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Damaged hair treatment: how to save your hair

Is there a treatment for damaged hair? What can you try to fix dry and damaged hair without cutting it?

All you need to know about hair treatment for damaged hair 

Learn what professionals and product descriptions mean when they describe dry damaged hair concerns and find the best damaged hair treatment using the most adapted haircare products.

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How can you tell if you need a treatment for damaged hair?

Damaged hair isn’t the same as dealing with dry hair. Confusing the two and treating the same way is a common mistake when it comes to hair concerns, when they should actually be treated differently.

To help us understand the differences, let's discuss the structure of hair itself. At the heart of the fibre is the hair's cortex, which contains the hair colour (melanin). This core is protected by overlapping scales called cuticles which, on normal healthy hair, lie flat against one another to strengthen the hair and give it a uniform, shiny appearance. When these cuticles are damaged or weakened, the core is exposed and vulnerable to snapping. When dead hair snaps off or breaks into split ends, the hair looks frizzy and dull.

While they may have similar symptoms (dullness, frizz, coarse texture), here's how dry and damaged hair differs. Dry hair is due to a lack (or the removal of) natural oils that act as lubricants all along the hair fibre. Too much, and the hair looks oily, but too little and the hair dries out. 

A professional hair stylist will be able to diagnose your hair's condition in more detail, but in general, damaged hair breaks easily when pulled and has visible split ends (due to fragile bonds), while dry hair is often accompanied by white flakes of skin and a coarse, rough texture.

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Reasons you might need hair treatments for damaged hair

Hair can become damaged for multiple reasons. Everyday environmental stressors are a common cause: the wind can tangle hair around itself and cause the cuticles to scrape off, the sun's rays can cause UV damage, heated styling tools can weaken the bonds that make up the structure of the hair, pollution can build up on the fibre and cause it to snap, and over-colouring (or incorrect colouring) can leave the cuticles permanently open. Finding how to make hair cuticle lay flat is part of the damaged hair treatment process.




Learn your damage level in salon terms before treatment

Level 1 Hair Damage

With this level of damage, hair scales/cuticles are jagged, with some of them lifted or broken; but the hair's internal cortex is not yet fully exposed. The hair is slightly dry with less shine, duller colour and thinner ends.

Level 2 Hair Damage

Level 2 hair damage involves cuticle abrasion, which means that the external layer is scraped off and the internal cortex could be unprotected and vulnerable to damage in some areas of the hair fibre. At this hair damage level the number of cuticle layers decreases, with a large number of scales jagged and lifted and possibly an exposed cortex. Hair will have a rough texture, with a dull appearance, an uneven colour balance and the development of split ends. This level of damage is sometimes seen after over-processing or at-home colouring. 

Level 3 Hair Damage

This is the highest level of hair damage. Parts of the cuticle have withered away completely, and the cortex is exposed, leaving it weakened. At this level, the hair's surface texture is very coarse and deconstructed with no shine, faded colour and split ends. This is often seen with excessive styling, and strands will need a nourishing heat damaged hair treatment. 

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Is it even possible to repair damaged hair? 

Is it possible to repair damaged hair? All hair growing from our head is dead hair. It might sound unpleasant, but it’s true. The structure of this dead hair can become damaged for the reasons explained below. Because it is no longer growing or attached to a nutrient source, it can’t repair itself.

What are the features of a good hair treatment for damaged hair?

A good damaged hair treatment can help restore the quality of the hair by filling in its structure, strengthening the fibre and adding a thin layer of protective gloss to prevent further weakening and to boost shine. A good damaged hair treatment does this without weighing down the hair or making it look oily.




What are my options if I need treatment for damaged hair?

It may sound obvious, but prevention is key. Knowing common causes is a first step towards avoiding or minimising the risks. For example, reducing frequency of styling with heat tools or ensuring proper protection with hair primers beforehand or reducing frequency of colouring or other chemical services will go a long way in keeping hair damage at bay. Take a look at 'How to prevent hair damage' for more general tips.  

If you can't bear to part with the idea of colouring your hair, ask your L'Oréal Professionnel stylist about the iNOA ammonia free hair colour range for a no damage solution. 

For hair that is already damaged, L'Oréal Professionnel has developed a range of hair products for damaged hair. Reach for the best selling Absolut Repair range from the Serie Expert line, which was created to support the hair's fibre from root to tip, infusing nourishment and a weightless protective layer. For a more intense treatment for damaged hair, apply the Absolut Repair Golden Masque 1-2 times a week, being sure to leave on for 3-5 minutes before rinsing out thoroughly. 

Looking for additional advice? Find a friendly L'Oréal Professionnel expert at a salon near you to discuss the best hair treatments for damaged hair today.