Blonde, Brunette, Black, Red, Blue…I’ve had just about every hair color there is. It wasn’t always a full color, meaning it was just a streak of purple or blue tips, but I’ve had a lot of experience coloring my hair. Sometimes I used a box dye and other times I went to a salon. Generally, coloring your hair means you’re going to have at least a little bit of damage.
My worst hair trauma story happened my junior year of high school. At the time, my hair was a dark brown, but I got bored and wanted to go back to blonde. So, I made an appointment at a local salon. When I went in for my consultation, I made sure to ask if this could be done in one session or if it needed to be done in steps. They told me it could be done in one session (they were very, VERY wrong).
When I left, my hair was ORANGE. Maybe not a bright orange, but it definitely wasn’t blonde. The hair stylist used bleach multiple times on my hair, so it didn’t come out how I expected. Being the drama queen that I am, I went home and cried to my mom while she tried to figure out a fix. The stylist offered to fix it before the salon opened the next day, but nothing she did
I was still so unhappy with the color, so I made the soonest appointment I could at a different salon. This time, I made sure to check reviews on Yelp. The hair stylist I had this time was sympathetic to the situation and was happy to help. The goal was to get to a color that wasn’t nauseating and to minimize the amount of extra damage. In the process of coloring my hair, he used plastic wrap on pieces that were soaking in the color (I’m not sure on the correct terminology here). It started to feel really hot, but he told me that was normal. Then, it got uncomfortably hot. I asked him to take it off and there was a CHEMICAL BURN on my ear.
He managed to make the color look okay, but it resulted in my hair being SO damaged. I ended up just cutting my hair shorter to get rid of the damaged ends. I wasn’t thrilled with this decision, but ultimately I knew it was the best thing to do.
My experience taught me how to take care of my hair and recover it from a ton of damage. What helped me the most were hair masks, limiting heat, no coloring, and cutting my hair.
Deep-conditioning hair masks were a savior when my hair was looking like TRASH. There are plenty of options when it comes to hair masks. You can buy one or make a DIY mask. You can use a mask as often as you would like. When my hair was really bad, I would use a mask every single day. Now I probably only use a mask once a week, if that.
Out of the masks that I have tried, I recommend the Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask. This one helped my hair immensely, but it is on the pricier side. If you’ve never used a hair mask before, basically all you do is wash your hair as normal then apply the hair mask throughout your hair. The important part is to not rinse it right away; let the mask soak into your hair for 5-10 minutes. The directions on each hair mask will vary, but I don’t see any harm in leaving it in for as long as possible.
The internet has plenty of DIY hair masks that you can use for a variety of reasons (i.e., damaged hair, to add shine, etc.). My personal favorite isn’t much of a DIY, but I prefer to just heat up some coconut oil and let it soak into my hair. I’ll massage it into my scalp a little bit, let it soak for as long as possible (sometimes hours), then rinse.
Limit Heat Usage
This is so important for damaged hair AND when you just want to prevent damage on your hair. Flat irons, curling irons, blow dryers- they will all cause damage on your hair. If your hair is in really bad condition, I would recommend trying to not use heat at all. If you really can’t do without heat, try to only put heat on your hair a couple times a week.
You can find alternatives to using heat on your hair. My favorite things to do are putting my hair into a high ponytail or bun, braids, or throwing on a hat.
Cut, Don’t Color
The last thing you want to do while you’re trying to save your hair from the damage is putting MORE color over it. Try to go as long as you can without coloring it again. This was difficult for me because I didn’t want to be brunette again, but I didn’t really have a choice anymore. Just be patient, and when your hair is doing better you can color it again- just make sure you do your research on the salon first.
Because my hair was incredibly damaged from all of the bleach, I decided to cut mine shorter than ever before. It was about shoulder/collar bone length and I HATED it. I wanted it to grow out so badly and that’s why I did everything that I could to get it healthy again.
If you’ve had a traumatic hair experience, share it with me and how you recovered from the damage in the comments!