Sunday, March 15, 2009

What Can I Do About Damaged Hair & Split Ends

There are a million products out there that claim to repair split ends.

Under a microscope you can actually see the fraying of the hair that looks somewhat like a broken twig.Since hair is not alive it cannot repair itself.Products that claim to repair this damage are actually just smoothing out and sealing the damage.When the product is removed the damage still exists and unfortunately cannot be repaired much as a twig cannot really be repaired.
These products are great for hiding the damage from eyesight until the damage has grown out or been cut off.

What works and why?

The actual structure of the hair consists of 3 parts.The cuticle or outside layer,the cortex or middle layer and the medulla which is the core of the hair shaft.

In fine thin and fragile hair the medulla, or core of the hair is smaller and in some cases almost non existent.

Since this is the layer that holds you hair together a weak medulla can actually make your hair more susceptible to breakage.

Using a protein reconstructor can strengthen all 3 layers of the hair shaft to help avoid breakage by filling any weak spots with proteins like keratin which you hair is naturally made of.A word of caution here though..More is not always better.You can get an overload of protein in your hair which when the proteins harden instead of making the hair shaft stronger can actually make it brittle and cause it to snap even easier! Limit your hairs protein intake to no more than one treatment per week.

The middle layer or cortex of the hair shaft is affected greatly by perms and hair color.This is where the majority of your hair color is stored so over coloring can weaken this layer very easily.In overly processed hair these chemicals damage the integrity of the medulla as well causing breakage.Avoid overly processing your hair with chemicals to keep the core strength of your hair in tact.
In the photo here you can see the dark spots are actually melanin granules in the cortex(middle layer) of the hair where it is stored.
Outside of the cortex is the cuticle which is much like shingles that are opened with chemicals to allow for penetration of hair color and perms.
Other chemicals in these processes close the cuticle back down .
Heat styling can break down the cuticle layer of your hair also causing it to become rough and brittle.
Once the cuticle layer is overly damaged it will no longer be able to close down sufficiently.This causes the hair to feel rougher and catch easier on combs and brushes causing snapping fraying and breakage.
Daily conditioners smooth over this outer layer of the hair.Use a conditioner that is sufficient enough to eliminate most tangles and knots smoothing them out to make brushing less damaging.
Always use some sort of heat protection when you blow dry and heat style.A product to make flat irons glide over the shaft is helpful as well.
A good brush with as little drag as possible will do wonders for your hair.
Trimming split ends are a necessity.When your brush catches on the ends of your hair it only causes your hair to split higher up on the shaft leaving a new shorter split mangled end.
Just use common sense and don't expect miracles.Repairing damage takes time so in the mean time strengthen what you have now to prevent more damage, hide the damage you have as best you can, and baby your hair so you can minimize future damage.


  1. Wow that was insightful!

    I do have a problem with my hair getting knotted up if i dont condition it...

  2. You should ALWAYS always use conditioner!Especially fine hair due to the fact that it breaks easier.And your hair stretches more and breaks easier wet.If you try to go without conditioner due to weighing your hair down, do like I said and clarify then condition.Another option is putting your conditioner right on top of your shampoo then rinse them both at once.It buffers the conditioner so it doesnt weigh your hair down but still detangles and smooths the shaft.