This Routine Saved My Dry, Damaged Hair

hair blowing in wind

Do you have dry, brittle hair damaged from one too many dye jobs? Has years of heat styling left your strands split and frizzy? Believe me, I’ve been there. My hair used to be so damaged from bleach that it was constantly sticky and knots formed all by themselves. It was gross. But I was able to change my habits and repair the damage without having to pull a Britney and shave it all off.

I’ve changed my hair up a lot, starting in college. During my sophomore year, I decided to go bleach blonde. It was the thing to do at the time, and I loved it. I was born with light hair that darkened over time, so the color suited my skin tone. And I loved being able to dye the ends pastel pink or lavender whenever I wanted. This was the first of many experiments that eventually left my hair seemingly beyond repair, but with a lot of work and the right products I got back to my healthy, natural hair…

Aside from my specific routine, which we’ll get into below, I learned the first thing on the road to hair repair is to cut out anything in your routine that’s causing further damage. Toss any products with sulfates or silicone, and hide your blow-dryer. Don’t use heat styling tools every day and when you do, be sure to use a heat protectant spray. Try to wash your hair every 2 or 3 days, not every day. Your natural oils are good for your scalp and hair, and second day hair usually looks the best anyways. Just stock up on a good dry shampoo. I like Klorane or Living Proof Perfect Hair Day.

My Damage-Repairing Hair Care Routine:

  1. Scalp care – Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. Once or twice a week, use a scalp scrub to break up any product residue and exfoliate the skin on your scalp. You exfoliate your face, so why wouldn’t your scalp benefit from the same TLC? I like IGK’s Low Key Cleansing Walnut Scalp Scrub and Briogeo’s Scalp Revival shampoo.
  2. Shampoo and conditioner – Your shampoo can actually be the biggest culprit of build-up and dry, oily strands. Anything too soapy is going to strip your hair and your scalp. Avoid shampoos with sulfates, silicone, and parabens. My favorite natural shampoo that still gets my hair clean is Briogeo’s Be Gentle, Be Kind. My favorite conditioner of all time is K√©rastase Lait Vital. Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! mask is a more natural choice, but I find it a little heavy for everyday use.
  3. Reconstructing treatments – Now that my hair is pretty much back to normal, I’ve cut these out of my routine, but back when I was still correcting my color these were life-savers! Use something with active proteins that will actually repair damaged hair follicles and prevent breakage. The difference I saw the first month of using these was amazing. I used the Redken Extreme Cat Protein Reconstructing Hair Treatment Spray and the Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-In Treatment, but I’ve heard Olaplex is fantastic as well.
  4. Styling – I haven’t blow-dried my hair – except for special occasions – in about 4 years, and I can really tell a difference in the condition of my hair. My hair also goes stick-straight when I blow dry it, so I prefer the texture of my hair when I air dry it. To encourage some wave, I use IGK’s Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel, which smells divine and my hair loves. The morning of Day 2 hair, I brush out the oil my scalp produced overnight, spray the roots with dry shampoo, and spritz the ends with a lightweight oil like NatureLab Tokyo’s Perfect Shine Oil Mist.
  5. Weekend treatment – On the weekends I like to do a hair mask. This can be a mask you buy like Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair!, or a food-grade oil like coconut or olive oil. The night before you shower, work the treatment into your scalp and down to the ends, wrap your hair in loose braids, and cover your pillowcase with a towel or an old t-shirt. Do your normal routine in the morning, being sure to shampoo all the excess treatment off your hair, and prepare to be amazed by how healthy your hair looks! My favorite French makeup artist, Violette, has a great video about her weekend hair treatment:

Finding this routine has been a process of trial and error, but I’ve settled on something that’s very effective for my fine, straight hair. Depending on your hair type, these may not be the best products for you, but the principles are pretty universal: replace damaging chemicals with natural oils, be careful with heat tools, and find a protein-based repair treatment. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you see a difference in the shine and manageability of your hair!

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