How to Repair Damaged Curly Hair

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There’s so much mystery about how to repair damaged curly hair. Getting curly hair to bounce back is notoriously hard due to frizz, split ends, and stringy ends. You’ll know that it’s time to find tips for how to fix damaged curly hair when it’s been a long time since you’ve had a good hair day. Some people will tell you that chopping it all off to get a fresh start is the only way to make your curly hair look good again. Savvy stylists know that there are better ways. How do you rehabilitate your curly hair without putting it on the chopping block?

Take a look at eight simple tips for putting the bounce back in your hair without the shears.

1. Do a Heat-Styling Detox

You may have overdone it with heat styling. Unfortunately, thermal tools that add bounce and volume to curls can actually cause serious hair damage. You need to let your hair breathe if you’ve been styling with heat every day for a long period of time. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to soothe your hair using products alone. You must remove the source of the pain by removing the heat. That doesn’t mean living without a style you love!

If you’ve been using heat to add definition and volume to your curls, consider switching to heatless curling methods. Heatless rollers, elastic bands, and topknot buns that create curls naturally are all great alternatives. Leaving your preferred curl maker in overnight after washing your hair is one of the best ways to achieve heatless curls with staying power. Play around with a few different options until you find one that works best for achieving the types of curls you want.

2. Don’t Style Wet Hair Using Heat

Giving up heat completely may not be the only way to fight back against heat damage. It’s possible that the way you’ve been using heated styling tools is damaging your curly hair. Never “heat treat” wet hair. Many people begin styling hair with heat tools while their hair is still slightly damp because they’re in a rush to get out of the house in the morning. This is a big mistake because the moisture that’s lingering in the hair actually causes hair to burn even faster. When a heat tool comes into contact with even the slightest bit of moisture, the tool actually overheats the water in your hair to burn it right down to the cuticles. The result is crispy, damaged hair. The solution is to dry hair completely after washing it! You can even consider washing hair at night to ensure that there’s a full eight-hour window between washing and styling.

3. Embrace Deep Conditioning

There’s nothing like a good deep-conditioning session for your hair! While deep conditioning can’t fully undo damage caused by heat, it can soothe your frazzled follicles by delivering nourishing moisture. Your hair will be rehydrated to allow those bouncy, vibrant spirals you long for to return! Always look for conditioning products full of natural oils. Avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil are big winners because they have protective qualities. Conditioning masks for curly hair are great because they allow you to evenly distribute the product throughout your hair for even, consistent results. Gels, moisture shots, and serums can also be useful for daily spot treatments. One pro tip is to use clarifying shampoo prior to applying a conditioning treatment. This will help to create a clean slate that makes it easier for the nourishing ingredients to penetrate your hair follicles instead of simply beading on the surface.

4. Decide If You Can Live Without Color

Are you coloring or highlighting your curly hair? Unfortunately, the chemicals you’re using may be causing damage to your hair follicles. If you’re noticing that your hair feels brittle, dry, or fried, these are telltale signs that your coloring treatments are damaging your hair. You’re much more likely to notice the damaging effects of coloring your hair if you’re using bleach products to achieve a lighter color. This is why highlights can be especially troublesome even though they don’t cover your entire head.

If you can’t live without color, there are some techniques you can use to reduce the damage done to curly hair. One option is to consider moving toward a color that’s as close to your natural hair color as possible. This eliminates the need to use harsh ingredients that shock your hair. You can also consider asking your stylist about coloring products that are slightly more natural than the product you’re currently using to achieve your desired color.

5. Protect Your Hair in Daily Life

It turns out that living your best life can actually lead to some of your worst hair days. That’s because natural elements can dry our hair. Yes, time spent outdoors can actually harm your curly hair. Sun, wind and cold can all batter hair follicles. Get in the habit of wearing a protective hat whenever you’re outside. You can even purchase thermal protection spray made especially to insulate hair follicles from the sun’s damaging rays. If you swim, it’s important to know that both chlorine and salt water can damage hair follicles. Consider wearing a swimming cap to protect your hair whenever you take a dip. If your hair does get wet, showering immediately after can help to wash away sand and chlorine that can strip your hair follicles of natural oils.

6. Switch to a Microfiber Towel

Here’s a completely painless tip for how to repair damaged curly hair. Little steps that are part of our daily hair routine can actually cause serious damage. If you’re using a standard cotton towel to dry your hair after you get out of the shower, this may be your first problem. Regular towels can be damaging to hair because they contain rough fibers. Upgrading to a simple microfiber towel soothes hair instead of irritating it!

7. Get a Small Trim

While the goal may be to learn how to repair damaged curly hair without cutting it, breaking this rule just a little bit can make a big difference. There’s no need to trim off all of your hair just because you’re seeing some damage. However, a strategic trim can help to address problem areas that are making it hard for your hair to heal. Consider trimming just the ends to remove the most obvious points of damage. You’ll be surprised by just how fresh your hair looks once you remove the focal points of frizz. You can then start with “clean ends” when applying nourishing treatments. Getting rid of dead hair ends will allow the products you’re using to absorb more effectively.

Take advantage of a small trim to take a clean-slate approach to styling your hair. Go on a “heat fast” for a few weeks after trimming your hair to allow the newly revealed ends to thrive without becoming damaged by heat treatments. One of the benefits of having freshly trimmed ends is that they tend to respond better to heatless curling mechanisms. That means that you may find that heatless curlers suddenly work for you now that you’ve trimmed your hair even if they didn’t work when you had split ends.

8. Use Heat Protectant When Styling With Heat

If you’re still eager to get back to heat styling after a heat fast, it’s important to be smart about the techniques you use when introducing heat back into your routine. Don’t go back to “raw” heat styling ever again. What does this mean? Raw heat styling refers to styling your hair with a thermal device without first applying a heat protectant. There are many different protectant products on the market that will create a nourishing buffer. However, products containing natural ingredients tend to offer the biggest benefits. Coconut oil, avocado oil, and argan oil are considered especially effective for protecting hair against heat damage. Protectant products work by sealing moisture in before you apply heat. This sealed-in moisture reduces the damage done by the high temperature of a styling tool.

Final Thoughts: Repairing Curly Hair Without Cutting Takes Patience

Do you have to give up heat in order to keep your curly hair healthy? Not necessarily. However, having some heatless alternatives in your toolkit makes it possible to drastically reduce damage without giving up the bounce and volume you seek.

There’s no overnight solution for repairing damaged curly hair. The damage you see in the mirror took years to happen. It might take at least a few weeks to see a turnaround after you begin a rehabilitation plan for your curly hair. In some cases, the damage might be so severe that the only option is to trim your ends to allow for reparative products to penetrate your follicles. The good news is that many people who ditch heat treatments to repair their curly hair find that heatless alternatives actually work much better!

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