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Can Damaged Hair Be Saved? Tips to Repair Damaged Hair At Home

Many hair problems like breakage, dull, brittle, dry, tangly, frizzy, and straw-like hair are signs and symptoms of hair damage. We designed SAVE ME FROM to fix this hair damage to get rid of the symptoms- like a medicine for your hair- rather than just masking the damage for temporary shine, strength, hydration, and smoothness. Read on for more ideas on how you can avoid or repair over processed hair...


Hair damage, split ends, hair repair for split ends, split end repair

What is hair made of?

Hair's composition is incredibly helpful in understanding how it becomes damaged and how it can be fixed. In short, it is made of four parts:

1. Cortex

The cortex of the hair is where your keratin lives. Keratin is becoming an increasingly popular word when it comes to hair damage and hair health. The keratin protein lives in your cortex with other lipids. Keratin is a type of protein that can be manipulated by chemicals such as for a perm or relaxant to either curl the hair or straighten it. Keratin treatments were invented to repair the keratin damage you may have, but may actually be damaging to your hair. When you bleach or dye your hair, you are inserting certain chemicals into the cortex to manipulate the melanin that exists there, as well.

2. Cell Membrane Complex

The cell membrane complex is where your hair hydration lives. It is composed of lipids that are "sticky" and keep the cortex and the cuticle together. When the cell membrane complex is exposed, you lose hydration and expose the cortex to cause further damage as it protects that important innermost layer of the hair shaft. We will talk more later about what damage to the cell membrane complex looks like, but just assume that it is very important to the health of your hair shaft.

hair structure, cortex, cell membrane complex, cuticle, medulla

3. Cuticle

The cuticle is made up of hard scales that lay down to protect the rest of the hair shaft. These scales can be moved depending on the damage and cause several of the symptoms of hair damage. Most hair care products are designed to manipulate, coat, replace, or otherwise improve the look of the cuticle of the hair. While the cuticle is made up of dead cells, their attachment to the cell membrane complex and their ability to lay down and be flexible is very important to giving you beautiful hair.

4. Medulla

The medulla is in the very center of the cuticle and may not exist in all hair types. It is particularly prevalent in course, darker hair and gray hair. It contains a less organized mixture of air and cortex cells. It doesn't serve any known purpose and may even contribute to an uneven distribution of strength over the hair shaft. Often products do not have anything to do with the medulla because of its lack of consistency in types of hair and because keratin and bonds in the hair exist in the cortex, cell membrane complex, and cuticle.

What does damaged hair look like?

Many of the ways we describe our hair are actually signs of damage! Here are some of the most common and why hair looks this way when damaged:

Frizzy Hair

image of woman holding up frizzy hair sign of hair damage and need for a product to repair damaged hair and smooth frizzy hair

Frizzy hair is often described by people as something they cannot control. While it might be difficult to control, understanding why hair gets frizzy is incredibly helpful for managing it. Frizz is caused by a swelling within the hair shaft due to a damaged cuticle and too much moisture entering into the cell membrane complex. Thus, the trick is managing the amount of moisture that enters into the cell membrane complex. 

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Tangly Hair

Tangled hair is also a sign of damage, something I would guess you didn't know. Tangly hair is a result of the cuticle of the hair shaft lifting up and then "catching" on other lifted cuticles. Now, imagine what happens when you comb through to detangle those stuck cuticles? Yep, more damage and more tangles. Keeping the cuticle healthy and laid down is essential to keeping the rest of the hair healthy. 

Check out with of our SAVE ME FROM Hair Repair products was designed to prevent and repair hair that gets extra tangly

Dull Hair

image of hair that is dull vs hair that is shiny, diagram, cartoon of hair, lackluster hair vs lustrous hair and hair damage

Ever wondered if you were bound to just have to endure "mousy" looking hair the rest of your life? Well, now that you know that dullness is a symptom of hair damage you can fix it and get that shine you miss! Dull hair is similar to tangly hair- when the cuticle is lifted up and haphazardly pointing in any direction, the shine of the hair decreases. Thus, when you take care to lay the cuticle down on the shaft, you are going to bring back your natural shine.

Dry Hair

One of the most common complaints about hair is how dry it gets. Many people want to know- how can I fix dry hair? Dry hair is a symptom of a dry cell membrane complex. When the cell membrane complex is exposed and hydration is lost, this is because of damaged cuticle and damaged lipids. Hydrating your hair means more than just applying a conditioner! It means repairing lipids, reinserting hydration, and locking it all in with some better habits and better products. 

If you deal with dry hair, you might be interested in our SAVE ME FROM Thermal Obsession

Hair Breakage

Another common complaint is hair breakage. In fact, many people think that they are losing hair when they are actually experiencing hair breakage. Breakage occurs when the cortex of the hair is exposed and the keratin is broken or weakened. Hair loss is often just hair breakage because the hair breaks most often in the mid-shaft (usually where you are using strong rubber bands in your hair for those buns and ponytails). Hair breakage can be very hard to fix, but with the right ingredients you can pull it off. 

Brittle Hair and Straw-like Hair

Brittle, straw-like hair is often due to UV exposure, glycation, and damaging chemicals in waters like chlorine and hard water. When you sweat, your hair undergoes a process called glycation where the cuticle layers will fuse together, making it stiff and much more prone to breakage. While you want your cuticles to lay down on the hair shaft, you also want them to be flexible enough to give your hair bounce and fullness. 

