Did anyone else try to do their own hair during the pandemic and end up with a complete disaster? Since my natural hair is dark brown and my goal is platinum blonde, lifting my hair colour to the right level is no easy task, which I Iearned after bleaching my roots 3 times within 2 days and still not achieving my platinum goal. On top of brassy roots, my hair was breaking off and extremely dry.. so while I give it time to recover, I made it a goal to learn how to take better care of it to prevent further damage and promote healthy growth.
In this post, I'll be sharing some tips that my hairdresser gave me. Also, keep in mind that this article is from the perspective of a white woman with severely dry and damaged curly hair. Haircare may look very different from person to person depending on their hair textures, genetics, health, etc.
It's common knowledge that heat-styling tools such as straighteners and curling irons aren't good for your hair, but apparently, certain styles can also contribute to damage! Wearing your hair in tight updos can cause breakage to weak hair. The safest hairstyles for fragile, damaged hair are loose and low, such as a low ponytail or loose braids. You may also want to trade your hair elastics for a large hair clip, or silky scrunchie to avoid friction, breakage, and fallout.
Silky Bedding or Bonnets
The friction from tossing and turning on a cotton pillowcase can be rough on your hair. Investing in silk or satin pillowcases or bonnets can protect your hair while you sleep. These also help keep your hairstyle intact and untangled.
Wash it Less
While many people believe that if your hair is damaged, you should wash it often with expensive hair products that promise to "repair damaged hair", the best product actually comes from your own body! Our scalps produce a natural oil called "sebum", that hydrates and protects hair follicles. Depending on your hair texture, lifestyle, and the amount of sebum that your scalp produces, you may be able to get away with only washing it once a week. This isn't unhygienic and is recommended by hair and skincare professionals. If it gets greasy quickly, you may be able to train your hair to require less frequent washing.
DIY Masks & Treatments
People will recommend anything from mayonnaise to rotten rice to strengthen and heal your hair. While many of these at-home treatments have been debunked by professionals, some have actually been found to be very beneficial to hair. Here are some of my faves:
Argan oil can be a moisturizing and soothing ointment for dry scalp, by applying it directly on your scalp and massaging it before a shower. It is also a great leave-in product to soften frizzy hair. Apply a small amount to your palm and run your hands through your (wet or dry) hair, focusing on the most damaged or frizzy areas.
Olive oil can be used similarly to Argan oil, as a scalp treatment or leave-in, or it can be made into a hair mask, by saturating your dry hair in it and leaving it on for about an hour before thoroughly washing it out with shampoo and conditioner. If it isn't washed out fully, it will make your hair greasy and heavy.
Fermented Rice Water:
Put rice into a bowl of water for 2 days, and then strain the water. Saturate your hair in the water and leave it in for 30 minutes before rinsing it out and conditioning your hair as usual. You can also add Olaplex or another mask to some areas of your hair that are most damaged.
Click here to find more DIY hair mask ideas.
Wet Hair Care
Hair becomes more fragile when wet, and much heavier, so it's important to be especially gentle with it during that time. You'll want to avoid brushing it before it's fully dried, but if you must, do it with a wide-toothed comb or Wet Brush. Putting it up while wet can cause water to become trapped in your hair, making it heavy and fragile. Also avoid sleeping with wet hair, since the friction from tossing and turning, or even having your head on a pillow can cause breakage in this weakened state, and apparently, even cause fungal infections.
If you have a hair colour that needs frequent root touch-ups, it's likely that you'll end up overlapping the bleach on some parts of your hair that have already been bleached. This can cause breakage to the pre-bleached areas. A great way to avoid this and to give your hair some time to rest and recover is by opting for a low-maintenance hair colour. These can be called a balayage, an ombre, a root-blend, root-smudge, or root-melt. These styles allow your roots to grow in with a natural and blended look. You can leave your hair for as long as it needs to get healthy again. One thing you can do to enhance the appearance of your low-maintenance roots is by having the pieces of your hair that frame your face (AKA the "money piece") bleached/dyed to your liking so that you look more blonde (or whatever your colour goal is) while allowing the rest of the hair to grow in naturally.
Wear a Wig
Wigs can be a great way to have fun with your hair without heat or chemical damage. The best benefit of wearing wigs is that you can easily change your hair colour, style, and length as often as you wish without having to hurt your natural hair. Synthetic wigs can be very affordable, and great for dress-up or cosplay. Human hair wigs tend to be very expensive, ranging from $200-$2000+, but they are a worthwhile investment, especially if you've been spending $200+ at a salon every few weeks anyway.
Get Monthly Micro-trims
If you want long hair, cutting it shorter every month may seem counterproductive, but getting micro-trims (also known as "dusting") can remove dry and split ends while maintaining your length. Micro trims are generally very affordable, but you can also get away with doing them yourself if you have hair-cutting scissors and work in small sections without "chopping" your hair.
Diet & Supplements
A professional hairdresser can give you the best advice based on your hair needs, but here are some of the most recommended hair products for damage repair, protection, and growth:
If you style your hair with heat products such as blow dryers, straighteners or curling irons, you should be using a leave-in heat protector product. Most of these come as a spray. I've been using L'Oreal Heat Slayer for its affordability, but many other product recommendations can be found here.
Olaplex No. 3
Olaplex is currently the top recommendation by hair professionals, with their most popular product being No.3, a weekly hair mask that treats broken bonds caused by chemical, heat and other types of hair damage.
In May 2022, I had given my hair a few months to recover and was ready to get the colour issue fixed, and get a low-maintenance root. After 4 hours and over $400, I had a haircolour that I didn't love as much as my platinum blonde, but knew was an essential step in my hair journey. I hope to update this again in a few months with longer, healthier, and stronger hair!
Do you have a correction, recommendation, or experience to add to this post? Let us know in the comments below!