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The Cut Down: 3 Types of Damaged Hair and How to Repair Each

June 10, 2021

3 Min read

The Cut Down is a series where Prose Director of Education and veteran stylist Faith Huffnagle breaks down some of your most burning hair questions. This month she’s tackling damaged hair and how to repair yours based on the type of damage you’re dealing with. 

Although there are a few different factors that cause damaged hair, the tell tale signs of damage stay consistentUnwanted frizz, split ends, hair thinning (especially towards the bottom) and unevenness throughout the hair. But when a big chop isn’t an option, it’s important to identify the cause of damage so that you can understand how to treat it before it’s too late.

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1. Heat damage

What causes heat damage?

Heat styling should be done sparingly to maintain the integrity of your hair. Realistically, any form of heat can damage hair (yes, even if you only straighten your hair once a year.) This includes blow drying, flat ironing, curling, and even too much sun exposure. Anything hotter than 365°F will burn the hair indefinitely no matter what your texture is, so choosing tools that come with a temperature dial is the best way to control the amount of heat that comes in contact with your hair.

How to repair heat damage:

  • Reduce or eliminate applying  heat on previously damaged areas
  • incorporate a weekly deep conditioning routine
  • Trim damaged hair every six weeks until hair grows out
  • Prep hair with a heat protectant each time before styling

2. Chemical damage

What causes chemical damage?

When permanent color and other chemical processes are applied to the hair, it can cause irreversible damage if not done correctly. This includes highlights, permanent hair color, relaxers and perms. Before having a chemical service done it’s important to consider the condition of your hair pre-treatment— it should have good elasticity, proper hydration, and an even porosity. Once hair has been processed you may notice a change in the way it feels and behaves in different environmental conditions, such as humidity.

How to repair chemical damage:

  • Use sulfate-free shampoo to cleanse hair
  • Add more time in between appointments (ie, highlights every six months vs. every two months)
  • Reduce heat exposure to damaged ends
  • Incorporate weekly deep conditioning treatments into your routine

3. Physical damage

What causes physical damage?

Physical damage can compromise the outer cuticle layer of the hair. Friction from the wrong styling tools, sleeping on harsh fabrics, and rough brushing can all contribute to small rips and tears along the hair shaft. Once split, hair can continue to tear upwards if not trimmed regularly. When this type of damage occurs, hair that was once shiny can appear dull, frizzy, and feel dry.

How to repair physical damage:

  • Use soft hair elastics for braids or ponytails instead of tight rubber bands
  • Deep condition with hair oil or use as an overnight treatment
  • Use a leave-in conditioner when detangling with a brush  
  • Trim split ends every 6-8 weeks until damage grows out

In truth, the fastest way to eliminate damage is by simply getting a haircut. But, armed with the right information on the type of hair damage you have and adjusting your routine accordingly, it is possible to strengthen your hair as it continues to grow.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Faith is a NYS licensed cosmetologist with over 15 years in beauty. Starting her career as a master colorist, Faith spent years expanding her skills to include styling, editorial, blogging + media, along with working under some of the top names in beauty and fashion, such as Patricia Field and Rachel Zoe. By 2015, she stepped from behind the chair into salon management & education – always leading from the viewpoint of the stylist. This unique transition launched her into working with beauty start-ups as an industry expert to strategize their brands. Prior to her position at Prose, Faith worked alongside celebrity stylist Jen Atkin as Sales and Education specialist at OUAI haircare.

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