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Repairing Damaged Hair

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Treatments for Damaged Hair
Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

There are treatments to improve the look of damaged hair.

Treatments for Damaged Hair

Several different culprits cause hair damage. They include heat from curling irons, blow dryers, heat lamps, tanning beds, the sun, synthetic lights, mechanical devices like combs, brushes, chemicals for coloring, permanents, relaxers, as well as chemicals in the pool or in the air; poor diet can also cause hair damage. And contrary to popular belief, hair damage cannot be repaired. However, there are treatments to improve the look of damaged hair, as well as, being aware of damaging hazards.
  • Visit your Stylist for Routine Trims. In most instances, if you have damaged hair, you need to trim or cut. Hair is like clothing, after it's washed a lot, it tends to loose it's elasticity, color, and shape. The older the clothing, the worse it looks. The same holds true with hair. If your hair is long, you have more "old" hair then "new" hair. Old hair tends to break easier; loose it's elasticity, and look dull and brittle. Getting trims and keeping the hair short is the best way to rid you of damaged hair. If you must have long hair, cut the ends at least every 3 weeks to remove and prevent split ends.


  • Shampooing and Conditioning. Use a mild shampoo and conditioner for damaged hair. Look for ingredients that include protein extracts like collagen and amino acids from silk. Panthenol and Vitamin B5 are known to penetrate hair and to improve moisture content. Although dry hair is not necessarily damaged hair, often it's easier to break; therefore, the more moisture in the hair, the more pliable the hair is. Well-conditioned hair is also free from tangles, tangles are hard to comb through, by eliminating them, and you can comb the hair easier and less aggressive. Avoid washing the hair daily, this also dries out the hair, making it prone to break. When the hair is wet always use a wide-tooth-comb, never a brush. The hair is most vulnerable to breaks and tears when wet. Do not rub the hair dry with a towel instead blot the hair. Rubbing often causes tangles and can break the hairs. Often times by applying a silicone oil or gloss to the hair will coat it and give the appearance of smooth hair; it doesn't "fix" it. When applying gels, creams, and hair sprays, use the ones that give you flexible hold. Avoid the hair styling products that have "excessive" hold and that don't let the hair move naturally.


  • Avoid Heating Tools. Perhaps the best advice is to allow the hair to dry naturally, do not use any type of heat-type tools on damaged hair. But in all reality, this is hard to do. So, if you must use heating tools, use a diffuser on your hair dryer at a very low setting or better yet, use the "cool" setting, same with irons, use them on the lowest setting possible. Always try and avoid any type of hot rollers, it's better to use a curling iron.


  • Brushing Carefully. Hair that has dried should be combed when possible with a wide-tooth-comb, however, if you must use a brush, use one with bristles that are smooth, ball-tipped, coarse and bendable. Brushes should have widely spaced bristles to prevent damage.


  • Avoid using hairpins, clips, and pony tail holders. These types of accessories have to be tight in order to stay in the hair; often the tightness will cause hair to break. Never use rubber bands, if you must use a hair accessory, use a fabric scrunchie or a loose fitting comb or clip with rubber padding.
  • Avoid permanents and coloring, as well as relaxers. These chemical treatments can be very damaging. If you must color or perm your hair, tell your stylist to use a mild solution. And only perm and color on a limited basis.


  • Chlorine and Salt Water. When swimming in chlorine water or in salt water, always wash hair afterwards with a clarifying shampoo. There are specially formulated shampoos for swimmers. The chlorine and the salt in the water can dry hair and make it very brittle. By washing the salt and chemicals out of the hair immediately after a swim may prevent this from occurring.


  • Outside Hazards. When outside, during winter months always wear a loose fitting scarf or hat. During summer months, avoid the sun; wear a loose fitting cap or scarf. When in the tanning bed, wrap the hair in a towel to avoid the drying effects of UV lights.


  • Diet and Vitamins. Eat protein rich foods like chicken, fish, or nuts. These foods contain essential fatty acids that improve the hairs strength and produce natural body oils. You can also take a supplement or vitamin; there are even supplements for the hair.


In most cases, it will take time to rid a person of damaged hair. The hair only grows at a rate of ½ inch per month for the average woman. Therefore, you must be patient, as well as adhere to the tips listed above. Time, routine maintenance, and avoiding the hazards are the key ingredients to having healthy hair.