How I Brought My Hair Back From The Dead

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Confession time: I’m a bottled blonde (big shocker, right?). With the exception of a 2 year brunette phase, I’ve been visiting the salon every 6 weeks for blonde touchups since I was 15. Even when done correctly by expert stylists, so many years of coloring your hair takes its toll on  strands and often times causes quite a bit of damage. Add hair extensions into the mix and you’re just asking for trouble.

About a year ago, it got to a point where my hair was starting to feel like straw; it was completely damaged by all the bleach and hair extensions I’d endured for so many years. I had never really taken care of my hair the way I should, and it occurred to me that if I wanted to preserve its integrity, I would have to make some major changes. It took some very specific products, trial and error, and more patience than I had to get it to the point it is now - a point where I no longer feel terrified to do anything other than a messy bun. For all those who want to know how to fix overly-processed hair, here is a comprehensive step by step guide on how I brought my hair back from the dead.

First things first: I got rid of my hair extensions.

Don’t get me wrong - I miss my hair extensions all the time. Having long hair to do whatever styles you want and look like a glorious mermaid is something I hated giving up. However, I’d had them in for about 5 years, and the mix of tension on my scalp and bleach was causing my hair to stop growing at a normal speed. The good news about this step is that you can easily use clip-ins as an alternative for special occasions while you’re waiting for your hair to reach tip top shape.

I stopped washing my hair every day.

Odds are you probably already know not to wash your hair every day. In case you don't - the reason for this is that washing too often can strip your hair of oils necessary for protecting your strands from environmental factors. If you can manage to wean yourself off, the oil production will actually decrease (so you won't need to wash it as much anyway). I highly recommend investing in a dry shampoo to use between washes and extend styles - it'll even give you a bit of volume if you need it!

I cut off the damage...all of it.

This step was by far the scariest of all. I had never had short hair before, and cutting off 4 inches of damaged strands was a huge commitment that I wasn’t 100% sure I was ready for. Truth be told, the day my stylist told me it would be best to cut off the damage happened around the time I was jonesing for a lob, so I was very happy with it. My advice would be to  think long and hard before cutting off excess amounts of damage - it may take years to grow back what you lost.

I committed to using a hair mask once every week.

It took me a minute to figure out that my hair needed both protein and moisture, two benefits that are not necessarily mutually exclusive in a hair mask. I happen to live in a very dry climate, so both are necessary for my hair to be in its best shape. To make sure it was getting everything it needs, I would apply a coconut oil mask one week and a moisturizing mask the next. Over time, it slowly started to show improvement.

I fell in love with and married the Oribe Gold Lust Shampoo and Conditioner.

If you’ve had a conversation with me about what I use for my hair, odds are I’ve raved about the Oribe Gold Lust line. Sans exaggeration or agenda, I am telling you that this shampoo and conditioner literally changed the texture and quality of my hair. While you will most definitely see results after one use, it works best over time as it progressively repairs and restores your hair back to its optimal health.


dry damaged or over proteinized


I cut down on heat styling.

The biggest trick behind this step was getting to know my hair and understanding what I needed to do in order to style it without heat. Now that I’ve been doing it fairly regularly, it’s pretty easy: for instance, if I want curls, I’ll opt for braids instead of a curling iron. I usually will shower a few hours before I go to sleep so it will have time to dry and not get any weird kinks. If I absolutely have to heat style my hair, I commit to doing so only once per week tops.

I switched up my styling products.

I have super baby fine hair that requires a little bit of work if I want any sort of volume. Unfortunately, my stylist required that I stopped using volumizing and thickening products for a spell, as it’s not great for the health of your hair. Instead, I opted for the R+Co Badlands Dry Shampoo Paste for texture and the Enjoy Conditioning Spray to add extra hydration and tame any flyaways. This results in a laid back, Free People sort of hairdo (can't say I'm complaining).

I started trimming regularly.

This won’t necessarily get your hair to grow back any faster, however it will prevent split ends from traveling up the hair shift (which WILL stop your hair from growing). Cutting them off also improves the appearance of your hair by making it look thicker and fuller rather than littered with stragglers.

I take my vitamins!

Now, I’m not recommending everyone do this because I’m certainly no doctor, HOWEVER - taking a prenatal multivitamin made both my hair and nails grow like crazy. The reason I’m taking a prenatal as opposed to a regular multivitamin is because it’s richer in folic acid, biotin and iron - all of which are linked to hair, skin and nail health.

Last but certainly not least - I take care of my body.

Hair health is obviously linked to your overall health; for me, this means getting the right nutrition, exercising, drinking enough water, and getting plenty of sleep. Odds are if you're eating processed junk food, smoking, and drinking excessively, your hair is going to reflect that. Always be nice to your body, beauties - it's the only one you have!

repair damaged hair

Posted by Sadie Upwall

Project Manager and Editor for the best little beauty business in SLC.

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