Restoring Damaged Hair
At one point or another in our natural hair journey all of us will have to deal with damaged hair. It is inevitable that all of us will sustain a little damage to our hair even if we are very careful and have a super tight hare care routine.
In this blog posts I want to look at the reason’s why our hair may sustain damage, the different types of damage we need to look out for and how to minimise and manage any damage we may have sustained on our hair care journey. I think the first place to start is having a look at the structure of our hair which will gave us an understanding of how fragile it can be and why.
**Disclaimer: I am not a hair care professional. All my posts are based on personal experience, preference and things I have learnt from reading and researching. If you have serious concerns about your hair please consult a qualified professional**
Our Fragile Hair
Our hair is made up of 3 layers with the cuticle protecting the inner layers of hair. The cuticle can be likened to scales or roof tiles in that they overlap each other and allow water & products to pass through the hair when raised. Over time the cuticle becomes worn down due to general wear and tear as well as the different process we put our hair through, so care is needed to maintain the health and integrity of our hair. Curly hair is also prone to more damaged because every point at which the hair bends and curves represents a point of weakness in the hair.
What are some of the signs of damaged hair?
Signs Of Damaged Hair Include:
- Split ends
- Hair feels limp & weak
- Lack of shine
- Change in texture
- Change in elasticity
- Curls stop forming/clumping
- Hair loss
What Causes Damage To Our Hair?
There are various processes and external factors that cause damage to our hair, let’s take a deeper look at what some of them are.
General Wear and Tear
Our hair goes through normal ‘wear and tear’ that occurs from our regular hair routines. General wear and tear can include your hair snagging on jewellery or clothes fastening, breakage from your winter coat or dryness from cold hair.
Managing Wear And Tear
Although wear and tear is inevitable there are ways you can minimise the damage caused:
- Use protective styling
- Use hats lined with satin or silk to protect your hair from the elements
- Implement a good night-time hair care routine
- Deep condition
- Trim your hair regularly
- Protein treatment when needed
- Develop a robust hair care routine
Mechanical damage refers to the damage that occurs due to improper handling of your hair. Improper handling can include over manipulation, a bad detangling technique, brushing or combing the hair roughly, and tension bred from braids, tight ponytails and hair weaves.
Mechanical damage can cause thinning edges, knots and tangles, mid-shaft splits, excessive splitting and breakage but there are ways to minimise the damage caused by mechanical damage.
Managing Mechanical Damage
- Be gentle with your hair
- Use a detangling cream or spray to detangle your hair
- Finger detangle and finger comb your hair
- Use a wide tooth comb
- Ensure braids are not too tightly installed
- Give your hair a break in-between braids
- Don’t pull hair too tightly into a ponytail
Chemicals like relaxers and texturizers are one of the major sources of hair damage. Relaxers straighten the hair by breaking down the protein bonds that make up the cortex layer of your hair. In order to reach the cortex the relaxer must first penetrate the cuticle.
This can result is dry, thinning and brittle hair that is prone to breakage and sustains damaged more easily. There are however, steps you can take to minimise the damaged caused to your hair by a relaxer.
Managing Relaxed Hair
- Ditch the relaxers and embrace your natural curls.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when relaxing your hair.
- Ensure that your scalp is healthy before using a relaxer. Tend to any scalp conditions you may have or any issues with dandruff before using a relaxer on your hair.
- Never use a relaxer on freshly washed hair-the natural oils our scalp produce help to protect your scalp from damage, so should be present when using a relaxer.
- Avoid relaxer contact with your scalp as this can cause scalp irritation. You may want to consider applying a protective layer to your scalp to protect it from the relaxer.
- After relaxing your hair ensure you use a moisturizing shampoo or co-wash. This will help to replenish moisture and look after your straightened hair.
- Follow a healthy hair care routine to maintain the condition of your hair
Colouring your hair can be a major source of hair damage. Applying dye or bleach to your hair causes a chemical reaction in which the protective protein bonds are lifted allowing the dye to penetrate the hair strand and alter the colour.
The Side Effects Of Dying Your Hair Can Include:
- Loss of hair strength
- Reduced hair thickness
- Dryer hair
- Hair’s ability to withstand heat
Managing Dyed Hair
- Use dyes that have conditioning agents
- Limit heat styling
- Apply a heat protectant when using heat
- Allow a good time to pass between hair dying appointments
- Use moisturizing shampoos & conditioners
- Deep condition
- Use products specifically designed to care for coloured hair
- Consider dying your hair closer to its natural shade
Using heat to dry and style your hair can create some great styles, however excessive use of heat on your curls can result in damaged hair. Using a high level of heat on your hair or applying heat for too long can effect the integrity of your hair causing the curl pattern to be lost and leaving the hair limp and lifeless. In severe cases hair can be singed, break off and even fall out.
Managing Heat Damage
- Reduce the amount of times you use direct heat on your hair
- Use appliances on a lower level of heat
- Deep condition your hair to strengthen and moisturize each strand before using heat on it
- Use a heat protectant when using direct heat on your hair
- Stop using direct heat on your hair
Dealing With Permanent Damage
While there are different ways to help minimise the damage caused to our curls by the different processes we put it through, ultimate if we find that our hair is damaged, we need to cut off the damaged part of the hair as it is not possible to reverse damage once it has been sustained.
If damaged hair is left on the hair shaft it could ultimately cause more damage to the rest of the shaft resulting in your having to cut off more of your hair.
Regularly trimming your hair is a great way to keep any damage in check and prevent further damage from taking place.
If you find that the damage to your hair is too vast you may decide to opt for a big chop.
The best way to avoid and minimise damage to your hair is to look after it!
Create a robust hair care routine that will enable your hair to thrive, this in turn will help to minimise the damage sustained to your hair and keep it looking and feeling healthy and strong.
I’d love to hear about your experience of damaged hair and how your have managed it, please share your story in the comments below.
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