shampooing, pour this mixture on to your hair. Massage the scalp and work through your hair and leave it for a couple of minutes, then wash it off. Vinegar rinse also increases shine and gives body to limp hair. Use it once a week, as every day use will make your hair dry.

2. Lemon/Lime Rinse

Like vinegar, the acidic nature of lemon juice will help remove buildup from your hair.

To make the lemon rinse, take a tablespoon of lemon juice and add 3 cups of water, and mix well. After shampooing, pour this rinse on to your hair. Massage the scalp and work through your hair and leave it for a couple of minutes, then wash it off. Lemon rinse will enhance shine and look of your hair. Plus the antiseptic properties of lemon also remedy dandruff.

Note: Lime juice can lighten your hair over time.

3. Water Softener
A water softener is a good, but expensive way to solve your hard water worries. It removes calcium and magnesium (limescale) and certain other metal cations from the hard water – making the water soft.

When you touch the soft water, it will not look or feel any different, although your skin and hair will be much happier. Also, soft water can be useful for people experiencing hair build up, eczema, dandruff and other hard water-related conditions.

4. Shower Filter

A shower filter is a cheaper alternative to the water softener. It can considerably reduce limescale, chlorine and many other chemicals from hard water. There are many different types of shower filter that attach to your shower unit. You can buy these online or in home stores.

5. Bottled Water or Filter Jug

Other than vinegar and lime juice, I also like to use herbal hair rinses. My favorite herbs for hair are chamomile and shikakai. I place a tablespoon each in a pot and add 2 cups of hot water, bring to a boil, switch off the flame and let it steep until cool. Strain and use as above.

You can use any herb you like, s ome good ones for your hair are: marshmallow, hibiscus, nettle, amla, sage, rosemary and rose petals.

Another option is to use bottled mineral/spring water for final rinse. Although not that expensive, you will have plastic bottles piling up (and one plastic bottle can take up to 400 years to biodegrade). It can be a temp solution especially if your hair is giving you a hard time, or when you are visiting the hard water area for a few days.

Instead of bottled water, you can also use water from filter jug, and that may not be so much plastic waste.

I share my experience of using water jug here

6. Rain Water

Rain is soft water. And it’s free! You can catch rainwater in a wide mouth container and use that to wash your hair. Although I haven’t tried it, many people swear by its benefits. It’s said to make hair really soft and glossy.

The only drawback – you can’t have it all the time

7. Clarifying Shampoo

According to me one of the most effective and natural clarifying shampoos is soap nut (reetha) and shikakai shampoo. This all-natural shampoo not just cleans your hair, it adds volume and shine and makes hair feel thicker and smooth.

Market-bought clarifying shampoos can be harsh on hair so use them sparingly. And when buying a clarifying shampoo or any products for that matter always choose products with natural and safer ingredients.

8. Use a leave-in Conditioner for Glossy Finish

This will not remove the buildup, but it will surely pep up your hair. After shampooing and towel drying, when the hair is still damp, apply a few drops of natural leave-in conditioner like coconut oil, argan oil, jojoba oil or almond oil. It will seal the moisture within the strands and give you that smooth, glossy finish.

Conclusion
Hard water will give you chronic hair malfunctions and can even lead to minor hair loss.

Understand how to fix hard water problems by making important changes to your hair care routine.

Chelate and neutralize their effects. Bring your hair back to life again.

How to Repair Damaged Hair

Hair damage is more than just split ends. Extremely damaged hair develops cracks in the outside layer (cuticle). Once the cuticle lifts (opens), your hair is at risk for further damage and breakage. It may also look dull or frizzy and be difficult to manage.

So can you really go from dry, brittle hair to smooth, shiny locks? The answer isn’t always cut and dried. For the most part, hair damage is permanent because hair is actually a collection of dead cells, making them beyond repair.

The only real cure is time, a pair of shears, and taking steps to prevent new damage.

But don’t despair, with proper hair care and a few targeted treatments, you can help restore the outer cuticle and begin to improve the look and feel of your hair.

If you know where you went wrong
Sometimes it’s all too clear how you ended up with damaged hair. When used improperly, dye, bleach, and styling tools can do a number on your locks.

Keep reading to learn how to prevent further damage and smooth over your symptoms until you’re able to cut the damaged hair. You may need to “double dip” to meet all of your needs.

