Tips For Repairing Damaged Black Hair
Trying to figure out how to repair damaged black hair?
Feeling tempted to shave your head out of frustration?
I've been there before so I know exactly what you're going through.
When my hair was dry, brittle and breaking I was so embarrassed I didn't want to go out and socialize and my favorite accessory was a baseball cap.
Today it's healthy and strong and when I have a hair emergency I know what to do to stop damage in its tracks and bring my hair back to life.
Even if your breakage is really bad you can stop it and turn your hair's health around with time, the right treatments and proper hair care techniques.
What does damaged black hair look like?
In my experience, every damaged head of hair has some common characteristics.
- Dry and dull grey tinged hair with no sheen.
- Limp and lifeless hair that can't hold a curl.
- Frizzy and unruly porous strands that soak up moisture.
- Weak and brittle hair that snaps easily under pressure.
- Spilt ends with a "Y" shape shows that strands are weak.
Damaged African American Hair
What causes damaged black hair?
During my hair care journey I've always found that damaged hair can be traced back to one or more of 4 major causes.
- Mechanical -using combs, brushes and other styling tools.
- Chemical - using relaxers, perms, colors and bleaching agents.
- Heat - using hot tools like blow dryers, flat and curling irons.
- Neglect - caused by not washing and moisturizing enough or leaving braids and weaves in too long.
Habits That Cause Dry, Brittle and Breaking Hair
The first step in how to repair damaged black hair is to figure out what you're doing that's causing the problem.
Here are major causes of black hair breakage. How many are you guilty of?
- Too Much and Rough Handling - Black and African American hair looks strong but it's very delicate and needs to be treated like silk and left alone as much as possible to stay healthy with minimal breakage.
- Wearing Hair Down A Lot- Hair that's worn out rubs against clothes, gets caught in jewellery which causes breakage.
- Sleeping on Cotton Pillow Cases - Cotton absorbs moisture, dries your hair out as you toss and turn in your sleep.
- Over Processing - Relaxing or coloring too often causes chemicals to overlap breaking down the layers of the hair creating weak spots.
- Double Processing - Relaxing and coloring at the same time leads to hair disaster. It's better to stick to either color or chemical straighteners but not both at once.
- Too Much and High Heat - Over using heat styling tools or always using the highest heat setting causes your hair to break down and weaken over time.
- Not Enough Moisture - Black and African American hair is prone to dryness and without regular deep moisturizing treatments our hair dries out and breaks easily.
How to Repair Damaged African American Hair
The second step in how to repair damaged black hair is doing the right things to fix it and prevent more problems in the future.
No matter what kind of damage you have the following tips will whip your hair into shape and keep it healthy.
- Use Moisturizing Shampoos and Conditioners - They make your hair strong, supple and less likely to snap during styling.
- Use a Good Protein Treatment - Regular reinforcement protein helps your hair stand up to chemicals and harsh products.
- Deep Condition with Heat - Adding heat to your deep treatments produces three times the results. Steam helps oils and conditioners penetrate deeply into the hair shaft instead of just coating it.
- Use Leave In Conditioner - They work to seal in moisture, make styling easier and smooth the cuticle for a healthy sheen.
- Seal Your Ends with Moisture - Ever heard of the baggy trick? If your ends are extra dry and brittle, coat your ends in Shea butter or your favorite moisturizing hair product and cover it with a plastic cap or saran wrap. Your ends get a mini treatment that leaves them soft and super hydrated.
Products for Damaged Black Hair
Is your hair breaking off badly? There are emergency treatments and products for damaged Black hair that promise to repair even the most severe breakage after just one treatment.
Here are my top 3 picks based on research, reviews and personal trial and error.
- Avlon Affirm 5 in 1 Reconstructor
This is my personal favorite and is part of the Affirm/Kera Care line of products. The stretchy consistency takes some getting used to, but it prevents the treatment from dropping when you have it in.
- It's great for limp and fine hair.
- It reduces breakage and shedding after one treatment.
- Heat activated for deep penetration.
- There's no need to use a separate moisturizing conditioner.
Aphogee Two-step Treatment Protein for Damaged Black Hair
This treatment smells awful but the results are worth it. If your hair is badly damaged breaking, splitting and frayed this is the best choice for the following reasons.
