Anyone who has experienced the nightmare of having their hair chemically-damaged knows just how horrendous it can be. We live in a society obsessed with colouring, straightening and curling our hair. Fashion shoots and instagram celebrities show off unicorn coloured locks, or a mop of bright pink or blue hair, perfectly styled and glossy with health. As we age, we are increasingly pressured to dye our hair to look younger, and of course tempted to get foils of different tones in the process, or use it as an excuse to try a far lighter hair colour. 

Colouring hair or getting a perm can result in chemical-damage, especially if hair is bleached and dyed at home, and the consequences are dire, with large chunks of strands snapping and breaking away.

Is there some miracle cure out there to make it all go away? The horrible and stark answer is no, chemical damaged hair cannot be completely reversed BUT there is a lot you can do to help revive and nourish your hair. It all lies in the products you use to replenish your hair. Brands like KMS haircare have ranges of repair revival creams, shampoos, conditioners and hydrating oils, as well as anti-breakage sprays, all aimed at protecting damaged hair and restorating barriers to prevent further harm.

What is Chemical Damage to Hair?

Chemical damage occurs when a perm, colour or treatment goes wrong, usually if the hair is exposed too long to bleaches and dyes, or if these styling procedures are done too many times in a short period. 

Each of these processes require the hair to be at the mercy of extremely harsh chemicals, like peroxides. The strands of the hair are protected by a strong coating of lipids (fatty oils), designed by nature to keep moisture in and keep harmful contaminants out. When hair is coloured and bleached, this layer is striped to allow the active ingredient in. From there, the chemicals are able to affect the cuticle, a layer of dead, overlapping cells around each strand like a skin of scales. These chemicals lift parts of the cuticle to get inside, then nestle into the structure of the hair strand and disrupt the bonds within to give a more permanent colour. During this process, instability is created within the hair that behaves like weak links in a chain. 

These changes to the hair structure are not as horrible as they sound. Severe chemical damage usually only occurs when these salon treatments are done incorrectly, and when regular haircare to nourish, repair and hydrate the hair is neglected. 

There are also many other types of damage that can also be prevented or minimised with the right shampoo, conditioner and serums.

How Do You Know If Your Hair is Chemically Damaged? 

There are many signs of chemical damage to hair:

  • Split ends or chunks of hair snapping off, to leave frizzy tufts.
  • Very dry, especially through the mid-region to the ends.
  • Hair feels slimy when wet.
  • The body of hair is dull, has lost its vibrancy and no longer shrines.
  • Greatly reduced elasticity: a strand of hair should stretch a little when wet, not break.

Chemical damage does not include hair falling out from the roots. If this is what you are experiencing, see this expert advice from the American Academy of Dermatology Association

How Exactly Does Hair Get Chemically Damaged?

Hair usually gets chemically damaged when a miscalculation is made when dying the hair. This can happen when hair is coloured from home, especially if a cheaper product with lots of harsh chemicals is used. Another error an inexperienced person can make is keeping the dye or bleach in contact with the hair for far too long, striping off an extreme amount of the fatty oil lipid layer that protects hair strands and lifts up too much of the cuticle armour, leaving hair very exposed to the elements. 

Continuous bleaching is another culprit for chemical damage, especially if a drastic colour change is forced in one session. This is why an experienced hairdresser who knows their craft will make a client return for multiple bleaching sessions when they want to change from a dark hair colour to a much lighter one. 

Another factor is incorrect haircare after colouring. You may have a wonderful hairdresser, who knows how to colour and style your hair with minimum damage caused, but the right care afterwards with protective and hydrating products is essential to prevent further, unnecessary damage from the elements.

Treatments For Reviving and Protecting Your Hair

Prevention is always best, and often the same haircare plan that helps to repair and revive damaged hair can also prevent much of the damage happening in the first place.

The following types of products can go a long way to protect and strengthen coloured hair:

  • High moisture, repair shampoo and conditioner.
  • Revival creme that guards against damage and soothes split ends.
  • Hydrating oils, because chemically damaged hair is dry and thirsty.
  • An anti-breakage spray.
  • Hydrating treatments and hair masks.

Please note that while chemically damaged hair can only be completely cured by getting it chopped off, there is a lot that can be done to help correct the moisture levels of damaged hair until it grows out, and to prevent frizziness and breakage.

Images: Supplied.

This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Web Oracle.

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