Desperate for longer, thicker hair? The good news is, there are simple steps you can try at home to fix overprocessed locks and dry, damaged hair. Years of over-styling, skipping heat protectant (guilty!) and not using the right products can leave you with breaking, thinning hair that refuses to grow past your shoulders.
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We spoke to celebrity hairstylist Tom Smith from top London salon Billi Currie, who gave us the lowdown on how to get healthier hair at home. And yes, it is down to the way you treat your locks and the kinds of products you use – invest in a quality conditioner, mask, shampoo or heat protectant, and the results will speak for themselves.
Getting healthy hair starts with your home habits
How can you tell if your hair is damaged?
By how it looks and how it feels. damaged hair can appear dull and limp, unevenly wavy or frizzy. It can also look thin on the ends and around the face. Damaged hair can feel rough, tangly and coarse or very slimy and stretchy when wet.
What causes damaged hair?
Hair can be damaged by a variety of sources. We split these into three categories, mechanical, chemical or thermal damage. Mechanical damage comes from friction and wear and tear on the hair. This can be brushing the hair too roughly, tying it up too tightly or using poor quality hairbands or grips. It can also happen from friction rubbing on the headrest of your car, getting tangled while you sleep during the night or wearing too tight hats.
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Chemical damage comes from chemical aggressors such as non professional hair colorants, misuse of professional hair colour, extreme bleaching, perming or chemical straightening, but also from exposure to extremely hard water or chlorine. Thermal damage comes from heat - this can be from washing in too hot water, from excessive blowdrying or from curling tongs or straightening irons.
How can you repair damaged hair at home - any simple tips?
Conditioners and hair masks soften roughened areas of hair or add protein to fill in overprocessed areas but these tend to be cosmetic fixes rather than cures.
The two products I recommend for home use are very innovative, science-led formulas that make a fundamental change to the molecular structure of the hair. Olaplex No.3 home treatment and K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair mask. Most other products will make your hair feel better until you can get to a salon but won't be fixing the underlying problem.
Olaplex No.3, £52, Cult Beauty
HELLO!'s Lifestyle Managing Editor Kate says: "I have been using the K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Mask for three months and have been raving about it to anyone who will listen. I've never been a fan of leave-in conditioners before, but this has made my curly, frizz-prone hair smooth and far more manageable - and I've noticed a huge change in how healthy it looks."
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K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Mask, £67.69 / $79.99, Amazon
What shampoo is best for damaged hair?
Shampoo is important as it is used while your hair is most vulnerable, shampoo alone will not repair your hair but should be chosen based on your hair type and the level of protection your hair needs. Shampooing in cooler water will minimise colour and moisture loss from your hair. My recommendations for best shampoos are Evo Ritual Salvation and Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo.
Evo Ritual Salvation, £18, Feel Unique
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How important are heat protectors?
Using direct heat on the hair increases loss of internal moisture levels and strength of the hair and also dramatically increases colour fade, heat protection products will help but it's better to minimise heat styling as much as possible. My favourite heat protectors are, Evo Happy Campers, Evo Icon Welder, Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray and Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil.
Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray, £55, Cult Beauty
What are the benefits of leave-in conditioners?
To add a layer of moisture, barrier or protection on your hair and make it more supple and shiny. Think about how different your face feels after cleansing before and after using serum or moisturiser.
Science-led leave-in products such as K18 and Olaplex No. 6 and 7 go a step further by having a positive effect on the molecular structure of your hair, too.
How important is your diet in helping get healthier hair?
A healthy body is needed to produce healthy hair and a healthy diet the biggest contributing factor to your overall health. Changes in lifestyle or diet often take three months plus to show in the hair as changes will only affect the new hair that grows from your scalp rather than the existing hair grown.
Invest in hero hair products to lock in moisture
Do hair supplements actually work?
Supplements can be effective at making sure your body has the correct nutrients to grow healthy hair. Your hair is not essential for you to survive and so will be the first to be compromised if you are not as healthy as you could be. Hair supplements ensure you have plenty of the necessary building blocks for healthy hair in your system so that the hair gets the benefit of them.
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It is a long-term commitment for three to six months minimum to see the effects and won't change your biological hair type. It will just ensure your hair grows the healthiest possible that your hair can.
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