- It stops hair breakage immediately after use.
- The results last up to six weeks.
- It's good for relaxed and color treated hair.
This treatment is 100% protein based and very involved so if you choose to use it, follow the instructions very carefully. You must sit under a hooded dryer for the required time then follow up the treatment with a moisturizing conditioner.
Not doing these things will damage your hair even more. If you don't trust yourself to do it right, have this treatment done at a salon.
Aubrey Organics GPB Glycogen Protein Balancing Conditioner, 16-Ounce Bottle
This is a very good protein and moisture combination that smells great. It's not as intensive as the first two treatments but is still a great pick.
- It restores softness, shine and manageability.
- Smooth's hair cuticles and repairs damaged areas along the shaft.
- Is excellent for dry curly hair types.
- Can be used as an instant conditioner or deep treatment.
All of these damaged black hair treatments are effective on both natural and chemically processed hair.
Homemade Remedies for Damaged Black Hair
Do you prefer a more natural approach to black hair repair? There are lots of simple but effective hair repair recipes you can whip up right in your kitchen.
Here are 3 of my favorite deep conditioning homemade remedies for damaged black hair.
- Homemade Hair Mayonnaise
Rich in egg protein and oils, this treatment is great for dry, damaged chemically treated hair.
- 1 Egg
- 1 Cup olive oil
- A few drops of essential oil
Mix the ingredients together in a blender until it's nice and thick. Apply the entire mixture to your hair and cover with a plastic cap. After 30 minutes wash with a gentle shampoo and rinse your hair completely.
Moisturizing Banana and Avocado Hair Mask
The high fat content of avocados makes this an idea deep penetrating hair mask.
- 1 medium banana
- 1 egg
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 3 Tablespoons buttermilk
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mix all the ingredients together until they're thoroughly combined and apply from roots to ends. Cover your hair with a plastic cap, wait 30 minutes then wash it out using a gentle moisturizing shampoo.
Hair Strengthening Vinegar Rinse
The acid in vinegar makes scales of your hair shaft lie smoothly, making it stronger while also rinsing residue out of your hair.
- 4 Tablespoons vinegar
- 1 Quart water
Combine the vinegar and water in a container and mix them together. After you rinse the shampoo and conditioner out pour the vinegar mixture over your hair (you don't need to rinse it out).
Tips For Damaged Black and African American Hair
Here are some specific tips for the 4 major causes of damaged black hair.
- Don't Pull Your Hair Tight or Over Style - Not only will this lead to weakness and breakage but you could end up with serious hair loss as well.
- Wear Protective Hairstyles - Keep your hair in protective styles to shield it from the air and other elements that encourage split ends.
- Use Silk or Satin - Pillowcases, scarves and hair ties made of these materials are the only things that should come in contact with your hair since they don't 'catch' and brake it off.
- Stop Over Processing - Don't let your stylist leave chemicals in your hair longer than they have to. Straightening your hair more than 80% is bad for its strength.
- Never Double Process - Color and relaxer don't mix without significant damage. Choose one or the other (better yet, neither) for your healthiest hair.
- Stretch Out Your Chemical Services - Have at least an inch of new growth before you get your hair processed. This, along with pre-treating your hair, cuts down on over processing.
- Condition Your Hair Often - Conditioning with every wash is important and using moisture and protein is a must.
- Use the Right Products - To get the best results, look for products designed for your hair type and specific issues.
- Eliminate Heat Styling Tools - Don't fry your hair with hot tools. Stick to gentle or no heat styling options like wet sets and air drying.
- Never Leave Braids in Too Long - Six to eight weeks is the maximum time to leave braids in (only if you take good care of them). They must be taken out so you can wash and deep condition regularly.
- Don't Wait Forever Between Relaxers - This is just as bad as not waiting long enough. Without moisturizing and gentle handling your hair will snap at the line of demarcation (where the natural and relaxed hair meets).
- Get a Trim - The only way to stop split ends from travelling up the hair shaft is to trim them off. Prevent splits by 'dusting' which is clipping off a 1/16th inch micro portion of hair every 6-8 week.
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