Healthy hair that looks great day in and out – is that too much to ask for? No, not at all, but often we put our hair through so much in trying to get it looking gorgeous that it takes its toll. The symptoms of damaged hair can range from dullness to split ends and you’d be smart to take these as signs your hair needs some TLC. Better yet, don’t let your healthy hair get to this damaged stage in the first place. “If you don’t do anything for your hair, well, it’s not going to take care of itself,” says Rabi Bazzi, an associate stylist at Bruno Desjardins salon in Montreal.
Read on for four stressed-out tresses scenarios, and what you can do to reverse the damage and get healthy hair once again.
What’s the damage: Split ends
Damaged hair control: Your best way to handle split ends is to cut your hair as soon as you notice split ends. Even if you don’t cut it to a length where you eliminate all of the split ends, cut what you can, says Bazzi, as the longer you leave the split ends, they will become worse by traveling up the shaft of the hair.
A moisturizing masque will help in terms of preventing split ends before they start. “Clients sometimes think we are just trying to sell them product, but you have to maintain your hair’s health,” says Bazzi. He’s seen people flat iron their hair, passing the iron over the same spot 10 to 15 times, so split ends are practically a given when this is what you’re subjecting your hair to. Bazzi adds that your daily conditioner is not enough for the repairing task. “There is a greater concentration of ingredients in a masque, and the molecules tend to be smaller so they can adhere better to the cuticle,” he explains.
Your plan of attack? Twice a month, apply an overnight hair masque for your hair type (for colour-treated hair, Bazzi likes Rene Furterer Okara Overnight). After shampooing, squeeze out excess water (“you don’t want too much water in your hair to dilute the product,” he says) and apply a small amount of the masque to saturate the hair. Wrap hair in a towel and leave on overnight. Bazzi favours overnight masques given that many people will be more likely to use it given that we usually aren’t fond of showering, and then having to step into the shower again to rinse out a masque.
Banish dull frizzy hair on the next page …
What’s the damage: Dull hair
Damaged hair control: If your hair is duller than ever, it could be a buildup of product and residue causing a lack of shine.
You can restore shine by eliminating that buildup by using a clarifying shampoo. “The ingredients in it are more aggressive than in a daily shampoo,” says Bazzi. If you need to restore shine fast, he also recommends a gloss treatment with your stylist. “This is not hair colour, but rather a soft emulsion that enhances your hair’s shine without modifying the colour—so you can use it on natural or
colour-treated hair,” he says. The shiny results can last six to eight weeks (“it’ll depend on how often you shampoo, blow dry, the products you use, and so on,” he says).
What’s the damage: Fried, frizzy hair
Damaged hair control: Heat damage has made your mane a crispy, fried mess that’s dull. You can tell if it’s dull due to heat damage rather than residue buildup by testing a strand. If your hair is over-processed, the strand will snap quickly due to the loss of elasticity. (If it stretches a little before snapping, then it’s more likely residue buildup causing the dullness.)
As with the problem of split ends, your overprocessed hair is crying out for moisture—so follow the same steps of using a moisturizing hair masque every couple of weeks as you would for split ends. Avoid using your heat styling tools as often (try to incorporate a dry shampoo such as Cake Beauty Dry Shampoo Powder every other day rather than blow drying and flat ironing daily, for example). A hair oil (try Wella Professionals Oil Reflections) can also help heal your zapped-of-hydration hair while also adding shine without weighing it down.
What’s the damage: Over-coloured, dull hair
Damaged hair control: No matter what colour you use, your hair can’t shake a dull appearance. The dire straits your hair is in is thanks to colouring your hair too often, so much so that your hair can’t absorb colour anymore, explains Bazzi.
Your best bet is to cut your hair, and, of course, stop colouring it. A gloss treatment won’t help as your hair at this point as the cuticle won’t absorb the product.
Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in this damaged hair scenario. To avoid getting to this state, when you colour your hair, don’t apply colour to all of your hair, just to the roots or wherever you need the colour, says Bazzi.
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.