6 Must-Know Tips For Damage Control on Broken Hair

Janell M. Hickman
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With styles like platinum strands, box braids and silky straight hair trending, we often forget that looking great can go sometimes wrong. Chemical treatments (ranging from bleach to relaxers) and hair extensions (weaves, braids, and sewn-in extensions) can result in excessive damage causing short, broken strands to pop up long your hair line. Before you start to freak out, read below for six expert tips to help get your edges from looking like hedges (well, almost!).

Rule #1: Approach chemicals with caution.
“There is so much that can go wrong with [at-home] chemical services,” shares Aveda Global Artistic Director for Hairstyling, Allen Ruiz. “It’s in your best interest to go to an expert who will take precautions to protect the integrity of your hair.” The most risky of the bunch? Bleach and relaxers. “Bleaching is damaging because it removes the melanin from your hair which weakens the cuticle,” shares Kerry Washington’s mane man, Larry Sims. “It also takes most of the moisture out of the hair, causing strands to become dry, brittle and weak.”

MORE: Ask an Expert: How Can I Go From Dark Brunette to Platinum Blonde?

Rule #2: Know where you stand.
Not sure if you have fragile hair? Conduct a quick strand test. “Take a few strands around your hairline and [gently] tug them,” shares celebrity hairstylist Ro Morgan. “If they snap easily, avoid tight hairstyles or chemicals [like color, bleach and relaxers] that are too strong.” Sims, who also works with Gabrielle Union and Lupita Nyong’o,  recommends analyzing your hair density as well. “You can also tell [if your hair is fragile] when the curl pattern (or texture) is different throughout your hair,” he adds.

Rules #3: Tight braids and extensions are also a no-no. 
“If you start to see the hair bulb (white dot) on the hair above root…there’s a problem!” warns Morgan. Sims agrees, “Nothing has to be that tight — as long as it’s secure and comfortable. Installations don’t last longer because the foundation is too tight, they last due to a good technique.” In this instance, research is key. “There are so many different types of extensions, so see a specialist to find which extensions are best for your hair type,” advises Ruiz.

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Rule #4: Stimulate your scalp. 
“Benefits from scalp massage include the exfoliation of dead cells, which can cause excess build-up,” shares Ruiz who’s worked with Leighton Meester and Arizona Muse. “It helps to increase blood stimulation in the scalp resulting in healthy hair growth.” Morgan, who works with model Joan Smalls is a fan of natural oils including rosemary, peppermint, coconut, burdock root oil, jojoba, and lavender oil. “To create the shampoo bowl experience at-home, take an oil of your choice and apply to the scalp. Next, massage into your scalp for 10-15 minutes before shampooing.”

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Rule #5: Find products to promote growth.
Frequent stimulation and maintaining a clean, healthy scalp are key in restoring a broken hairline. Ruiz recommends using a shampoos like Aveda’s Invati Exfoliating Shampoo to nourish your scalp and strands. “To rebuild the hair line I suggest using Phyto’s Phytolium 4 and  Design Essentials DEEP Fortifying Treatment weekly,” advises Morgan. For styling needs, Sims is a fan of Smooth ‘n Shine GroPro Crème Oil, made with coconut, Moroccan, grape seed oils and aloe vera extract to help keep tresses strong. However, he avoids  products with alcohol as a key  ingredient — especially in gels and hairsprays.

Rule #6: Again, avoid trying this at-home
“I would never recommend a client to bleach their hair at home,” emphasizes Morgan. Apart from resulting in a “spotty” dye job, the damage can be irreversible. “Leave the chemical treatments to professionals if you can afford it,” warns Sims. “Most salons offer complimentary consultations for all chemical services,” Ruiz informs us. “Take full advantage of these consultations so you can be fully informed.”