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Hair Damage 101

The EVOLVh consult line is the best way for us to keep our finger on the pulse of all that you’re looking for in haircare. We hear from long time EVOLVhers and those looking to begin their journey with us for the first time alike. It is so heartening to read about your passion for your hair, your angst over the problems you haven’t been able to solve yet, your thirst for education, and your questions about how you can achieve your healthiest hair ever.

We so appreciate your questions, the thoughts on current hair trends, and especially your photos – please keep them coming.

Concerns about damage are foremost on many of your hair minds, so we’re dedicating not one, but two blog posts to this topic. Here’s the first…

Recognizing Healthy Hair:

Hair is soft and smooth.

Healthy hair never feels brittle or dry.

Minimal shedding.

Your hair responds well to moisture (i.e. when faced with excessive moisture in the air, your hair should maintain its natural texture – if your strands are naturally straight they will stay that way, if they are curly they will remain curly, etc.)

You experience minimal breakage.

Your locks are shiny.

Your hair has elasticity.

Your scalp is free of dandruff.

Your hair does not tangle easily.

Your hair is clean and not overly oily.

Recognizing Damaged Hair:

Hair has a rough texture.
Hair is overly porous (see below).
Hair is dry and brittle to the touch.
Hair lacks elasticity and/or is susceptible to breakage.
Hair becomes spongy and matted when wet.

Hair color fades or absorbs too rapidly.
The most readily visible signs of damaged hair - rough texture, over-porosity, dryness, and brittleness - are generally caused by damage to and over extension of the cuticle layer of the hair shaft. This can come from blow-drying, wind, harsh shampoos, chemical treatments, as well as other heat-styling methods and environmental factors.

Pro Tip: Conduct the “hair water test” by taking a couple of strands of your hair and dropping them into a bowl of water. Let them sit in the bowl for about two to four minutes. Observe your hair. If your hair is floating in the water, you have low porosity. If your hair is sinking, you have high porosity.

Damage Concern: Split Ends

80% of those coming to the consult line have split ends so this is perhaps one of the most common damage concerns we’ve seen. Split ends occur when the ends of your hair become dry, brittle and frayed – resembling the end of an unraveled rope. Also caused by exposure to extreme weather conditions, and hair care techniques such as chemical services, blow drying, straightening and curling.  

Of course, many of us have taken a break from pro haircuts, but it’s a good rule of thumb to ask your stylist to trim just the split ends every 10 to 12 weeks (when it’s safe to do so).

Many products claim to repair split ends, but that is really difficult to do - ultimately they’ll need to be trimmed off. But softening them and holding them together temporarily to get that smooth shiny texture is doable with leave-ins (like ours), cream products (SuperCurl or SuperFinish), and mask treatments (UltraRepair).

Over time, the best approach is to keep hair heathy with frequent trimmings and a mask that will help you avoid split ends in the  future.

Damage Concern: Breakage

Ranking up there with split ends, is the mention of breakage from our consults. If your hair breaks easily, it's probably either very fine, very dry (lacking internal hydration), or has been overly bleached/processed and lost its elasticity. Hair color always fades eventually, but it will fade more quickly when hair is damaged. To keep hair from becoming more porous and brittle, avoid bleach, shampoo infrequently, and only get highlights every eight weeks.

Add strength and moisture by using a conditioning treatment with natural oils, such as UltraRepair.

Be sure to drink plenty of water, and take a biotin supplement - it can take up to six months to see results, but it works!

Damage Concern: Overexposure To The Sun

Yes, it’s summertime, and we do hope that you are taking the time to get outside and enjoy nature safely. Just don’t forget that your hair needs sun protection just as your skin does.

If you have fine or light colored hair, you’re even more susceptible to damaging rays. The sun is actually one of the most common natural factors that damage hair, and when you can’t determine another reason, it is typically sun and/or weather. Summer sun, tends to bleach the hair naturally. You’ll find that hair is lighter on the top of your head than on your bottom layers. The hair on the crown of your head is more exposed to the continuous glare of the sun.

UVA and UVB rays can damage the outside cover of the hair strand, called the cuticle. This results in discoloration, dry and brittle strands, broken or split ends, thinning and frizziness.

What to do if you want to be outside during the summer but don’t want a headful of frizzy, dull and damaged hair?

Use products with built-in natural SPF protection – such as our leave-ins and styling products.

Wrap a scarf around your hair, wear a wide-brimmed hat (Coolibar SPF 50 hats, wraps, and hair bands are our go-to), or consider an umbrella.

Go out early or late in the day, just as you would to protect your skin.

Damage Fixes:

Unfortunately, there is no “instant” fix for damaged hair. It will take time to “heal” the hair in order to regain its healthy shine and manageability. But there is some good news...

By using gentle shampoos (no nasties) and conditioners that are pH balanced, protein enriched, and moisture restoring, you can smooth the cuticle layer and protect the hair shaft from further damage. When hair is damaged it's important to use a good, moisture-rich conditioning treatment every week until it shows improvement, and to use a light spray-on, leave-in conditioner daily during styling.

Do this in conjunction with treating the hair carefully while styling and you’ll see dramatic improvements, we promise!

Stay tuned for Hair Damage 102 coming to the EVOLVher Journal next week. Be sure to sign up for our emails to get all of our exclusive content and first dibs on special offers directly to your inbox.