1. It’s from dye

Whether you went pastel, mermaid, or just tried to cover a few grays, dying your hair at home can have consequences that last longer than the color. Chemical dyes can remove your hair’s natural moisture, quickly making smooth hair coarse to the touch.

Unless your hair was light to begin with, you may also have had to bleach your hair before applying the dye (see “It’s from bleach” below for more on this).

How to limit further damage

Stay on shade. Experts recommend choosing a dye within three shades of your natural color and opting for shades that are darker rather than lighter to limit damage. Unnatural colors are more difficult to maintain and have to be touched up more frequently.

Dye less often. Extending the time between touch-ups can also help reduce damage. If possible, wait 8 to 10 weeks — or longer! — between dye jobs.

To make this more feasible:

  • Wash your hair less frequently.
  • Only use shampoos formulated for dyed hair.
  • Rinse shampoo and conditioner with cool water. Hot water can cause the cuticle to open, or lift, allowing the dye to rinse out.

Go to a professional. Salons can be expensive, but coloring is often best left to the professionals. A professional colorist knows how to use the correct products to minimize damage.

Opt for semi- or demi-permanent. Treatments that permanently alter the hair can change the hair so aggressively that the only fix is to grow it out and start over.

Stick to one service at a time. If you want to chemically relax, straighten, or perm your hair, it’s best to do it at least two weeks before your hair color appointment. This gives your hair time to recover between treatments.

How to ease existing damage

Use olive oil. This common cooking oil is also extremely popular in hair care. Oils have been shownTrusted Source to help rehydrate the hair and smooth the cuticle. Olive oil, in particular, is said to help soften the hair and replenish much needed moisture.

It’s also easy to work with and relatively inexpensive. Just be sure to wait a few days post-coloring before you do an olive oil treatment.

Use color-safe shampoo and conditioner. These products are formulated with the proper pH to prevent the hair shaft from swelling and allowing the dye to leak out. Your color will last longer, and your hair will look and feel better.

Popular options include:

  • Mineral Fusion Lasting Color Shampoo
  • Nexxus Color Assure Shampoo
  • Pureology Hydrate Conditioner

2. It’s from bleach
If you’ve gone from dark to light hair, you probably know all too well the damage that bleach can inflict on your hair.

Bleach is used to remove your natural hair color from each strand. To do this, it makes your hair swell, allowing the bleach to reach the inner part of the strand. Here, it dissolves the melanin that gives your hair pigment.

This process can leave hair dry, porous, brittle, and fragile. The permanent changes in your hair structure can also make it less strong and elastic.

How to limit further damage

Bleach less frequently… or not at all. There’s no way around it. Bleach always damages your hair to some degree. The less you do it, the better.

Add moisture. Before bleaching, pay extra attention to moisturizing your hair and avoid other damaging activities, like heat styling, for a couple of weeks.

Use sun protection. The sun’s UV rays can harm your hair. Bleached hair is especially susceptible to UV damage.

Try wearing a wide-brimmed hat or hair wrap to protect your hair and scalp. You can also use a UV protection hair spray to protect hair that peeks out.

For added benefits, look for products that also have conditioner.

Popular options include:

  • Sun Bum Beach Formula 3 In 1 Leave-In Hair Conditioning Treatment
  • Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer
  • Sun Bum Beach Formula Shine On Hair Conditioning Treatment

Be extra careful with chlorine. In addition to turning your locks an unpleasant shade of green, chlorine can strip moisture from your hair and leave it feeling even more brittle and coarse.

To avoid this:

  • Rinse your hair with fresh water before going in the pool. This moisture may help prevent the chlorine from changing the color of your hair and drying out your strands.
  • You should also wash your hair thoroughly as soon as you get out of the pool.
  • Although any hydrating shampoo and conditioner should do, you can also use a specially formulated swim shampoo and conditioner.

How to ease existing damage

Use almond oil. This sweet-smelling oil can help soften and strengthen your hair. Apply a dime-sized amount to the ends of your hair before drying to rehydrate the strands and decrease frizz.

