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The best way to treat heat damaged hair is to prevent it from happening. However, you might not know that your hair is being damaged by heat until it's too late. Though heat damage is irreversible, all hope is not lost. There are several damaged hair treatment options to consider.
Heat damaged hair occurs when the hair cuticles are broken. The cuticles are the outer layers of each strand of hair, and they're made up of proteins that form shingles, like a roof. These shingles overlap to keep strands moisturized and protected.
Damage causes these shingles to become raised, exposing the inner layer of the hair – the cortex. When this happens, your hair becomes dehydrated. When the cortex is damaged, it becomes highly porous, so it will no longer retain any moisture.
Your hair will look dull. It will feel brittle, coarse, and ragged. If you have curly hair, your curls might lose their natural bounce. Straight hair loses sleekness. You'll also notice split ends and flyaways where the hair has broken off. Your color might also look faded, whether it's natural or dyed, and your hair might have knots or tangles.
Once you're aware that your hair has been damaged by heat, you'll want to start taking the following steps to prevent further damage.
The most dramatic heat damaged hair treatment option is cutting your hair. This is the only way to “undo” damage because you're removing hair that has split ends, hair that's broken, and hair that's been weakened by the use of hot tools. Depending on how extensive the damage is, you might need to cut off quite a few inches.
If you aren't ready for a complete haircut, you'll want to schedule regular hair trims. The ends of your hair are the most damaged because they've been heated and styled for the longest period of time. Getting regular trims removes split ends, which prevents them from splitting further and creating more damage higher up the strands. This allows you to keep your hair the length it is or grow it out while managing the heat damage. Removing the damaged ends also helps your hair feel softer and less tangled.
Once you know that you're dealing with heat damaged hair, it's time to switch to products that are free from sulfates and parabens and made specifically for damaged hair. Damaged hair shampoos, conditioners, and leave-in conditioners add moisture back to your hair and help to rebuild the broken protein bonds. If you typically wash your hair every day, consider going a little longer between washes to allow some of the natural oils to build up and create a protective barrier around your hair.
Your hair is most vulnerable when it's wet, so handling wet hair with care is crucial. Consider swapping your regular hair towel for a microfiber one or a t-shirt, and blot your hair rather than rub to get the excess water out. Instead of brushing wet hair, use a wide-tooth comb and try not to tug, especially when you reach a knot or tangle. If you have very tangled hair, you could apply a detangler before combing.
Heat damaged hair has become severely dehydrated because the moisture is stripped from your hair each time you use a blow dryer, flat iron, or curling iron at a high heat setting. You can help rehydrate your hair with a moisturizing hair mask. Apply the hair mask once or twice a week, and allow it to sit for at least 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing. You can also apply a hair mask and night and sleep with it, then rinse it out in the morning.
Coloring your hair involves a chemical process that can further the damage that's already present. You'll want to avoid exacerbating the issue, so it's helpful to hold off on hair dye until your tresses are in a healthier state. You can speak with your hairstylist to determine if you should temporarily pause coloring.
If you tend to wear your hair up in a ponytail or bun frequently, now is the time to switch from traditional rubber-band-like hair ties to more gentle ones like scrunchies. You may also want to try a looser style like a braid rather than a top knot as pulling your hair up puts strain on your strands.
Continuing to use your hot tools on a regular basis can further the damage done to your hair. Whenever possible, try letting your hair air dry after showering and go for a natural look. This can be a great option even if you do it once or twice a week to give your hair a break from the heat.
One of the most important heat damaged hair treatments you can use for your hair is a heat protectant. These come in a variety of forms including sprays and creams. They create a barrier between your hair and the hot tools, so you can blow dry and style your hair with less worry about incurring more damage. Heat protectants can be applied to dry or wet hair.
Not all hot tools are created the same. It's helpful to understand the technology used by your machines to ensure that you're not doing further damage to your hair as you dry, curl, or straighten. Supersonic, for example, offers Air Multiplier™ technology, which amplifies air flow by three times, creating a high-pressure, high-velocity air jet angled at 20° to deliver more precise drying and styling without the worry of damage.
If you go longer between washes, you might touch up your hairstyle with your curling iron or flat iron but try to avoid styling dirty hair. Many styling products, such as dry shampoos, styling waxes, and texturizing sprays, have ingredients that don't work well with heat and can lead to more damage. When your damaged hair from heat needs a style refresh, wash and condition it first so it's fresh and ready.
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