How To Get Your Hair Back to Health
We love chemicals, especially in our hair.
With a professional partner, we typically minimize the amount of chemical damage to our hair, but this path is not always foolproof. I never had an issue with chemical damage until I went to a salon to have a hairstylist perm and dye my hair in the same session.
In hindsight, I should have stopped that chemically induced circus she was applying to my hair, but I figured since she was a professional that I would be in good hands. Turquoise streaks were my goal with raven black hair. Initially, after leaving the salon, my hair looked great. It was shiny, and the colors were vibrant. My dream accomplished!
However, it was weeks before the damage started to rear its ugly head in my hair. The sections applied with color broke off first. It happened so slowly that I did not notice until styling my hair one day and seeing a significant amount of my hair was gone, and dry, brittle strands stood in their place.
My hair became noticeably shorter and dryer due to the chemical effects. It was a truly horrible experience.
After going natural to cut down on the chemicals in my hair, I am confident to share the ways to revert hair from being a chemically damaged disaster to a healthy shiny masterpiece.
What Is Chemical Damage?
Chemical damage to your hair is exactly as it sounds.
Many of the ways we like to achieve head-turning hairstyles come from the effects of chemicals on our hair. Perms, Brazilian blowouts, keratin treatments, hair colors, and hair bleaches all contain chemicals that help us to achieve our preferred style.
These treatments are not wrong in and of themselves; however, you may have experienced a traumatic salon experience, applied your refresher too soon, or had a DIY go terribly wrong, which may have caused your hair to break off, dry out or feel like straw. It is in the nature of a chemical process to impose some damage to your hair. You are adding strong chemicals, remember?
However, with all other factors of professional partners and time in your favor the damage should be minimal. These chemicals, depending on your treatment, strip the lipid layer of the hair or break bonds within the follicles to deposit color inside the hair strands.
The cuticle layer is typically lifted to allow the chemical process to occur. Your hair is dryer when these treatments go wrong because your cuticle layer is left wide open and unable to hold onto moisture. Chemical damage is usually irreversible, but there are tips and remedies you can do to your hair to revert some of the damage and assist your hair in regaining its health.
Below are five ways to decrease your chemically damaged hair and get your tresses back to life.
#1 Break Up With Your Chemicals and Heating Tools
It may be hard to break up with your hair color or perm that you have reapplied faithfully every 2-4 weeks.
However, adding more chemicals to your hair is not helping but instead increasing the damage already done to your hair. Chemicals on hair previously color-treated only aids in the dry and brittleness of your hair.
When it comes to retouching your hair color, consider just applying color to your roots instead of all over your hair. Try waiting a little longer in between your touch-ups, to allow your hair to gain back more of its strength. You may typically wait four weeks, instead, try to wait six or eight weeks.
Tons of videos and articles online show various ways to style and wear your hair while in between touch-ups. If push comes to shove, you can always rock some fabulous head wraps for the time being.
The second items you want to break up with are your heating tools. Yes, your flat iron, curling iron, and blow dryer should take a much-deserved break from your hair. Again heat only increases the amount of damage done to your hair. I had a terrible experience taking my luscious blue curls to a Dominican hair salon (talk about some serious heat!).
Only to have later that my hair was dehydrated and started breaking off. Your hair is already dry and thirsty from the chemical treatments. Do not send your strands to the desert with a flat iron trying to get perfectly straight hair. It is summertime!
Clear out your hair care arsenal and enjoy a morning free from spending hours of styling your hair.
#2 Hair Masks and Hot Oil
Once you catch any sign of chemical damage to your hair, you want to start replenishing the moisture lost back into your strands immediately.
The best way to do this is by applying a hair mask. You can purchase your favorite deep conditioner or go the DIY route. There are tons of recipes online for hair masks that will help your hair begin to retain moisture again.
Be sure to look for ingredients that are considered a humectant, which means that it naturally keeps moisture inside your hair. Honey is an excellent humectant. If you are purchasing your mask, look for water or an aqueous solution as the number one ingredient.
When water or aqueous is at the top of the ingredients list, you can be sure that the product contains a base of water and will supply your hair with the moisture and nutrients that it needs.
Oils are also a great product to add to your hair to reverse that damage caused by chemicals. Oil helps to smooth down the cuticle layer of the hair, allowing your hair to retain more moisture. Oils also add back shine and smoothness to your hair to keep it from looking dry and dull. When your oils are hot or relatively warm, the molecules of the oils are better able to penetrate through your hair shaft.
