I’m honored this post has been so highly requested by you all! My hair’s journey back to health has been a long one and I’m so proud of how far it has come. Please keep in mind my hair has recovered over many years and while many things can help damaged hair it may still take a long time to fully recover. The key is to stop further damage from occurring and make sure your new growth stays happy and healthy. For anyone wanting to read about the horrible damage my hair has previously undergone to get a better idea of just how much healthier it is today, please scroll to the bottom of this post. PSA – if you want to see some horrendous old photos those are included as well for a good laugh.
I’ve tried many different products, regimen and overall lifestyle changes throughout the years to help my damaged hair and the below tips are ones that been absolutely life changing and I can’t recommend enough!
Stop using too much heat
One of my hair dressers said this best, she asked me how many food items I bake at 450 degrees at home, to which I had zero responses because what does one actually bake at 450?! So, “then why do you bake your hair at 450 degrees?” To which again I have nothing to say, I had truly never thought of it that way. I always assumed because my hair is super thick and somewhat coarse that I just had to use the highest temperature on my flat iron. Well, let me tell you since that day I haven’t gone a degree about 390 degrees and my hair is just as smooth and my style stays just as long as it did when I used the highest heat possible. I swear since I made this simple change ~1 to 2 years ago (can’t remember exact timing) my hair almost instantly starting feeling and looking so much healthier. I encourage you if you’re using very high heat to start dropping it the temp and assess how your style comes out. Many of you probably don’t even need to use as much heat as me (again very very thick hair), if your hair is on the thinner side try much lower ~300 degrees or less and if your hair is pretty normal try ~350 degrees and decrease if possible.
To further save my hair from heat, I typically let my hair air dry prior to styling it rather than blow drying and then styling with additional heat. I’ve been doing this for years and think it plays a huge role in saving my hair since I do style with heat at least once a week. It is also a MUST to use a heat protectant before using direct heat! Linked below are some of my favorite heat protectants.
Be mindful of hair styles
Like many of us, I tend to have my go to easy hair styles, especially with having a busy schedule in pharmacy. For a while, unfortunately my go to daily hair styles or habits were actually damaging my hair in very specific locations without me even knowing it. I often was putting my hair back in a low but tight bun using a soft scrunchies that I thought would cause no damage BUT I was often putting it into said bun when it was slightly damp from the night before. The repeated action of this caused a lovely zone of damage across the back of my head right around where my low bun usually was. The tight pulling and securing of my hair was repeatedly causing breakage even though at the time it went unnoticed. What I’ve learned and changed in my daily habits since then:
- Avoid putting your hair “up” wet or damp
- Looser is always better – even if you’re using nice big clips or soft scrunchies the tightness and pulling can cause damage on their own
- Hair accessories matter – I only use scrunchies or large claw clips
- Low > high – any high ponytail or bun styles will pull and have a lot more tension than low styles, I almost always opt for loose and low which has helped a ton overtime
Stop fidgeting with your hair
I used to be 100% guilty of this and would play with my hair and brush through it with my fingers all day long. What I also used to do is then continuously brush off all the dead ends and pieces of hair I had ripped out or broken from my lap. It may seem minor at the time but repeated habits of fidgeting with our hair can cause major damage in the end. To keep myself from doing this especially at work I always have a large claw clip with me and I lightly pull it half up or gently twist it in to a floppy bun, both are super easy cute hair styles that keep my hair out of my hands reach. You can view these hair styles on this IG Reel.
Use the right hair brush & hair towels
While this is a super simple switch and change to make the results can really pack a punch! Keep in mind our hair is weakest when wet and if we are using the wrong type of brush or a very abrasive towel we could be causing damage every time we wash our hair without knowing it. I’ve been using wet brushes and these Aquis microfiber towels for many years now and I love knowing that I’m being gentle on my hair when it needs it the most. I literally travel with one of these hair towels and keep the mini Wet brush in my work bag at all times that’s how much I love them! Linking some more affordable options for microfiber towels as well here.
My thoughts on supplements
My stance of diet and supplements for hair growth and overall health shouldn’t surprise you since after all I’m a pharmacist by training, and my stance is this: yes, almost every single one of us can benefit from taking some type of multivitamin to supplement what we aren’t getting daily in our diets BUT do I believe in paying an arm and a leg for marketing gimmicks and “hair growth specific” vitamins? No, not so much. The price mark ups are real my friends, if you don’t believe me next time you’re in the drug store just take a look at the price difference between ZzzQuil and generic Benadryl…all marketing and public perception here. You won’t be seeing me pay a ridiculous $88 per month for Nutrafol and other like products. The truth is we all need vitamins and minerals for our bodies to function and grow optimally and most of us do not get the full amounts of said vitamins and minerals in our diets. When you think about it that way it’s easy to see the potential benefit supplements will have for the health of our hair. So, my general advice is to find a daily multivitamin at a reasonable price point in whatever form you enjoy (tablets, gummies, etc) that contains ingredients like biotin, and collagen if you desire. I’m linking some affordable vitamins with “hair benefits” below here.
Hair products can be incredible at helping to repair damage and make damaged hair look and feel so much better. With that being said hair products can’t prevent or mend all damage which is why the above points and daily practices matter so much! Below I’m linking some of my favorite products and brands. Keep in mind that products with keratin tend to be great for damaged hair but don’t overlook other aspects like moisturizing if dry hair is your biggest issue or color protection if you dye your hair. Since I shampoo once a week I do a triple wash (clarifying –> keratin –> purple shampoo) but if you’re washing your hair more frequently you need to be more gentle. I’d focus on trying different shampoo and conditioners with keratin or repairing properties and don’t be afraid to switch the products up wash to wash I do that all the time! I also use a mask on the bottom half of my hair when I was it, again if you’re washing more frequently no need to do it each time. For products, I always use some kind of serum/cream and oil on the tips. At the moment I am beyond obsessed with the new Olaplex No.9 serum and couldn’t recommend trying it more.
Shampoo & conditioner
Leave in products
To give you a better idea of what my hair has grown back from, here’s a bit more about the horrors in my past hair life… So, to start I’ve always had very coarse, wavy, thick hair that I’ve attempted to tame and smooth which has led to most of the damage. I tried getting my hair chemically straightened twice before but it never gave me the pin-straight look I wanted so then I would flat iron on top of that. My hair damage was never awful (although my hair wasn’t thriving by any means) until about senior year of high school where it got really bad. I had clumps falling out in the shower which I attribute to the shampoo I was possibly using at the time (although this couldn’t have been the only reason) but I didn’t realize how bad it was until my hair was literally lop sided in the back! This was also the time I foolishly tried chemically straightening again and then went to a random salon a week prior to graduation and had a stylist really put the icing on the cake and truly fry my hair off. I went from long damaged-ish hair to shoulder length (yes shoulder length, in the photo below I’m pulling all of my hair forward), hair that was legit fried. Somehow the photos from graduation don’t look awful and my hair held it together for a bit, but during the early years of college the damage was super noticeable and my hair has been slowly recovering since. I will insert some truly horrendous and embarrassing photos here so you can get a better idea of how bad it was and how much it has improved in the last 8 to 9 years, enjoy the laugh with me and thank goodness for the glow up!
As always if you have any questions on this topic you can leave them here or ask me on Instagram (@theluxepharmacist). Thank you for joining me on this wild hair journey!