Can Heat Damaged Hair Be Repaired? Here Are 15 Awesome Tips
By Jacqueline Samaroo
Can heat damaged hair be repaired? Technically, no. Sorry. Once your hair has been damaged by heat, the damage is done and it can’t be reversed.
However, there are ways to strengthen your hair, make it shinier, restore its curl pattern, and nurture it while your new growth comes in to replace the damaged strands. That’s what we mean when we talk about repairing hair that’s been damaged by heat.
We’ll share some options on how to repair heat damaged hair without cutting it – if that drastic step is only a last resort or simply a no-no for you.
Here’s what’s covered in this article.
- What is heat damaged hair?
- What does heat damaged hair look like?
- How to fix heat damaged hair
- Ingredients you’ll find in the best products for heat damaged hair
What is heat damaged hair?
Each strand of hair is mostly made up of strands of protein that are bonded together. The protein gives the hair its structure and strength, as well as contributes to its elasticity and springiness.
Heat damaged hair is hair that has been exposed to very high heat, usually repeatedly. This causes the protein bonds in the hair to break. The hair becomes weaker, splits easily, and is more prone to breakage.
Plus, the excess or repeated heat also damages the cuticle (outer layer) of the hair. This exposes the inner layer or cortex to more damage.
What does heat damaged hair look like?
If you have heat damaged hair, here’s what you are likely to see instead of the beautiful springy coils and bouncy curls that you’re used to.
- Hair that is very dry and dull.
- An increase in split ends and hair breakage.
- More frequent knots and tangles.
- Frizziness that doesn’t respond to your usual frizz tamers.
- Hair that is harder to style.
- Hair that has taken on a rough or stringy texture.
- Lost curl pattern and limp, straighter hair.
- A change in hair color.
- Increased hair fall and hair loss.
How to fix heat damaged hair – 15 Tips
OK, so, we have already said you can’t repair heat damaged hair. So, what you need to do is get into damage-control mode. Here’s how to fix heat damaged hair so it looks better, feels better, and doesn’t’ get damaged further.
- Use moisturizing deep conditioners and hair masks. These will help add moisture to your strands and seal that moisture in. The overall effect will be hair that is plumper, thicker-looking, and restored to its natural curl pattern.
- Use leave-in conditioners, too, to keep your hair moisturized. Deep conditioners and hair masks are usually used weekly, at most. In between these times, you can keep your hair hydrated and moisturized with a good leave-in conditioner.
- Do a protein treatment. Or, use protein-based conditioners. These will help to temporarily restore the broken protein bonds and strengthen your hair against further damage.
- Do hot oil treatments. These nourish your hair and help to restore shine. Find out more about the benefits of a hot oil treatment and how to DIY your own. You can also check out our post on the benefits of oil rinsing and why it’s a good option for restoring healthy hair.
- Avoid shampooing too often. Shampoos don’t just remove dirt and grime. They also strip your scalp and hair of beneficial sebum (a natural oily/waxy substance). This leaves your hair drier and more brittle.
- When you do shampoo – Focus on your scalp and roots, not the length of your hair. Also, use cool or lukewarm water instead of hot or too-warm water on your hair.
- Choose your haircare products with care. Avoid drying ingredients, such as parabens, sulfates, alcohols, and peroxide, avoid silicones too as they build up on hair and may be hard to remove
- Avoid over manipulation of your hair. Your heat damaged hair is in a fragile state and the strands will break much more easily than normal. Excessive combing, brushing, and styling (even with your fingers) will rough up your weakened strands and lead to breakage.
- Avoid heat styling tools. Keep the original culprits (your curling iron, blow dryer, hot hair rollers, flat iron, and curling wand) away from the victim (your heat damaged tresses). They have done enough damage – no need to subject your hair to more.
- Use heat protectant. If you simply can’t do without heat styling, then your best approach is to use heat protectant EVERY TIME you use heat styling tools.
- Avoid tight and sleek styles. There are hairstyles for heat damaged hair that will help to minimize further damage and protect your strands. Go for loose styling when possible and use low-tension protective styles such as twists and box braids.
- Avoid chemical treatments. Chemical processing of any kind weakens your hair. If you already have heat damaged hair, try to stay away from relaxers, perms, dyes, and bleach.
- Protect your hair. If you haven’t done so before, now is the time to invest in a silk pillowcase, silk hair bonnet, and silk hair accessories, such as scrunchies and headwraps. These are super soft and will not rough up or dry out your hair. While you are at it, switch out your terry cotton towel for a microfiber towel or turban that will soak excess water from your hair without the need for rubbing. Apart from wrapping your hair or wearing a bonnet while you sleep, you can also do up your curls in a pineapple or in loose twists before you hit the sack.