Popular options include:

  • NOW Sweet Almond Oil
  • Head and Shoulders Dry Scalp Care with Almond Oil Dandruff Shampoo

Try a rice water rinse. As odd as it seems, research suggests that the water you pour down the drain while rinsing rice can actually help your hair. Inositol, an ingredient found in rice water, has been shown to penetrate damaged hair and repair hair from the inside out.

3. It’s from using heat tools

Styling with heat can “cook” hair fibers and lead to raised cuticles and porous hair. Using heat too often or at high temperatures can make your hair more prone to damage.

How to limit further damage

Blow dry from a distance. Blow dryers are notorious for causing damage. The good news is that you may not have to give it up entirely. One studyTrusted Source found that holding the blow dryer 15 centimeters (about six inches) away from your hair and moving the blow dryer continuously can help reduce damage.

Use a heat protection product. These products are meant to help protect the hair and prevent split ends.

Popular options include:

  • HSI PROFESSIONAL Argan Oil Thermal Protector
  • TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Protective Spray

Lower the temperature. The hotter the temperature, the more damage you can do. Excessive heat can damage your hair regardless of where it’s coming from. Use the lowest heat setting on any product and limit the time the hot air, iron, or curler touches your hair.

Air dry. Avoid heat altogether and let the air do all the work for you.

To do this, gently wrap your hair in a towel after showering. This well help pull out excess water before you let it hang free to dry. Don’t rub your hair with the towel, as this can cause unnecessary friction and damage your hair.

Heat-free drying may also be a good idea if you plan on styling with a flat iron or a curling iron. Experts recommend using heat tools no more than once a week.

Go natural. Embrace heat-free hair style like salt-sprayed beach waves. or allow your hair’s natural texture and style to take the spotlight.

How to ease existing damage

Use coconut oil. This tropical oil is a beauty bombshell. A key benefit? The oil’s molecules are small enoughTrusted Source to penetrate the outer cuticle and hydrate from the inside out.

It can also help replenish the protective oils on the outside of your hair. These oils help guard against heat damage and breakageTrusted Source.

Look for products that include coconut oil, or apply the warmed oil once a week as a deep hydrating mask.

Popular options include:

  • Viva Naturals Organic Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Desert Essence Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner

4. It’s from ignoring your hairdresser’s phone calls

Regular haircuts can go a long way toward keeping your hair healthy and well-maintained. Going too long between cuts can lead to dry split ends. And as with the rest of your strand, you can’t put split ends back together.

While the real answer here is getting a haircut to remove the problematic ends, there are a couple of things you can do while you wait for your appointment.

How to limit further damage

Treat your hair well. Follow good hair care practices to prevent damage so your hair looks great when you go longer between cuts.

Remove the damage. Get regular haircuts to remove your dry, damaged ends. Your hairdresser can help you decide how long you should go between cuts.

How to ease existing damage

Use a hair mask or conditioner treatment. Hair masks can’t work miracles, but they can help hide and protect against split ends.

Popular options include:

  • Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner
  • Premium Nature Coconut Oil Hair Mask Conditioner
  • Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask

If you aren’t sure what’s to blame

There may not be an obvious cause for your hair troubles. In that case, go ahead and treat the symptoms. You may need to try a couple of the options below to effectively address what’s going on.

1. It’s tangled

Damaged hair is easily tangled. The raised cuticles create more friction and grab onto other strands more aggressively than sleek, closed cuticles. The lack of moisture on each strand can also add to your knotty situation.

How to limit further damage

Carefully brush and detangle. Start at the ends of the hair and slowly work out the knots as you move up toward your roots. Starting at the top of your head and forcefully tugging the brush through your hair can break the hair and lead to lasting damage as well as unwanted flyaways and frizz.

Only brush dry hair. Unless you have textured or tightly curled hair, only brush your hair when it’s fully dry.

You can use a wide-toothed comb to work conditioner or detangler through your hair, but wait until it’s dry to break out the brush. Wet hair breaks more easily and is more prone to being overstretched, which can cause damage along the entire shaft.

Brush less. It’s counterintuitive, but brushing is when the damage is most likely to occur. Brush your hair before washing it and when absolutely necessary throughout the day. Be gentle when you do brush.

Tie up your hair. Put your hair into a ponytail, braid, or loose bun before doing any activities that frequently tangle your hair. This often includes going for a run or driving with the windows down.

