Preventing Damage and Maintaining Healthy Hair
Updated: Mar 16
One of the most commonly asked questions when a client is in my chair is, “why does my hair look unhealthy, broken, and damaged?” The answer can be one of many. I'm going to break down a whole list of things that could be causing it, how to fix the damage, and how to prevent it!
Identifying the damage
When I see actual breakage, which is different from a split end, I see a clear disconnect that looks shorter (not a layer) and has a frizzled appearance. This can be caused by a few different things:
First, and most common is the ponytail (gasp)! It is always a clear sign of ponytail breakage when the hair underneath is shorter than the rest. There are often shorter pieces in the crown and around the face. The main offenders here are the kind of hair tie you’re using and if you’re removing that hair tie aggressively. I like to use the analogy of when you take your shoes off. You take time to untie them before just ripping them off. If you don’t, you get a tight knot you can't get out, which ends up taking longer anyway. Same with your ponytail, except your annoying knot will be unhealthy broken hair!
Second, if you highlight your hair, no matter what your stylist does, the integrity is compromised. This means you have to be extra careful, because the likelihood of damage is ten times that of unprocessed hair.
Sidenote, hair is most fragile when it’s wet. When any hair (processed or not) is wet, the elasticity is completely different. That is why ripping through wet hair with a brush is bad. Same with tying it back when it is wet. If you must tie it back when wet, do so with a braid, use a bun, or bobby pins.
Third, sunglasses are a major culprit of front breakage, which is a completely different entity than the rest of your hair. It's already more fragile, and of course, where everyone likes to be the brightest! When you use your sunglasses as a headband, especially the ones with nose pads, you take them off with a small pull. At that time it seems like no big deal, because it was only a few hairs. But, over time you discover that you have baby bangs and can't figure out why. Here’s what you should do instead: use your shirt to hang them or slide them in your purse.
If we are going to take a step further into preventive measures, stop asking your stylist to brighten the front of your hair so much. Be especially cautious if there isn’t a ton of new growth, because even the best colorist will overlap bleach on that already delicate hair and then bim bam boom...snap!
Step up your hair care
For our whole lives we have gotten out of the shower, flipped our heads over, and stuffed our hair into a towel turban. Guess what? This is actually terrible, not only for the health of your hair, but for the frizz factor. Cotton towels are quite abrasive and easily frizz the hair. If you have fine hair or very curly hair, this frizz can cause the appearance of damage, and actually damage it.
Here’s what I recommend to remedy this problem: get as much moisture out as you can in the shower. I sell a towel turban by Isles Formula that is made from microfiber instead of thick cotton. You will not only reduce frizz and damage but the towel turban will absorb moisture much better, so your drying time is shortened. Once you take that off, if you have tangly hair, use the Oribe detangler or R&Co Pinstripe detangler along with a wide tooth comb or wet brush. Do this before putting in whatever product goes with the styling you are going to do next. If you have curly hair, the less movement the better. Comb or scrunch in your product and let it do its thing! If you are going to blow dry or iron, always use a heat protectant first. If you saw my toast post on social media, you know just how much this actually works! So many of the products have it in there, but if you are re-curling or flat ironing your hair later that day, or the next day, then it really does help to have one just to guard it from the heat.
Just like our bodies, we should be doing moisturizing and detoxifying masks on our hair. You should also use a clarifying shampoo in your shower as well as moisture mask. There are natural minerals in our water that can not only affect the color, but cause your hair to feel more fragile. Removing that, and then nourishing it with something heavy duty, will not only freshen your highlights but your hair will be saying, “thank you.”
I’m sure many of you have heard that healthy hair comes from a healthy scalp. This is so true! What is causing damaged hair can be an internal issue. I can tell when a client's hair texture has dramatically changed. Things that cause this are: hormonal changes, stress, medication changes, dramatic weight loss, sickness, thyroid issues, and lack of vitamins. One of the major vitamins we lack, especially if you're a midwesterner, is Vitamin D. This is the source of a lot of health problems. Consider taking a daily Vitamin D supplement, but be sure to consult your doctor, because you can also take too much. Another supplement to add to your routine is collagen. If you are vegetarian, like myself, there are plant based collagens available. And, if you still can't figure out what is the matter once you have checked all these boxes, I would suggest asking your primary care doctor to order some lab work to see what you might be lacking.
Another little tip on a healthy scalp, is not to shower with scalding hot water. If you do have to, always rinse your head and body in cool water.
Blow drying 101
How you blow dry your hair, makes a huge difference in the appearance of healthier hair. If you think of a hair shaft like roof shingles, they need the heat to be directed down for the shingles to be smoothed down. Just like when you flat iron, how it looks shiny and smooth. It is the same with blow drying. If you just flip your head upside down, you’re going to make yourself look like you have gone through a wind tunnel! This causes the little “shingles” to all be raised up causing no light reflection. Your hair looks dry and damaged, when it really just needs a little more patience and TLC. A nozzle on the end of your blow dryer plays a major part in assisting in smoothness as well as providing less heat damage. This is because there is a good space between the heat source and the hair your blow drying.
If you have strong, coarse hair, a ceramic brush helps to smooth the hair, but if you feel like your hair damages easily, use a more natural bristle. Using a vent brush is not only gentle on the hair but good for your scalp. It helps exfoliate it and bring blood circulation to it.
To sum it up
Be gentle and put the time and money into using the correct products for your hair. You can spend $300 on a full head of highlights, God knows what you can spend on Botox and skincare. So, let’s invest in the right tools and products to give our hair the health it deserves!