Sad african woman looking at dry edges of damaged hair

Treating Damaged Hair: 101

Sad african woman looking at dry edges of damaged hair
Prostock-studio – stock.adobe.com

Like your nails, each strand of your hair has a cuticle. This protective layer around the hair keeps your hair healthy and safe from environmental stressors like dirt, chemicals and dry air. When the cuticle cracks, your hair is damaged.

Some hair types are more prone to cracked cuticles. Naturally frizzy hair is an example of this. But often, damaged hair is the result of bad treatment. 

Hairdressing school is the best place to learn about specific treatments for damaged hair. But for now, let’s take a look at some common causes of hair damage and how to treat each one.

Environmental and Lifestyle Factors

Many environmental and lifestyle factors can contribute to hair damage. Living in a cold place or a place with dry air may cause your hair cuticles to crack. If you live in a big city with polluted air, this can cause hair damage as well. Unhealthy habits such as insufficient hydration and smoking can also affect hair, but it is not appropriate to comment on your client’s lifestyle choices.

To some degree, hair damage is inevitable. The easiest and fastest way to treat hair damage like split ends is through trimming. This allows the new hair to grow more healthfully. As a cosmetology student, you will learn to identify and cut split ends. You will also learn about shampoos, conditioners and hair masks that can help your client’s hair heal. 

A client with damaged, brittle hair may benefit from sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase. Another relatively easy fix for damaged hair is changing the location of your client’s part. Doing this will allow the hair around the part to be less exposed, allowing it to heal. 

Coloring 

Color treatments can be rough on hair, especially when the hair is dyed a very different shade from the client’s natural one. Generally, lighter shades are more damaging to hair than darker ones. In addition, at-home hair dyes tend to be harsher than professional products used in salons. 

If your client comes in with hair that is damaged from coloring, a monthly deep hydrating treatment like a protein serum might be beneficial. 

For aftercare, steer your clients toward special color-safe shampoo and conditioner. These products are formulated with the proper pH to keep the hair shafts from swelling, which minimizes color leakage and more hair damage. Olive oil is an effective hair hydrant as well.

Encourage your clients to skip at-home hair dyes moving forward, or to at least dye their hair less frequently. You’ll learn how to color your clients’ hair safely and beautifully at hair school, so encourage them to make use of your expertise. 

Even if you color your client’s hair yourself, don’t perform any other hair treatments like relaxing or perming for at least two weeks. Refrain from performing any other chemical treatments on your client until their current hair damage starts to heal.

hair styling tools
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Excessive Heat 

Excessive heat is often ignored as a cause of hair damage because it occurs slowly over time. Many clients use heated hair styling tools like blow-dryers, curling wands and flat irons at much higher settings than they need to. This results in hair that gradually becomes frizzy or limp.

Hair damage from excessive heat is another instance where the right combination of trimming, deep hydration treatments, and appropriate products is the right short-term solution. For aftercare, tell your clients to use their styling tools at lower heat. They should also use heat-safe styling products, such as serums, sprays and gels, that will give extra protection.  

Between styling sessions, encourage your clients to wash their hair with cold water, as hot water can lift the hair cuticle and cause further damage. 

Bad Shampoo 

We already mentioned how bad shampoo can aggravate colored hair, but it’s worth its own category. Harsh or poorly made shampoo can split or damage hair cuticles and strip them of nutrients. In hair-styling school, you will learn the best shampoos for each hair type, as well as how often hair should be shampooed. Switching your clients over to good shampoo will help you both heal their damaged hair.

About the Author

Jeff Chiarelli
Jeff Chiarelli is the Head of Marketing for Ogle School. His responsibilities include leading Ogle School's marketing and branding strategy to amplify Ogle School's passion for helping create future beauty professionals in the communities Ogle School serves.