So you've fried your hair. You got a little crazy with the curling iron, you stayed out in the sun for days on end, or maybe your colorist went overboard dying your black hair platinum. In any case, even if your hair feels like straw, the good news is: There's relief.
Meet the Expert
- Robert Ramos is an Emmy-nominated hairstylist and co-owner of LA-based Ramos Carreon Salon. His clientele includes Jessica Alba, Eva Mendes, and Nick Jonas.
- Garren is a celebrity hairstylist who has worked with Farrah Fawcett, Karlie Kloss, and Victoria Beckham. He is the co-founder of R+Co.
- Leo Izquierdo is the cofounder of the haircare line IGK Haircare.
First, you'll want to give the hot tools (like flat irons and curling irons) a break as much as possible. Next, we recommend getting some one-on-one time in with your stylist and committing to a trim every three weeks.
Lastly, keep reading for our tips on how to fix fried hair damage. With a lot of TLC and patience, your hair will be back to its old glory in no time.
Deep conditioner is your new best friend, well, at least in your haircare routine. Look for a product that contains keratin and is labeled for dry, damaged hair. Run product throughout hair and leave on for several minutes. The product will absorb into your hair shaft and help soften hay-like strands. Take your shower conditioning a step further by placing a plastic cap on and letting the steam do its thing.
We suggest deep conditioning twice a week for the first couple of weeks, then continuing once a week.
Deep conditioners we recommend include:
- Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask ($64)
- Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask ($28)
- Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner ($28)
Refrain from washing your hair every day to prevent stripping it of its natural oils. If you take a shower but opt not to wash your hair, protect your hair with a shower cap.
Bring in the Blow-dryer
For this fix, you need a conditioner with cetyl alcohol, according to Robert Ramos in InStyle. "It's an ultra rich fatty acid that helps hair retain moisture," says Ramos. A great conditioner is Kerastase Masquintense ($56). Comb conditioner through hair, then blast it with a hair-dryer for 15 minutes before rinsing.
Try an Ultra Conditioning Treatment
We love this recipe shared by celebrity stylist Chris McMillan outlined in Allure. (You may know McMillan as Jennifer Aniston's hairstylist):
- Step 1: Mix in a bowl 2 tablespoons of a rinse-out conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, a deep conditioner, and a hair mask.
- Step 2: Comb the mixture through clean, damp hair making sure to focus most of the product on mid-shaft down to the ends.
- Step 3: Wet two large towels, wring them out, and heat one in a microwave for one to two minutes (depending on how hot your microwave gets the towel—you want it tolerable to touch, but steamy warm).
- Step 4: Wrap hair up in the hot towel while you heat the second towel in the microwave.
- Step 5: Alternate wrapping hair in towels about two to three times.
This ultra-deep conditioning treatment should be repeated once a week.
Cut It Off
It may sound crazy, but cutting off damaged hair is the only way to truly repair it. To keep hair in great shape, get a trim every three weeks (yes, three initially) and swear off razor cuts and styling tools, including curling irons, blow-dryers, and flat irons.
Also, stay away from any processing, which will only weaken hair further. According to Allure, relaxers are the harshest on hair, followed by bleach, permanent color, demi-permanent dye, and then rinses or glazes. If you have damaged hair, opt for highlights instead of all-over color and ask your stylist to use a glaze instead of dye if you are going darker. For camouflaging gray hair, stick with demi-permanent formulas.
Use a Hair Mask
There are a myriad of hair masks on the market with the ability to do everything from strengthen to moisturize. Some, like Virtue Labs Restorative Treatment Mask ($32), address all sorts of hair concerns, from dryness to frizz and more. IGK founder Leo Izquierdo recommends applying masks "through the mid-shaft and ends of the hair where the hair can feel and appear the driest."
Change Your Washing Frequency
"Washing the hair too frequently can strip the hair of the natural oils that our scalps produce, leaving the hair dry and brittle," says Izquierdo. "While we sometimes try to combat greasy/dirty hair with more frequent washing, this can cause our hair to dry out and look brittle."
During particularly drying winter months, Izquierdo recommends "making it a goal to go an extra day between washings, so if you normally wash every two to three days, aim for every three to four. Get creative with slicked-back updos or playful clips and hair accessories to level-up the dirty hair days."
Apply a Hair Oil
Hair oils can help treat overprocessed, damaged, and frizzy hair by adding in lots of moisture, effectively sealing the hair shaft as a result.
But, as celebrity hairstylist and R+Co. founder Garren notes, the type of hair oil matters. "If you do love or find yourself needing a hair oil, invest in one that doesn’t just sit on the hair, but penetrates the shaft, like R+CO. BLEU’s Optical Illusion Oil ($66)," Garren says.
Try a Hair Bond Treatment
As the foundation of our hair is keratin, bond treatments can work wonders to maintain the integrity of the hair, Izquierdo explains. "Bond-builders go one step further to rebuild the bonds in the hair structure that become compromised and break or split with excessive chemical/bleach processing and heat," Izquierdo says.
But too many bond-building treatments can result in a weighed-down feeling in the hair. "I recommend consulting with a stylist to choose a treatment that might work best for you and supporting that service with a product like IGK Antisocial Bond-Building Dry Hair Mask ($34)," Izquierdo adds. "Antisocial is applied to dry hair and can be worn overnight or as a finishing product to deliver nourishment and repair throughout the day. The mask features Hydrolyzed Pea Protein, which is a vegan protein that should not contribute to an over-proteinized feeling in the hair, making it a great supplementary product for Keratin and other smoothing treatments."
Consider a Protein Treatment
Protein helps strengthen the hair, creating a barrier around the follicle and protecting it from further damage. You can run the risk, however, of enjoying too much of a good thing.
"When it comes to protein treatments, it’s important to understand that too much protein can actually cause the hair to dry out and crack, especially fine and fragile hair," says Garren, who recommends a product such as R+Co. BLEU’s Sleep Masque Night Repair Serum ($165), "which takes a skincare approach to hair healing and reveal silky and smooth hair overnight without having to rinse off."
Sleep on a Silk or Satin Pillowcase
Old-fashioned? Sure, but sleeping on a silk pillowcase is a tried-and-true method for healing damaged hair for a reason. "Brands and consumers are changing the way hair care has been presented, treated, and created," says Garren. "Many of those methods are on the traditional side and fit into an older standard of hair care, with the exception of sleeping on silk pillow cases or wrapping hair in silk scarves or wraps. That method will always help with smoothing hair."
Silk and satin reduce friction so hair glides smoothly across it, which minimizes the likelihood of waking up with frizz in the morning.
Does fried hair go back to normal?
Fried hair can absolutely go back to normal, so long as you address the problem the right way. The best way to do that is by speaking to an expert and, in the meantime, nourishing hair with protective products and little to no heat or dyes.
How long does it take to fix fried hair?
That depends on the problem at hand. If the hair is so damaged it requires a chop, growing the hair back could take some time. But some damage can be easily addressed in minutes—via things like bond treatments and hair masks.
Can you use a regular conditioner and a conditioning hair mask on damaged hair?
If your hair is very damaged, you can definitely use both a regular conditioner and a conditioning hair mask. Try the regular conditioner first, as you would normally (i.e. after shampooing) and apply the deep conditioner after.