Do you constantly struggle with split ends, breakage and other damage to your hair that just doesn’t seem to stop? It can be frustrating (and expensive) to try product after product and nothing seems to work.
Do not worry anymore ! Shop TODAY spoke to a few hairstylists about the causes of damaged hair, what you should (and shouldn’t) do or use, and how to keep your hair as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
What causes damaged hair?
Los Angeles-based hairstylist Lauren Clark started by noting that damage can occur at different levels for different hair textures. As someone with coarser, textured hair, she says her threshold for things that can potentially cause damage is higher than someone else with fine hair.
“[Fine hair] can’t take a lot of wear and tear,” she added. While she and Lita both say regular hair dye won’t cause as much damage as people think, Clark specifically called out highlighting thinner braids as the cause of breakage.
Traveling hairstylist Rachel Lita also called bleaching your hair a common cause of breakage, but added overexposure to the sun to her list of culprits.
“There are sprays that are like sunscreen for hair because just like how your skin can get burned, so does your hair,” she said.
Both Clark and Lita have also reported damage from using heat styling products. Temperature is important and Lita says damage can occur if the tools are too hot and/or if you don’t use a proper heat protector. If you have fine hair, Clark suggests avoiding blow-drying or heat styling often, limiting it to about once a week.
The two stylists also discussed lifestyle choices that can damage hair. Clark mentioned that brushing your hair too much can be a source of damage. Lita, meanwhile, said damage can occur if your hair is too tight or even if you wear hats too often, as it can inhibit your scalp’s ability to breathe.
What does damaged hair look like?
Lita and Clark shared the following as common physical signs of damaged hair:
- Split ends
- Changes in texture (for example, hair going from soft to the touch to more straw-like and hard)
- Inconsistent loop patterns
- Hair thinning
- Losing length after continuous updates due to hair loss
Ingredients to avoid if you have damaged hair
Clark advises avoiding any product containing an ingredient with the “-cone” suffix as this indicates that it is a silicone-based ingredient. Although she says you can find dimethicone in many products and that it is a good ingredient for taming surface frizz, it is actually not beneficial for hair health.
“It basically coats the hair cuticle and prevents water from entering, so your hair becomes brittle. If you use these products over and over and over again, it makes your hair drier,” she said.
Lita recommends avoiding coconut oil, calling it “extremely drying.” If you want to use an oil in your hair, she suggests using olive or almond oil instead. She also says that shampoos that contain dye to hold color can be “extremely drying and unsafe for color.” Instead, she suggests putting dye in your conditioner and applying it that way.
Tips to avoid and manage damaged hair
Lita and Clark have offered some tips to help you avoid (or manage) damaged hair.
First, let your hair exist as it is, suggests Clark. If you spend the day (or a few days) at home, don’t touch it. Don’t brush it out or put it in a tight style (a tip Lita echoed). If you have to go to work, she suggests washing it with a conditioning treatment and bunning it with a silk scrunchie for the week. Or, if you want to iron it flat, only apply heat on working days and keep your hot tools unplugged on weekends.
“The less you brush, the less you touch, the less you move your hair, the more it will grow,” she said.
If you must brush your hair, brush with a purpose.
“If you brush it out before you shampoo because you want to get the knots out, that’s fine,” Clark said. “But brushing your hair blindly and mindlessly throughout the day is one of the worst things you can do to your hair.”
She also said that if you hear popping noises while brushing, that’s probably a good indication that you should either brush a little more gently (or not at all) or you might need a haircut. This, as she mentioned, depends on the texture of the hair.
“With thinner hair, this might be more of a concern than it typically would be with thicker hair,” she added.
Regardless of your hair type, Lita recommends getting regular trims every six to eight and using a silk pillowcase to reduce damage.
“When you have cotton sheets, the way cotton is woven, your hair can get caught between the weave and it pulls on it. When you sleep, you toss and turn. Your hair can get caught. [and] intertwined in the fibers,” she said. “You twist, you pull too hard, you pull out a few hairs at a time. Depending on the cotton, it can be a little rougher. Whereas silk, it just slips. There are no holes in it. And if there are, they’re tiny.”
Finally, both stylists encourage you to invest in “good” products that will give you the best results. Clark is a self-proclaimed “big advocate for buying professional-grade products.” She acknowledged that everyone’s budget and lifestyle are different but, if you can afford it, it’s worth investing in high-end hair products on a regular basis and says it can be as simple as looking the professional hair section at Ulta. If you can’t afford to spend a lot of money consistently on high-end products, she suggests investing in it at least once and using it on a rotational basis with the products of your choice to get the most out of it. best party.
The best products for damaged hair, according to stylists
Kitschy Satin Sleep Scrunchies
Lita loves these sweet Kitsch scrunchies. This set of five scrunchies also comes in other colors and packs with different combinations.
Zimasilk silk pillowcase
Lita also emphasized the importance of using silk pillowcases for sleeping. This option from Amazon is available in 40 colors and has over 28,000 verified five-star ratings. One reviewer said it helped them reduce breakage and held up well to multiple washes.
Amika The Kure Intense Repair Mask
Lita used this hair mask herself after suffering damage and said it helped bring her hair back to life.
“With the masks it’s a temporary solution, but what I really like about Amika’s is that I feel like even if I don’t use it…it keeps your soft hair for weeks,” she said. “I feel like it’s doing what it’s supposed to do rather than just being a silicone coating on your hair for a temporary fix.”
Leonor Greyl The Oil of Leonor Greyl
Clark called this pre-shampoo hair oil her top recommended product and said it’s the one she uses on herself regularly. When it arrives, the oil is hardened in the bottle, so run it under warm water to liquefy the oil, she warned. She likes to leave it in her hair for a few days before washing it out and says magnolia oil has a lovely scent.
dpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
Clark loves this apple cider vinegar hair rinse from dpHue that can be used in place of shampoo.
“[The owner, Justin Anderson’s] the whole thing is that you don’t have to shampoo all the time. You have to use something softer,” she said.
dpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub
Clark also loves this Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub from dpHue which is made with pink Himalayan sea salt. She personally uses it to manage dandruff and says the scrub does a great job.
Vegamour GRO Revitalizing Shampoo and Conditioner Kit
Clark loves Vegamour because it’s “totally vegan, plant-based, and organic,” she said. Introduced to the brand by her grandmother, she said she loves the focus on rebuilding the strength and health of hair and scalp.
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