The most effective ways to care for damaged hair include limiting use of chemicals such as relaxers, hair dye and perms, and stopping or reducing use of styling tools such as curling irons, blow dryers and flat irons. In addition, products intended for damaged hair can help the repair process.
Hair is comprised of three layers: the medulla, the cortex and the cuticle. The medulla is the center of the hair and is surrounded by the cortex, which determines hair's texture, volume and strength. Outside the cortex lies the cuticle, which is made up of overlapping layers of protein like the shingles on a roof. Processes like permanent dying, relaxing and heat styling damage the outer cuticle, leaving the inner cortex vulnerable to damage. Damaged hair typically lacks shine, has a rough texture with breakage and split ends, and is difficult to manage.
Besides cutting back on damaging chemicals and heat styling, many products exist that cater to damaged hair. Deep-moisturizing conditioners restore moisture to the hair and make it softer and easier to manage. Protein conditioners reinforce the cuticle's strength, helping it to resist further damage. Natural oils such as coconut oil and avocado oil nourish the hair and keep it from losing moisture. Adopting a weekly regimen that incorporates hot oil treatments and deep conditioners is a good step in turning the damage around.