Feed Your Hair: How To Rebuild Damaged Locks

In our eternal quest to achieve hair worthy of a shampoo commercial, we’ve over-treated our locks with dyes, chemicals, heat styling, and who knows what else. Fortunately, there are things we can do to revive ravaged hair and prevent more damage. We asked Liz Cunnane Phillips, the lead trichologist at New York’s Philip Kingsley hair clinic, and Edward Tricomi, co-owner of Warren-Tricomi Salons, to give us the rundown.

What’s Your Damage?

Peroxide-bleached hair may be out, but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped mistreating our locks. In the last decade, Phillips says, the number of women with damaged hair has shot up thanks to the popularity of Keratin Treatments and Brazilian Blowouts. “Not everyone wants to be a bottle blonde, but most women want sleek and shiny hair,” Phillips says. Even if you avoid chemical treatments, don’t assume you’re off the hook. “Blow dry damage is the most common type of hair damage I come across,” Tricomi tells us. The main downside to overstressed locks? Dry, brittle hair that’s prone to breakage.

The Three Minute Rule

According to Phillips and Tricomi, the biggest styling mistake women make is over-drying their hair. “90 percent of heat damage comes from the last three minutes of blow drying,” says Phillips. “When you blast intense heat on hair that’s already dry, it dehydrates the follicles.” Tricomi adds that it’s important to move quickly because “damage occurs when you stall and keep heat in the same place.” A good rule of thumb: Spritz a protective spray like Oscar Blandi Protein Mist through your hair beforehand, and stop drying hair while it’s still a bit damp.

Treat Your Scalp Like Your Face

You probably don’t pay much attention to your scalp, but you should. “A healthy scalp is the foundation for optimal hair,” Phillips says. Though it sounds a little strange, you should embark on a scalp care routine that mirrors your skincare regime: exfoliating and moisturizing are key. Once a week, apply a gentle scalp mask like Philip Kingsley’s version, which has salicylic acid to slough off flakey skin.

Twice Is Nice

Apply a leave-in conditioning treatment to your hair before and after you subject it to heat. Look for products with natural ingredients like olive oil and argan oil, which are lightweight and nourishing. We’re a big fan of Kérastase Elixir Ultime, which restores strength and elasticity. Get Your Vitamins

Make sure your diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as iron-rich sources of protein. Phillips recommends eating egg whites at breakfast, chicken or fish at lunch, and a small piece of lean red meat twice a week. You can also take a multivitamin formulated to boost hair health — Tricomi likes the over-the-counter Viviscal supplements. Over the course of a few months, the nutrients in a balanced diet will translate into stronger, silkier hair.

Wash Your Way To Great Hair

Limit washing to every other day, and try to avoid shampoos with sulfates: they can strip your hair of its natural oils. Damaged hair needs all the help it can get, so make sure to use a conditioner with smoothing ingredients like shea butter or coconut oil.

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