The 3R™ Damaged Hair Restoration System
By Susan Walker, Founder & Creative Director of Earthtones Naturals 

If your hair has extensive damage then you’ll definitely want to implement some effective strategies to improve its health.
Since there is no way to really permanently repair damaged areas,
preventing further damage and addressing existing issues will enhance
the look and condition of your hair. I’ve developed a simple 3-step
program to successfully accomplish this.

1. Remove
This goes without saying. If what you’re doing right now is contributing
negatively to the state of your hair then either stop or reduce the
frequency with which you are doing it. If you’re wearing your hair in
tight ponytails as your go-to style and your hairline is non-existent as
a result then you’ll need to find another style. If you’re cleansing
your hair with a shampoo that contains harsh sulfates then you’ll need
to improve your choice of cleansers. Examine any physical manipulation
or chemical processing that is part of your hair care regimen that is
contributing to increased damage.

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Common causes of natural hair damage include:

  • Chemical processing 
  • Dyeing hair 
  • Flat ironing or using excessive heat 
  • Over manipulation 
  • Using sulfate rich shampoos 

2. Repair
Conditioning is going to be the cornerstone of your program.
Conditioners play key roles in enhancing the look and feel of damaged
hair. If your hair is dry and brittle then a deep conditioner is your
best friend. Intense conditioners that are penetrating are able to enter
the hair shaft and deposit proteins and moisturizing agents to assist
with repairing damaged areas and hydrate the hair. They can also deposit
oils onto the hair or within the hair. Coconut oil is a great oil to
look for in a deep conditioner since it can penetrate into the hair
shaft and prevent protein loss from the hair. These conditioners are
usually left on the hair for 20-30 minutes and can be used with heat for
deeper penetration. These should be used every 1-2 weeks for optimal

For severely damaged hair a reconstructor may be needed,
especially if the hair is breaking and has lost elasticity. These types
of conditioners contain proteins of different molecular weights to fill
in cracks in damaged areas on and within the hair shaft. Protein is not
your enemy! You do need it in appropriate amounts to provide support and
strength to the hair. Monthly reconstructive treatments (if necessary)
combined with weekly deep conditioning should effectively improve the
condition of your hair.

3. Replenish
Moisture is a curly girl’s best friend and after deep conditioning and
reconstructive treatments, an effective moisturizer is extremely
important. Moisturizers hydrate dry brittle hair and correct moisture
imbalances. If hair is dry and brittle then it’s desperately in need of
hydration. It’s imperative that lost moisture is replenished in order to
minimize damage due to dryness and prevent future occurrences.
Water-based products will hydrate the hair and oils can be used to seal
in the moisture and replace any lipids that have been removed from the
hair from the overuse of sodium lauryl sulfate based shampoos or heat.

How to Moisturize and Replenish:

  • Try the LOC Method or the LCO Method 
  • Use water based leave-ins and moisturizers 
  • Seal your moisturizers with oil to protect from the elements 

Lastly, REJOICE! You’re on your way to improving your hair’s condition and having healthier
looking hair.

What are your damage-repairing strategies? How effective are they?

This article was originally published in August 2012 and has recently been updated for grammar and clarity.