Color treatments have expanded to include so many shades of the rainbow, and it's hard not to want to try them all. Over-processing hair can cause serious damage over time, though, if hair isn't properly cared for between color treatments. For damaged hair to be able to hold color again, it must first rebuild hair proteins and moisture. Salon and at-home treatments may replenish locks in just one treatment, but highly over-processed strands could take as much as twice-weekly treatments for up to two or three months for full recovery.
Know the Type of Damage
There are three types of damaged hair: dry, weak and porous. Dry hair is often brittle and may suffer breaks. Correct it by conditioning your hair often and thoroughly. Weak hair is well-conditioned, yet still breaks due to hair-cortex damage. Turn to protein treatments for help repairing the follicle structure. Finally, locks that quickly take on hair color but fade fast and show a tendency toward frizzing along with an inability to hold moisture are symptomatic of porous hair damage. Leave-in conditioners, smoothing serums or creams and a porosity equalizing product can help.
Consult an Expert Colorist
The first step to restoring over-processed hair in order to re-color is to talk with a stylist and expert colorist at the salon. Professionals can best assess what is wrong with your hair, apart from over-coloring, and how to resolve the issue. Trimming ends regularly will help return hair to its former state because it prevents split ends from continuing up the hair shaft. Consider cutting hair into a new style. This will better incorporate damaged strands with healthier hair as well as blend in troubled locks.
Restore at Home
There are several options to help move along the at-home recovery process for hair. The first and most obvious is to return moisture into each follicle. Three times per week, incorporate a deep conditioning treatment into the care routine after shampooing. Deep conditioning hair masks can lock in moisture while leave-in conditioners keep moisture in place around the clock.
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Invest in a quality sulfate-free shampoo formulated for color-treated hair. To avoid further drying and stripping of natural oils, do not wash hair daily. Locks can, however, be rinsed with water and conditioner between shampoos.
Additional tips for preserving hair and nursing brittle strands back to a strong, lustrous state include gently using a wide-toothed comb rather than a brush. This removes tangles without pulling out hairs. Steer clear of styling with heat as much as possible. Heat from hairdryers and straighteners further damages and breaks hair by removing moisture. Attempt to allow at least two weeks for natural hair proteins to rebuild before bleaching or coloring again.
Molly is a freelance journalist and social media consultant. In addition to Leaf.tv, Molly has written for Teen Vogue and Paste magazine. She is the former assistant editor of the Design and Style section of Paste magazine. View her work at www.mmollyharris.com.