How to Identify and Repair Heat Damaged Hair
Obsessed with the results from your favourite flat iron or curling wand, but not so into the damage heat styling can cause to your hair? We’ve been there, babe! The inconvenient truth is, if heated tools are part of your regular haircare routine, you’ve likely had to deal with some frazzled locks along the way. However, this article is here to help!
If you’re looking for advice on how to repair heat damaged hair, or wondering how to identify heat damage in the first place, read on. Our bumper article is full of expert techniques and proactive steps that’ll help you prevent further damage – while repairing those fried strands so they can shine another day!
Identifying Heat Damaged Hair
Maybe you went overboard with the straightening iron or blow dryer heat, and now you’re wondering whether your hair is, in fact, heat damaged. Or could it just be a little dry?
To help you tell the difference, here’s a quick list of some common signs of heat damaged hair. Chances are, if you’ve noticed more than one of these signs of tress stress, some damage has been done (but don’t worry, we’ll tell you how to fix it in a mo!).
- Rough or brittle hair texture
- Loss of your hair’s usual shine
- Your hair feels dry (or really dry!)
- You’re having difficulty styling, curling, or colouring your strands
- Your hair knots and tangles easily
- Your tresses lack elasticity
You won’t necessarily experience all of the above symptoms with heat damaged hair, but you can trust your instincts if you’re on the fence. After all, nobody knows your hair and its unique quirks as well as you! So, if something feels off with your curls, for example, and you’ve been been firing up that styling wand on the reg, chances are your hair has some heat damage.
It’s also worth adding here that heat damaged hair exists on a spectrum. How you treat it depends on the severity and, also, your hair type. Now, who’s ready to get the repair underway?
Steps for How to Repair Heat Damaged Hair
We know we’ll be bursting a few bubbles with this truth bomb, but repairing heat damaged hair won’t always be possible. We hate to say it but also want to be realistic and up front. If your hair has some serious breakage and looks like it’s been razed by a small fire, no amount of moisture sealing and protein restoration will whip it into shape.
If this is your strand situation, we recommend visiting your stylist and discussing options for treating the heat damaged hair. Cutting might be the only option as, for badly burned hair, the problem can actually spread up the strands and make heat damaged hair treatment very difficult!
That said, for the average case of mild or moderately heat damaged hair, there are a bunch of easy fixes that will return your hair to its natural glory. Below are some steps you can take to get your hair strengthened, moisturised, and back on track!
Use a Protein Treatment
A good place to start is restoring your hair’s natural proteins with a protein treatment, keratin spray, leave-in conditioner, or a hair mask. These leave-in treatments alleviate and repair broken bonds in the hair follicles, while introducing some added nutrients, lipids, and proteins. Ingredients to look for in protein treatments include keratin, yoghurt, creatine, B vitamins, honey, and a nourishing oil (olive and coconut oil are fairly common).
You can go store-bought or DIY for your hair masks and protein treatments, though DIY solutions won’t always fix long-term or severely heat damaged hair as thoroughly. Plus, if you leave a protein treatment in for too long it can actually cause more problems – so the salon is a great place to start.
If you’re hesitant or have never done a protein treatment before, we recommend seeing your stylist for a professional treatment! From there, for severely damaged hair you can expect to do bi-weekly home protein treatments for two or even three months.
We recommend using any protein treatment as part of a more comprehensive solution for your heat damaged hair. Doing a protein treatment alone gives your hair a structural lift, however it won’t add much moisture or help prevent future harm. So, what else can you do?
Introduce and Seal Moisture
Curly hair tends to get a little dry after a protein treatment. But, even if you don’t have curly hair, it’s always a good idea to bring in some moisture to help repair heat damaged hair and restore your hair’s bounce! Deep-conditioning treatments and moisturising hair masks are ideal to help tame frizz, unravel tangles, and rejuvenate brittle hair texture caused by heat damage.
Ingredients to look for in a hair moisturising prods include shea butter and coconut oil (you’ll find both in our Super Nourishing Hair Masque!), jojoba oil, avocado, aloe vera, and honey. These work like a treat to seal moisture in your follicles. Combine them with a protein treatment and you’re well on your way to restore bounce and banish that dreaded heat damaged dullness!
Pro Tip - Limit shampooing frequency as you treat damaged hair. Shampooing strips away natural oils and can prolong the healing process. Obviously, you don’t have to stop shampooing completely, but if you cut it back to two or three times per week your hair will thank you! Also make sure you’re using a sulfate-free shampoo, as these foaming detergents can cause added dryness and lead to scalp irritation.
And, if you exercise frequently and need to shampoo more often? Apply the shampoo to your scalp and roots only. Simple!
Preventing Heat Damaged Hair
There’s not always a tonne you can do to completely fix heat damage. But you CAN make sure your haircare routine supports healthy hair and promotes restoration, while also preventing further issues. What, you didn’t think a bit of heat damage meant you could forget about hair maintenance, did you?!
Below are some tips you can integrate into your routine to protect and strengthen your strands.
Use heat protectant! Heat protectants contain silicones that reduce potential heat damage from flat irons, while adding a little shine, and reducing frizz. Apply yours to damp hair before blow-drying to keep the moisture locked in.
Turn down the heat on your curling wand, flat iron, blow dryer, etc. Lower temperatures mean less potential heat damage. While it will be harder to get the look you want, try to stay under 350°F/175°C or 375°F/190°C.
Reduce the frequency of heat! Use hair rollers or wraps to curl or straighten your hair without heat. When using a blow dryer, if you must, make sure your hair is damp (not wet!) before starting. Blow-drying dripping wet hair is harsh on the protective outer layers of your hair and can lead to heat damage. If you can, try air-drying your hair the right way (as we’ve handily outlined) to keep it looking and feeling ah-mane-zing.
- Dye less often if you routinely dye your hair. Did you know hair dying and bleaching makes your hair more susceptible to heat damage!? Prolong the time between colouring by using shampoos without sulfates (as these can cause fading), shampooing less frequently, and rinsing hair with cold water.
We hope the steps above have helped you learn how to repair heat damaged hair without breaking the bank and causing additional issues! It’s not always easy to find a solution, but with the right preventative measures and healing techniques, you’ll be on your way to a worry-free style and haircare routine in no time.
Edited by: Vidhya