How To Reset Your Damaged Hair For Spring

In literature, spring is often associated with new beginnings. For some, it means shedding literal weight (in the form of heavy winter boots and those black puffer coats from hell); for others, maybe it means giving up a toxic relationship or a state of mind that's holding you back from all the opportunities ahead.
It also tends to be the time of year most of us desperately want to break out of a hair rut — especially after a season of beanies, scarves, and bitter winter weather. If that means a big chop for you, go for it. But if you're looking for other ways to refresh your dry and damaged hair — without shaving off 12 inches — we've got you covered, too.
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Ahead, the pros' guide to rescuing your natural, relaxed, and colour-treated strands from the longest winter imaginable. It's time to shine, baby.
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Photographed by Rochelle Brock.
If You've Got Natural Hair...

If the winter forecast had you relying on your blowdryer and heat tools more than usual, then you might be noticing a pattern — or lack thereof. "Your curls probably don't have an S-shape anymore," Tamara Laureus, owner of Hairenomics Mane Bar in Brooklyn, New York, says. "Your hair tends to look frizzy and dry. It loses its natural shine."

At this point, some naturalistas opt for the big chop — a haircut that both makes a statement and sheds those dead ends. But that's not the only solution. "I always ask my clients about their daily routines," she says. "How much time do they spend trying to revive it? If it gets to be too much, that's when I suggest the big chop. I think it's big chop is a big step, so I like to work with clients before they make that drastic decision."

The best way to breathe life back into tired curls before pulling out the shears? "Up your conditioning treatments," Laureus says. "I like the TGIN Honey Miracle Mask to deep condition, and Infusium 23 for a daily leave-in. Once a month, you can wash your hair with a moisturising shampoo. But every other week, you must co-wash and always use conditioner. Always use products with little or no alcohol, and try to take a break from heat whenever possible."
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photographed by Courtney Yates; edited by Erin Yamagata.
If You've Got Colour-Treated Hair...

"You’ll know your hair has been damaged by hair colour when the cuticle doesn’t lay flat anymore," Jaxcee, a colourist at Hair Rules salon, says. "Damaged hair is usually frizzy and has a lot less shine due to lightener over-processing. In extreme cases, over-processed lightening can cause the hair to break off entirely. Semi, demi, and permanent hair colour, in most cases, will not leave your hair damaged. Bleach is usually the culprit when not used properly."

To give your strands some TLC, "make sure your post-colour shampoo and conditioner contains sud-free, sulphate-free cleansers — like the Hair Rules Cleansing Cream," Jaxcee says. "If your hair has been over-processed, you can also try an in-salon bond building treatment like Olaplex. Bond building treatments help your hair recuperate after being damaged. They can even be used while colouring to prevent the damage from ever happening in the first place."

In between wash days, Jaxcee says that you must use a good leave-in thermal protector before blowdrying. (Try to keep the heat styling to a minimum, if you can.). "If you're styling damaged or split ends, add an extremely small amount of edge control to the ends of your hair before curling or flat ironing," she suggests. "Doing so will temporarily seal the ends and give the hair a healthy shine."

A little bit of extra attention, combined with trims every three months and a retouch every three weeks (if you're particular about your roots showing) should bring your curls or coils back to the land of the living. "Just keep it moisturised!" Jaxcee notes. "That's what's most important."
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
If You've Got Relaxed Hair...

Take a good look at a handful of your strands. Can you see through them? If so, that's a telltale sign, according to Derick Monroe (who works with Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Rye, and more). "Damaged relaxed hair is thin," he says. "It has excessive shedding, and ends that are dry and frayed." Typically, this happens when you're getting way too many touch-ups. "Get them as much as you need, but at the same time, you're not supposed to overdo it," he says. "Most brands will tell you that six to eight weeks is best."

Like Laureus, Monroe suggests a whole lot of conditioning to get damaged hair to perk up. "Use treatments with plenty of proteins and moisturisers to help build and nourish the hair," he says. The new Dark and Lovely Damage Slayer five-step system contains a hydrating mask that Monroe (who is part of the brand's Style Squad) loves. "I also like the Carol's Daughter Mirabelle Plum line, because it caters to damaged hair. I'm also a fan of going to a salon to get a Dudley's DRC treatment."

An easier fix, in the meantime, is wearing a sew-in weave or clip-ins while giving your real hair some extra care. "Do your protein conditioner or reconstructor once a month, followed by a good moisturising treatment," Monroe says. Just be sure to take care of your extensions just as you would your real hair, or those will get damaged, too. (More on that next...)
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photographed by Courtney Yates; edited by Erin Yamagata.
If You Wear Weaves...

A lot of people use weaves and wigs as a protective style, but even those can get dry without proper care. "High quality virgin human wefted hair and clip-ins can last for up to a year with proper maintenance and care," Vivian Kaye, CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki, says. "As long as you're regularly washing and conditioning the hair and not just tossing it to the side while it's still dirty, it will last."

The best way to revive dull hair is the same way you'd revive your real stuff: with a good wash and deep condition. "Many don't realise that human hair extensions can and should be treated like an 'extension' of your own hair," she says. "Product buildup is very real. To break that buildup down, I like a variety of products for virgin extensions: Aunt Jackie's Curl Lala Curl Defining Custard, Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Cleansing CoWash, Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Leave in Conditioner, and the Elasta QP Olive Oil and Mango Butter Moisturizer."

Sew-in weaves are best kept in for two to three months — especially so you can take out your braids underneath and get a deep conditioning session in. But while your hair is installed, be sure to do a biweekly wash with a moisturising shampoo. And use your styling products and heat tools in moderation to maintain what Kaye calls that "fresh out of the satin bag" look.
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