Even if you’ve treated your hair like it belongs on the head of a doll instead of your own, it doesn’t mean your only post-damage recovery route is a pixie cut.
Saving your hair is possible, all it takes is regular “dustings” (like a trim but even shorter), stepping-up your hair care routine, and foregoing heat at least once and awhile. We tapped celeb stylist and Moroccanoil’s Artistic Director, Kevin Hughes for his guide on how to bring damaged hair back to life without compromising length.
Get Regular Trims
To maintain your length while doing away with damage, haircuts are non-negotiable. They shouldn’t be regular cuts that take inches off, however. The last thing you want when preserving length is a drastic cut – that would undo the damage but be the equivalent of giving up your chance at long hair for months.“When someone is trying to maintain as much length as possible and / or trying to grow their hair out as fast as they can, I recommend doing regular trims or what I like to refer to as a dusting of the ends,” says Kevin. Make sure your stylist is familiar with the term “dusting” before you commit to the cut – this is not the time to let anyone get scissor happy on you.
While you do have to cut some of your damaged ends off to maintain hair health, there’s a sliding scale on how often you need to do so. “Everyone is different as far as the health of their hair, some fine heads of hair tend to get very damaged ends very quickly whereas some thick, coarse heads of hair can go months before their hair looks like it needs a trim. Also, everyone’s hair grows at different paces, but the average is ½ inch a month. So, I recommend dusting your ends whenever you see that hair become unhealthy looking,” explains Kevin.
A dusting can be as little as a ¼ inch – trust and believe, that small amount of hair coming off your ends will make a noticeable difference. “Continuing routine trims is important because once hair starts to split at the ends, it can continue to split up the hair shaft, so you are stopping those split ends in their tracks. And if you do a dusting every 6 weeks, and only taking ¼ inch, you will be gaining length to your hair while maintaining optimal health,” says Kevin.
To stop or prevent damage, know how to recognize it. It’s definitely time to trim your hair when you can see through the ends of the hair or when you have trouble styling the hair because the ends never look healthy. However, if you continue dusting your ends every 6 weeks, your ends should improve over time and eliminate the need for a big chop.
How you cut your hair is also important, and Kevin cautions against using a razor. Instead, use super sharp hair cutting shears which will leave your ends very blunt and give the healthiest appearance. If you plan to DIY (we get that going to a stylist every 6 weeks can add up) you can find the right scissors at a beauty supply store for about $30-$50. “These are not professional shears that stylists use, our shears run about $800 and up, but these lower end shears will give you a much better result than fabric shears,” Kevin notes.
Use the Right Products
Aside from cutting, the right products can help revive your hair, but the key to getting actual results is to choose products for the particular kind of damage you’re dealing with. “If you are trying to gain length and have hair that tends to be more damaged, try the Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask as it’s full of protein that helps to strengthen the hair. This mask can be used once a week and should be followed by a conditioner like Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Conditioner,” he recommends. Don’t forget that whenever you do a protein treatment you should follow it with a daily conditioner to keep the hair soft.
Prevent reoccurring damage
One of the best ways to prevent future damage is to avoiding heat styling. To do that, air dry whenever possible, but add in with some really good products to create definition – you won’t even miss the heat. You can also air dry with braids or a top-knot to create a wave. Kevin suggests using a penetrating hair mask once a week, he likes Moroccanoil’s Hydrating or Restorative hair mask options.
If you are going to heat style, use a heat protectant like Moroccanoil’s Perfect Defense; it will guard your locks against temps of up to 450 degrees “though you should never have your hot tools turned up to the highest heat setting,” he warns. A heat defense product will also help to protect against thermal damage and preserve your color. “Your hair will thank you for it!” he says.