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Hair is a form of personal expression. We can choose our color, our cut, straight or curly, long or short. When these choices conflict with our hair's natural tendencies though, they often come with consequences. These consequences include split ends, brittle strands, dull coloring, and dry hair. That doesn't mean we can't still make our hair our own, though. These treatments for dry, damaged hair mean that women (and men) everywhere can continue manipulating and maneuvering their hair however they like.
Damage-Healing Shampoo and Conditioner
When your hair feels dry, brittle, and otherwise unpleasant, the first thing to do is make sure you're using shampoo and conditioner that are designed to be treatments for dry, damaged hair. Avoid products with harsh chemicals like parabens, sodium chloride (salt is often used to thicken hair products, but why dry your hair?), and alcohols. Instead, look for moisturizing, strengthening products and chemicals such as oils and keratin, two of the key ingredients in any healthy hair product. Even if your hair is relatively healthy at the moment, you should always be using natural strengthening products in order to prevent damaging practices from taking their toll down the road.
Another basic component of hair recovery is deep conditioning. You can purchase products designed especially for this purpose, or you can just use your own (preferably all-natural) conditioner. Just shower in the evening, but carefully coat your hair in conditioner and do not rinse. Then, tease apart any tangles with a wide-toothed comb or your fingers, and let the conditioner sit for a few hours at least. If you'd like to leave it overnight, just put it up in a shower cap while you sleep, and rinse thoroughly in the morning. This will have an immediate reparative effect on the damaged hair cuticles, which are responsible for the rapid drying and brittleness that occurs from damaging practices, chemicals, and heat.
Avoiding the Sun
The usual culprits of hair damage are blow dryers, straighteners, and chemicals such as hair dye and bleach. Another significant risk to your hair health though—especially for bleached hair—is the sun. So when you're going to be exposed to direct sunlight, keep your hair in mind. You can cover it with a hat or scarf to protect it, or invest in a UV protection spray, which will prevent the sun from damaging and drying it. You should also remember to thoroughly wash and condition your hair after a day in the water, whether to wash out pool chemicals such as chlorine, or ocean salt. These chemicals, especially in conjunction with sun damage, can have an immediate detrimental effect on your hair.
The best treatment for dry, damaged hair is to stop damaging it. Many hair products can alleviate the effects of unnatural manipulation of your hair, but for the most serious cases, the best thing to do is to take some time away from the straighteners, blow dryers, hair color, and other damaging factors. Give your hair a break, and treat it further with strengthening conditioners, oil treatments, and hair masks, and let your locks recover before you put it through any more trials. By periodically abstaining from heat and chemical treatments, you'll leave your hair in a much better position to weather those damaging factors, allowing you to have your cake and eat it, too.
Oil-Based Hair Masks
For bad hair damage, oil treatments are the way to go. There are a million products that will re-moisturize and strengthen your hair. Just look for all-natural products that work with essential oils. Some of the healthiest hair remedies come from nature, and the best bases for a hair mask are coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, and other products that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Most of these store-bought treatments simply require you to coat your hair, leave it for a brief period of time, and rinse it thoroughly. Directly applying these products, or a homemade recipe involving them, will help heal your hair and add a good dose of shine and bounce to previously drooping locks.
If your other hair masks for damaged hair aren't working out for you, one of the most under-the-radar treatments for dry, brittle hair is beer. Even on its own, flat beer as a hair rinse can add a little extra body and shine to dry hair. To get the most out of this DIY hair mask, you can mix a number of different ingredients in with the beer. Just make sure you choose a hoppy, all-natural beer and leave it uncapped for 12 hours or so, to make sure all carbonation is gone.
Once your beer is sufficiently flat, you can make a quick and easy rinse or mask by adding a tablespoon or two of your favorite oil, such as coconut, olive oil, or your favorite essential oil. Alternatively, you can make a potassium-rich, texture-reviving hair mask by mashing a banana and mixing it together with your beer and a tablespoon of honey.
If limiting your heat- and chemical-based hair procedures still leaves your hair wanting, you may want to consider the possibility that some of your damage is due to brushing and styling. Here are a few tips for preventing damage, so you have to use these treatments for dry, damaged hair less often:
- First, limit how much you brush your hair. In order to deal with tangles, use a wide-toothed comb on wet hair, and let it dry naturally. Running a brush repeatedly through wet (or dry) hair can be very damaging, so you should do it as little as possible.
- Secondly, you should change your hairstyle up whenever possible, especially if you're used to wearing it up. Tight ponytails and buns can leave sections of severely damaged hair, as well as causing headaches and scalp problems. Changing where on your head you tie your hair off, and leaving it down some days, will prevent some of this damage.
An additional ingredient to many successful DIY hair masks is a dairy base. Adding your preferred oils to a base of milk, yogurt, or egg whites gives you the base for a very rejuvenating, easy-to-make hair treatment. Yogurt in particular is a great, all-natural, nutrient-rich substitute for conditioner, and will help you deal with any tangles or tangle-prone areas. You can also add a bit of lemon juice to the mix and apply it to damp hair for more even results. Applying your products to damp hair will also help you rinse it out more easily when that time comes.
Another very basic treatment for dry, damaged hair is simply to wash less. Your hair produces natural oils that protect it from damage, but these oils are harshly stripped away by most shampoos and conditioners. Allow your hair to protect itself by cutting back on how often you wash. This will vary for different hair types, as some people have naturally more oily hair than others, but try adding a day in between your current wash cycle, just to start. If your hair looks or feels greasy when you skip a day (or an extra day), you can fix that with some of these dry shampoos for oily hair, which will absorb some of the oils without damaging your hair or stripping them away. You can also occasionally use a bit of baking powder at your roots to get rid of excess oil.
Getting a Haircut
Everyone's hair is different. Some people can let their hair grow forever, straightening and blow drying all the while, without any trouble. Most of us have a limit on how long our hair will grow before the split ends and frizziness just get out of control. At this point, the easiest, fastest way to get rid of this damage is simply to get it cut. This doesn't have to be drastic: Just trimming an inch or less off of your hair can be one of the most effective treatments for dry, damaged hair, making it look a hundred times healthier without having to resort to any pricey products or strange recipes.