Argan, Moroccan and the ever-famous coconut oil are perfect to try to get your hair back on track.
#3 Steam Treatment
If you have never heard of a steam treatment, you need to schedule an appointment pronto!
With the rise of women taking more care of their hair, salons are contributing to the movement by having more steamers available. A steamer looks like a hooded hair dryer except, instead of air, hot steam comes out onto the hair.
The temperature of the steam is enough to open up the cuticle layer, and the steam particles can deposit water into the hair shaft. The steam treatment ensures that the hair has plenty of moisture locked in to combat dryness. Steamers give you a twenty-minute spa session with your hair.
I recommend getting a steam treatment at least once a month. You will notice a considerable difference in the health, shine, moisture content and overall beauty of your hair. Can’t make it to the salon every month? You can purchase your own tabletop steamer from Amazon. I bought mine, and it has completely revolutionized the way my hair looks and feels.
You can even use it for facials and clearing out your skin. Radiant skin and damage-free hair? Sign me up, please!
#4 Daily Hair Love
When it comes to chemically damaged hair (check out this article: best hair color for damaged hair), it is always best to start at the earliest sign of damage, dryness or brittle strands.
The most effective way to catch those pesky rouge strands is taking care of your hair daily. As you color or chemically alter your hair, check your hair for signs of damage. Again, with chemical treatments, it is typical to notice a small amount of damage; however, significant damage can be cause for alarm.
The best step it to which to a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. Sulfates can strip your hair of its natural oils and moisture-retention mechanisms leaving it drier and susceptible to damage. Shampoos and conditioners without sulfates can aid your hair with adding moisture to your strands. Much like picking out a hair mask, make sure the top ingredient of your new shampoo and conditioner is water.
With chemically damaged hair, it is important to moisturize daily. Your strands are parched and in desperate need of moisture.
By moisturizing daily, you are replenishing the moisture lost by damage, while also helping your hair rebuild its ability to retain moisture. In between your usual wash day, spritz a small amount of leave-in conditioner and add a dime-size amount of moisturizing styler to your hair.
Avoid wetting your hair every day, which ironically will do the opposite of depositing water into your strands. Especially with tap water or hard water, the minerals in the water open the cuticle layer and allow for water to escape.
Without adding a product to seal the layer, you will lose more water than you deposit. Liquid leave-in conditioners will become your best friend.
#5 Consider A Good Cut
The hard truth is that chemically damaged hair is not reversible.
Although you can do a variety of tricks to minimize the damage, sometimes the only other option is to cut your losses literally. Split ends, dry ends and straw-like texture is no way to live your best hair life. Consider going to a professional to at the very least trim your ends.
Going back to my hair color nightmare I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I eventually decided that cutting my hair was the best course of action to save my hair and begin the process of rebuilding my hair’s strength. It was after this experience that I decided to let my natural hair grow out after seeing my sister willingly big chop her hair.
I reasoned that going natural would give me a new appreciation for the way my hair naturally grows as well as minimize the number of chemicals I applied to my hair.
I am now more confident and love the hundreds of hairstyles I have pulled off since that time. Do not be afraid of change. Summer is the ideal time to try something new especially if it’s going to be for the benefit of your hair’s health.
Research a few haircuts that will compliment your face shape and fashion style. Try going to a professional stylist to see what they recommend as your best short style option.
Experiencing chemically damaged hair can be traumatic, but it does not have to stop you from expressing your best self and looking great while doing it.
Take the leap of faith! You never know the boldness and fabulous style you may uncover.
There Is Hope For Healthy Hair
Overcoming chemically damaged hair can affect the way we view ourselves, our confidence and the ability to express our best self.
I hope these tips today gave you some control back over the health of your hair. Whether you experienced a nightmare salon visit or misstepped following a YouTube tutorial, these tips and tricks will help you reduce the amount of chemical damage on your hair.
Although chemically damaged hair in itself, is irreversible, there are ways to restore and revert your hair to its former glory. If cutting your hair is the only option, consider again the opportunity to explore another style of yourself. It can be scary and saddening that you have to consider such drastic measures under unfortunate circumstances. However, your hair will grow back and be healthier than ever.
In the meantime, try a shortcut and enjoy the cool summer breeze caressing your neck. It is worth it! Have you experienced a chemically-altered hair nightmare? Share your story in the comments below.
Also, share what some additional ways that you overcame your hair woes are. We would love to hear from you! Let’s keep the conversation going in the comment section and helping others around the world have wonderfully healthy hair.
Healthy hair is happy hair!