- Talk to your stylist. They’ve likely had other clients who had to deal with heat damage. They can assess the degree of damage to your hair and help you plan how to counter it.
- Get regular trims. If you want to avoid cutting your hair, at least consider getting your ends clipped about every 4-6 weeks. That said there are tapered and TWA hairstyles well worth considering. If you are up to starting over with a clean slate, then a total shave might be just the thing!
Be sure to also check out:
Ingredients you’ll find in the best products for heat damaged hair
Protein – Collagen, silk protein, keratin, and wheat protein are good examples.
Hair oils – Olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil, avocado oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil are great choices.
Hair butters – While shea butter and cocoa butter are the two most popular examples, there are plenty of other great-for-your-hair hair butters. Click here for some examples.
Aloe vera – It’s loaded with fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins for healthy and strong hair.
Rice water – Its inositol helps to repair the strands on the inside. Find out how to do your own rice water rinse, here!
Have you had to deal with heat damaged hair? Share any tips you have!
I obliterated my hair in college. I had finally started stepping into my power—learning to wash and condition it for the first time in my life, but not to embrace my curls and show them some much-needed love, but to straighten it anytime I wanted. At that time in my life, I only felt pretty when it was bone straight, and to have the ability to straighten it myself, at anytime, which translated to allllll the time, I felt free! And apparently totally free enough to completely ruin my hair. By senior year I was embracing the puff and slowly snipping away the heat damage from the previous two years- which for me didn’t alter my curl pattern, it just left me prone to breakage, split ends, and white dots on those ends—at the point of the white dot, the hair would break off if you looked at it wrong or if the wind blew lol. In addition to frequent self-trimming (usually the ends of my twists), I also made sure to do frequent deep moisturizing treatments, and I added protein into the mix, too. To this day, I still use Aphogee’s 2 minute Reconstructor and their leave-in conditioner which is also a GREAT heat protectanct (which will help to prevent further damage). Here’s the ingredient list for both products. In both products, it’s the hydrolized keratin for me. That means the keratin is small enough to actually penetrate the strands and do its magic! VERY effective.
ApHogee’s 2 Minute Reconstructor:
Water (Aqua, Eau), Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearalkonium Chloride, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum, Huile Minerale), Cetearyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Phytantriol, Petrolatum, Polysorbate 60, Amodimethicone, Stearyl Alcohol, Polyquaternium-10, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Trideceth-12, Cetrimonium Chloride, Collagen Amino Acids, Squalane, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Linoleic Acid, Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Trimethylsiloxyamodimethicone, C11-15 Pareth-7, C12-16 Pareth-9, Linolenic Acid, Citric Acid, DMDM Hydantoin, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate.
Water (Aqua, Eau), Amodimethicone, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Phytantriol, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, PPG-2 Methyl Ether, Polyquaternium-11, Trideceth-12, Cetrimonium Chloride, Aminopropyl Dimethicone, Laureth-23, Laureth-4, Trimethylsiloxyamodimethicone, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Linoleic Acid, Aminomethyl Propanol, C11-15 Pareth-7, Collagen Amino Acids, C12-16 Pareth-9, Glycerin, Linolenic Acid, Citric Acid, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylparaben, Fragrance (Parfum).
There’s also another Holy Grail strengthening product with more natural ingredients I swear by called Aubrey GPB which helps fortify and nourish damaged areas with Glycoprotein and milk protein. I’ll share its ingredients as well.
Aubrey Organics GPB:
Aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) fruit*, cetyl alcohol (from coconut oil), glyceryl stearate (from vegetable oils), cetearyl alcohol (from coconut oil), caprylic/capric triglyceride (from coconut oil), leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate, alcohol denat.* (38b, lavender), glycerin*, milk protein, lactobacillus eriodictyon californicum ferment extract**, phospholipids**, stearic acid, tussilago farfara (coltsfoot) leaf extract, equisetum hiemale (horsetail) extract, urtica dioica (nettle) extract, salvia officinalis (sage) oil*, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil*, sodium cocoyl glutamate (from coconut oil), citrus grandis (grapefruit) extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), hydrolyzed wheat protein (gluten-free), stearyl dimonium hydroxypropyl laurylglucosides chloride (biodegradable, from coconut oil), natural fragrance. *Certified organic Glycoprotein Natural isolate blend sourced from essential oils
Let me know if you try any of my faves in the comments section below!