How to ease existing damage

Pay attention to moisture. Hair that’s lacking natural oilsTrusted Source is often rough, dull, and prone to static electricity and tangles. Properly hydrated hair is less likely to get tangled or knotted. If conditioner alone isn’t enough, consider adding a leave-in conditioner or detangler to your routine.

Popular options include:

  • Aveeno Nourish + Condition Leave-In Treatment
  • Shea Moisture Kids Extra-Moisturizer Detangler
  • The Honest Company Conditioning Detangler

2. It’s dull and dry

Damaged hair often lacks the natural oil and moisture that coats the outside of the cuticle. Without this, hair loses its shine.

How to limit further damage

Wash less. Shampoo is designed to remove the buildup of oils and product on the scalp. As it works its way through your hair, it also strips the oils from your hair. Try washing every other day — or less if you can — to help keep those oils in your hair and prevent over-stripping the moistureTrusted Source.

How to ease existing damage

Use a shampoo and conditioner formulated for dry hair. Shampoos with added moisture and less intense detergents can help prevent too much oil from being stripped and add moisture back. Be careful to only shampoo your scalp.

Use jojoba oil. Jojoba oil can help strengthen and rehydrate the hair. Jojoba is frequently added to conditioners, but you can add some to what you currently own. You can also work a dime-to-quarter-sized amount of pure oil through your ends while your hair is damp.

Popular options include:

  • Silk18 Natural Hair Conditioner
  • Nature’s Gate Jojoba Revitalizing, Duo Set Shampoo + Conditioner
  • Viva Naturals Organic Jojoba Oil

3. It’s fried and frizzy

Frizzy hair is a sign that your cuticle isn’t lying flat. It can also mean that the inner fibers of your hair are exposed.

How to limit further damage

Rinse with cold water. Hot water opens up the outer layer of your hair (cuticle), whereas cold water can help close it. Rinsing with cool or cold water can help protect the inner layer of your hair and hold in hydrating oils.

How to ease existing damage

Use the right product. An overly aggressive shampoo can remove too much of your hair’s natural oils. This can leave you with strands that are difficult to untangle and that frizz when dry. Look for a more moisturizing shampoo and conditioner.

Try an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse. The water and products you use can affect your hair’s pH level. If your hair’s pH is too high, it can cause the cuticle to lift and frizz. An ACV rinse can help restore the pH balance in your hair and scalp as well as add back shine.

Use Argan oil. This Moroccan oil is highly moisturizing and rich in vitamins A and E. It may also help prevent breakage if you do need to brush or style your hair right away. Look for products that contain Argan, or work the oil through your ends while your hair is still damp.

Popular options include:

  • ArtNaturals Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set
  • ArtNaturals Argan Oil Hair Mask

4. It’s brittle and breaking

Brittle hair can feel like straw and break off easily. It’s one of the most difficult symptoms to manage, and it frequently occurs in overly processed hair.

How to limit further damage

Eat a balanced diet. A diet loaded with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has a host of benefits, including healthy hair. Biotin, vitamins A and C, and iron are all important for strong, luscious hair.

Protect from the sun. Too much sun exposureTrusted Source can make your hair brittle and more prone to breakage. Lighter-colored hair, like blonde and gray, is also more susceptible to sun damage. Wear a hat or use a UV protection product.

Skip products that boast of a “long-lasting hold.” These products can dry out your hair. Brushing or styling your hair once you’ve applied them can also cause your hair to break.

Avoid dying, bleaching, chemical treatments, and heat styling. Give your hair a complete rest until it’s less brittle and holding together better.

How to ease existing damage

Try the soak-and-smear approach. Some experts swear by the soak-and-smear method.

To do this, shampoo and condition like normal. Blot your hair dry with a towel before adding a leave-in conditioner.

Once you work the leave-in conditioner through, add an oil to lock in the moisture. This helps make your hair easier to work with.

Popular options include:

  • ArtNaturals Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioner
  • Giovanni Direct Leave-In Treatment Conditioner
  • Acure Organics Ultra-Hydrating Conditioner

The bottom line

Unless you have a time machine, you can’t undo hair damage once it’s done. But you can change your habits and give your hair some extra love.

If you aren’t seeing results after a few weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist. They can assess your symptoms and determine whether an underlying condition may be to blame.

 

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