+ Hairstyles, + Makeup

How to Care for Damaged Hair, a Tutorial

Summer can be hell on your hair.  The sunshine bleaches it out.  The humidity makes it frizz.  And the seawater and chlorine destroy anything that was left unharmed.  So what do you do to protect and heal your damaged tresses?

Stop using Velcro rollers.  I used to use Velcro rollers until a hairdresser who styles for film and television told me how they damage the hair.  Apparently the little teeth that hold them in place destroy the hair cuticle, especially on color treated hair.  Removing the rollers leaves the ends shredded and the hair brittle. 

The solution? If you’re going to give up Velcro rollers, you have two choices: You can disassemble the roller and use just the bare plastic form and a flat clip to hold it in place or you can switch to heated rollers.

I recommend the latter.

Go Au Naturel.  If your ends are whipped into a frenzy and your follicles feel like straw, it’s time to give them a break.  No more coloring.  No more perms.  And for the love of God, no more highlights. 

I know, the prospect of having roots is absolutely terrifying (Miss M is having a pitch fit right now, I can feel it).  But when your hair needs a rest, it needs a rest.  So give your hairdresser a vacation.

Condition, Condition, Condition.  Technically, you can’t repair split ends.  But if you condition well and treat your strands with TLC, you can strengthen the cuticle, prevent future breakage and smooth down the damage.  All of this will help you survive until you’re ready to go in and lop off the broken bits. 

There are many products that I like for this.  I think Ojon Restorative treatment is great is you want to splurge.  If not, V05 Recovery Now! is a great product.  And here’s a tip, you would be shocked how much better the product works if you apply it in the shower and then throw on a shower cap.  Something about the heat trapped under the plastic cap.

For daily use, you need to invest in a better conditioner and shampoo that is sulfate free.  I recommend L’Oreal EverStrong shampoo and Nexxus Humectress conditioner.

If you have fine hair, and you don’t want to over condition on a daily basis, use your daily conditioner and then apply a light spritz of leave-in conditioner before you blow-dry.  I like Moroccan Oil, but you can also use Infusium Leave In Spray if you want a cheaper alternative. 

Take a Day Off.  If you’re trying to heal your hair, you need to let it rest.  Besides chemical treatments, you need to give your hair some time off from heat treatments like blow-drying and curling.  So buy a dry shampoo (I’m still in love with Pssst.), and switch your wash and blow-dry to every other day. 

Heal From the Inside.  Fish oil, milk and pre-natal vitamins.  That is the recipe that a doctor gave me for healing my hair and growing it longer.  But I am not qualified to give medical advice, so ask your doctor before you start taking any vitamins of supplements.  This is just what works for me.

Protect Your Color.  Just like the skin, your hair is susceptible to sun damage.  Wear sunscreen, that’s right, sunscreen.  Kerastase makes Soleil Micro Voile Protector, but it’s a bit pricey.  Banana Boat makes something similar, but I can’t vouch for its quality.  Not only will this prevent future damage, it will also protect your very expensive dye job.

Also, if you’re hair is damaged from heat, processing or environmental exposure, your hair color needs extra help.  Kerastase Chroma Fluide will help smooth the strands and return the color to its original gloss and tint.

Be Prepared to Cut.  If your hair is truly damaged, eventually, you will need to cut it.  Using these steps, I can usually stave off a cut for two to three months.  But if the ends are fried, they will eventually need to be cut off. 

If you can’t wait that long or you’re afraid that you’ll lose more than two inches, I suggest you do it in stages.  Go in immediately and have one inch cut off.  Then go back next month and lose another, all the while treating your locks with kid gloves.  Eventually, you will have the glossy head of hair you always wanted.

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  1. K says:

    What a timely post, I was just about to write in a question about this! Thanks Belle!

    July 7, 2011/Reply
  2. Michelle says:

    I have also heard that olive oil to the scalp once a week is a good way to increase hair growth and strength. My sister in-law swears by it!

    July 7, 2011/Reply
  3. Belle says:


    I read on the Elle site that the man who did Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's makeup for Transformers massaged a scented oil into her scalp. I think the massage is the key factor cause it stimulates growth.

    July 7, 2011/Reply
  4. Angela says:

    I've been using olive oil lotion on my hair for a few years now and it has definitely made an impact on my hair. The one that I see most often in stores is the Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion which is fine. I prefer BioInfusion Olive Oil Lotion (Walgreens), it smells nicer. And some people just put straight olive oil in their hair, which I haven't been able to commit to!

    July 7, 2011/Reply
  5. Angela says:

    Oops! One thing I forgot to mention… If you're going to use a restorative treatment or hydrating masque in your hair, definitely use a shower cap and rinse with cold water if you can. If you rinse with hot water, it opens up the cuticle and the product can rinse out again.

    July 7, 2011/Reply
  6. JCL says:

    Belle- Thanks for a very informative and timely post! I am going to try some of these products out this weekend.

    July 8, 2011/Reply