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Bring damaged hair back from the dead

Tired of your dull, lifeless, damaged hair? Bring your locks back to life with these seven easy steps.

Woman with split ends

Break up with heat

Using heat on your hair, especially frequently, causes damage and breakage — and can even melt your strands. It might seem impossible, but letting your hair air-dry or omitting the flat iron even a few times a week can work wonders.

If you must use a blow dryer, let your locks air-dry as much as possible, and then dry them on a low-heat setting. Instead of straightening your strands, try a loose braid, fishtail or bun; in lieu of a curling iron, test out no-heat curling techniques. The more heat-free you can go, the better off your locks will be.

How to protect your hair from the heat >>

Say bye-bye to your brush

Sorry, Marsha — brushing your hair 100 times a night is a habit to break.

Brushes create tension and can more easily snag strands of your hair, leading to breakage. Whenever possible, default to a wide-tooth comb instead of brushing. If you can’t end your love affair just yet, make sure you’re only brushing your hair when it’s at least 90 percent dry and using a round brush for blow-outs. Brushing wet or damp hair right after washing (when it’s most prone to tangles) more easily leads to damage. If you have naturally curly hair, leave a wide-tooth comb in the shower to use while you’re conditioning, then lightly towel-dry your hair afterward.

Loosen up

Frequent tight ponytails put tension on the strands in the back and on top of your head, which can lead to breakage and cause flyaways. If you can’t stand wearing your hair down, mix up the height of your pony, and only wrap your elastic a couple times.

Don’t be a cheapskate

Drugstore haircare brands aren’t the best for your locks. Drugstore brands tend to be filled with silicones, alkalines, acids and harsh chemicals that strip your hair of nutrient and color, while salon brands are specially formulated to protect your hair, are pH-balanced and offer the correct amount of proteins and other nutrients your strands need to thrive.

If your checking account’s a little light, ask your stylist for samples of product to test out which brand is best for you before spending the money.

Revisit your Chemistry 101 days

Protein makes up most of your muscles, organs and immune system, meaning your body needs it to survive — and so does your hair. Hair is made up of protein, so when your strands are damaged, it means they’re short in protein supply. That’s usually due to excessive heat, styling and tension.

On the flip side, you can also have too many proteins in your hair, which can cause it to break off more easily. Yes, your hair can actually be too healthy. If you’re using repairing products, only use it until your strands feel good, and then stop or reduce use.

Note: Blondes are more prone to losing proteins (and, thus, damaged hair), especially when you frequently highlight or color. Ask your stylist for the best pH-balanced product for your strands.

Seek the scissors

We can’t stress this enough: Regular haircuts are so important. Most people should trim their hair every four to six weeks; even eight weeks can be pushing it. Ask your stylist what’s best for your type of hair, then stick to your trim regime. If you’re growing out your hair, it’s especially important to trim every six weeks to promote growth: The more frequently you get a trim, the less your stylist has to cut off each visit.

Get dirty

The hair-styling gods recommend you wash your hair only twice a week (praise the person who invented dry shampoo!). The finer your hair, the less likely you’ll be able to go this long between washes, but it’s something you should strive for. Try to only wash it every other day, make sure you’re using good (salon formulated) hair products and try out some fun second-day hairstyles.

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