How to Take Care of Very Damaged, Coloured Hair

I've been dyeing my (naturally dark brown) hair since I was about sixteen. It started with permanent tints, and then in 2015 I took the plunge and bleached the crap out of it so I could go blue. In the last two years I've gone from blue to black and back again a handful of times, bleaching it about 15 times to either get rid of the black or sort out my roots, and my poor hair has paid the price.

I've tried a ton of products, tips and tricks to try and keep my hair from snapping, frizzing and falling out, and I think I've finally come up with a routine that really works. So, if your hair is feeling the effects of over-processing, I might be able to help! Though, obviously bear in mind that I'm not a professional, this is just stuff I've picked up along the way.

Start with your hairbrush

You can be using all the best products, but if your brush is doing you damage then it's one step forward, two steps back. Very damaged hair is prone to splits, tangles and breakage. It can be tempting to just leave it to go all snarly and commit to messy hair, but I find that keeping it tidy can help you prevent further damage. Ripping out big knots is nobody's idea of fun, so regular, gentle brushing is key. I have two brushes but this wide, soft-bristled brush "

Tangle Tamer Ultra

" brush is my favourite. It's robust enough to actually pass through the hair, but gentle enough that it doesn't tug or pull. I also have a knock-off Tangle Teezer that I got from Lidl which I only ever use when my hair is really frizzed-up. 

Use heat sparingly

We all know that heat-styling tools aren't exactly the best thing for your hair. As far as possible I avoid my straighteners and curling irons, aside from special occasions, and I always use some kind of heat protectant product (that said, I'm currently in the market for a cruelty-free heat styling spray, so please give me your recommendations!)

The exception to this rule is blow-drying, and that's because wet hair is weaker and stretchier, especially bleached hair. It's best to avoid brushing it when it's wet, so at the very least you should rough-dry it first. I find that wrapping my hair in an old tshirt instead of a rough towel makes a difference, or using a super-absorbent microfibre head wrap to soak up the excess water. The better you air-dry it, the less heat you'll need to finish the job.

You'll probably have your own method for drying your hair depending on your hair type and texture, so all I'll say is not to fry it with too high a heat. 

Great shampoo really works... until it doesn't

You might have heard of the idea of your hair "getting used" to your shampoo and conditioner. I know quite a few people who use different shampoos and conditioners on rotation in order to get the best out of them.

Now, I'm not a hairdresser or a scientist, but my understanding is that ingredients like silicon make the hair stronger, up to a point. When this builds up too much it can actually make hair more brittle, so washing with a clarifying shampoo (or a cheap/harsh shampoo like baby shampoo or even dish soap) can get rid of the build up, and make hair soft again. 

The best way around this is to choose a shampoo and conditioner with low/no sulphates and silicon. 

The best shampoo and conditioner I've used for when my hair is at it's most damaged and fragile is TIGI Resurrection. Unfortunately it's not CF or vegan, so I won't be able to buy it again, but I'm about to try some from

Faith in Nature

on the recommendation of the lovely


. I'll post a review at some point to let you know how I get on with it! 

Take care of your scalp

Allow me to state the obvious for a second: your scalp is what your hair grows out of. Far too many of us neglect our scalps, and our hair suffers as a consequence. Regular scalp massage promotes hair growth and also helps spread the natural oil our body produces into the hair. This oil is literally the best thing; our body makes it specifically to condition our hair. This also means that you should avoid washing your hair too frequently, as you'll miss out on all that lovely, helpful oil. On that note...

Don't wash too often, or too infrequently

Yeah, I know, very helpful, but hear me out. Washing your hair too often means more product build up, more heat damage and more time that your hair is wet and weak. However, nobody likes to feel all greasy. 

I have found the best thing for my hair is to wash it every 4-5 days, making sure to massage my scalp in between washes to make best use of the oil from my scalp, before using just a touch of dry shampoo to mattify the remaining greasiness. 

Be kind to your hair

Think of it this way: if you damaged one of your possessions you'd treat it with more care. The same has to apply to your damaged hair. Here are a few hints I've picked up for just being a little more gentle with hair:

Using no-snag hair bands

Popping on some silk pillowcases (a godsend for your face


 your hair - double win!)

Try no-heat styling methods for smoothing or curling

Smooth a hair oil into your ends (I love jojoba oil, and it's great for your nails too)

Mix your crazy colour dye/toner in with plenty of conditioner, or even a hair mask

I'm sorry, but you probably need a haircut

I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but a trim will probably do you some good. I know that fear of being told by your hairdresser that "it's all dead and needs to come off" but be strong! If you're ok with them cutting off all the damage then crack on, but if you're only comfortable with a small amount of length coming off, that's still better than nothing. Be firm with your hairdresser and set your boundaries. It


make your hair feel better.

It's not totally possible to actually reverse damage on your hair, the only thing you can really do is grow nice, new healthy hair and treat it nicely. But, with a little extra TLC you can stop your damaged hair from getting any worse, and make it look and feel a little better!

(I bought and paid for any products mentioned myself. This is not an ad or sponsored post.)