The excessive use of chemical treatments often results in over-processed hair and hair breakage. Chemical hair treatments, designed to lift and penetrate the protective outer layer of the hair in order to change hair shape or color, begin to break down the integrity of the hair structure if they are left on for too long or used repeatedly. While the best course of action is to avoid damage in the first place, measures can be taken to minimize and repair damage after it occurs. Hair weakened to the point of breakage requires fast and serious intervention.
Comb through dry hair with a wide-toothed comb to detangle. Identify brittle, dry sections where the damage is at its worst. Determine how much hair is beyond repair by pulling lightly on individual hair strands. If hair frays or snaps under minimal pressure, it needs to be removed. Use scissors to cut your hair above the most severe damage or visit your stylist for a new cut.
Wet your hair and apply a liberal amount of a leave-in conditioner. Comb through your hair to remove tangles. Apply a deep-conditioning treatment containing protein to your hair and work it through to the ends. Cover your hair with a plastic cap and wait 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing. Repeat this protein-conditioning treatment once a week.
Apply a reparative leave-in treatment to freshly shampooed and towel-dried hair after each shampoo. Comb through your hair to remove tangles and distribute the product. Apply additional styling products and style as desired.
When choosing conditioners to use as treatments and leave-in products, look for products that contain protein. Also, look for descriptions and product names that include words such as reparative, strengthening, healing or damage repair.
If your hair is difficult to comb through when wet, allow it to to air-dry before detangling. Stop using thermal styling tools if possible. If not, turn the temperature down to the lowest setting that will get the job done.
Use a silk serum to add shine to dull, damaged hair. Color-enhanced shampoos revive faded color and add shine as well.
It may take weeks of treatment to repair your hair. Be patient, and continue treatment until you are comfortable with the results. Do not worry about overconditioning. Weekly conditioning treatments are good for your hair regardless of its condition.
Do not place weakened hair under undue stress. Avoid all chemical treatments and handle your hair with care. Avoid styles that place tension on the hair such as braids, ponytails and updos.
- Milady's Standard Cosmetology; Diane Bailey and Margrit Altenburg
Kathy Mayse began her writing career as a reporter for "The Jackson-County Times Journal" in 2001. She was promoted to assistant editor shortly after. Since 2005, she has been busy as a successful freelancer specializing in Web content. Mayse is a licensed cosmetologist with more than 17 years of salon experience; most of her writing projects reflect this experience.