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What damages hair?

photo of hair loss and hair breakage on a brush

We have identified six major sources of hair damage to combat. Five of these sources are due to what we do to our hair, and the sixth is due simply to a process we all go through. When keratin is restructured, hydrolipidic film disappears, and cuticle scales fall off is when hair is damaged and breaking off. Let's start with the least damaging sources to the most damaging sources:

  • Pollution Damage - Don't think that your hair gets off scott free when it comes to free radicals. Your hair was not designed to be able to handle all of the toxic things in the air in our world today! These toxic free radicals in the air break down and damage your hair from cortex to cuticle and prevent your hair from feeling its best.

  • Sun + Sweat Damage - Sun UV rays cause the natural bonds in your hair to break, and your cell membrane to lose hydration. Sweat causes glycation on the hair shaft, which causes the cuticle to fuse, making it tangly, brittle, and dull. 
  • Product Damage - Products containing silicones, sulfates, harsh salts, and sticky substances to manipulate the look of your hair leave residue and prevent your hair from getting what it needs. At first, silicone based products feel nice, but do not actually do much good for your hair in the long run. 
  • Age - Something we cannot avoid, age, is one of the hardest things for people to encounter when it comes to their hair. Because of prolonged exposure to damage, as well as hormonal changes and lack of nutrition absorption, aging hair gets gray, thin, wiry, and prone to breakage.
  • Thermal Damage - Using hot tools dries out the hair, breaks the keratin protein in the cortex, and causes blistering and buckling of the cuticle on the outside of the hair shaft. This damage only causes further damage and exposure to other harmful thinks like UV exposure and pollution damage.
  • Chemical Damage - The queen of all bad things to do to your hair: bleach, dye, relaxant, and perms are examples of chemical damage and can cause large amounts of damage, breakage, and broken bonds in the hair shaft. 

How do I avoid damaging my hair?

woman running her fingers through her hair 

So, you COULD avoid all of the damaging sources- chemicals, thermal tools, sun/sweating, products, and pollution. Aging, however, is inevitable. Even in spite of that, how likely are you to avoid these things? Not very. Hair is delicate, like skin, and deserves the same kind of care. Here are some practical ways you can avoid damaging your hair:

  • Use safe hair dyes and have a professional bleach your hair. Do an overnight treatment of SAVE ME FROM Chemical Conflict before and after bleaching or dying your hair (and mix it in with your color!) to help maintain the strength that it needs to avoid breakage. 
  • Use a heat protectant when using hot tools to style your hair. While our SAVE ME FROM Thermal Obsession was designed and clinically tested to be an overnight hair repair treatment, it also works well as a heat protectant right before blow drying, straightening, or curling.
  • Air dry your hair until 75% dry before blow drying. This may seem like it will defeat the purpose, but it is something to consider as it can make a big difference on the damage your hair incurs from the hot air coming from your blow dryer. 
  • Use warm water when washing and conditioning, and cool water as a quick rinse before getting out of the shower. The warm water helps with cleansing the hair and allowing the conditioner to penetrate. The cool water helps to lay the cuticle down and lock in the moisture and nutrients from the conditioner.
  • Focus shampoo on the scalp only. Shampoo is designed to cleanse the scalp and balance the grease and oil production of your scalp. Conditioner is designed to cleanse and improve the look of your hair, and to repair the damage done to your hair from the shampoo. If you shampoo in order to wash out product buildup, consider using our SAVE ME FROM Product Overload as a quick way to remove the product buildup but also nourishing the hair and balancing the microbiome of your scalp. 
  • Avoid wet combing. Combing your hair while wet is incredibly harmful and can cause breakage. Your hair is most vulnerable when wet and detangling is best done when hair is partially or fully dry. You can also use something to detangle the hair if you must comb through it while wet. Our SAVE ME FROM Pollution Assault has been said to be a great detangler!

How do I repair already damaged hair at home?

So, let's say that you already have done a few box dyes, gotten a perm, sent swimming in chlorinated water without a protectant, or had one too many days with the dry shampoo. It IS possible to repair broken bonds! However, even when repaired, these broken bonds need to be maintained. 

Repairing damaged hair depends entirely on the TYPE of damage. Just looking at symptoms of damage really doesn't help you repair it, and purchasing styling products to "hide" the damage can cause further damage. 

So, when you start to notice your symptoms of hair damage, like fizziness, breakage, dry hair, and thinning hair, you need to get a better idea of how to repair what's causing that. 

black woman looking at her curly hair

Products for damaged, over processed hair

Again, that depends on the damage! If you haven't read through this article already, go back and read about what causes hair damage. If you need help identifying your main sources of damage, you can take our hair quiz to help you see which of our products will reverse damage you've already done, protect your hair from future damage, and also improve your scalp and hair as it grows out from the start!

Watch more tips and tricks specifically for curly hair from curly hair expert, Diane Mary. 

Did you find this article informational about how to fix over processed hair  and how to fix hair damage? Don't miss out on future articles! Sign up for our newsletter and you can learn more about how to take care of your hair to make sure it always looks youthful and beautiful!