Hair Rehab: How to Fix (and Prevent!) Damaged Locks

Put your best tresses forward using our expert tips and must-have products for growing healthy, aisle-worthy locks.


Wedding hair
Photo: Terry Doyle

Hair Damage 101

Let’s get to the root of your mane issues. Overwashing, chemical treatments and heat from styling tools are the common causes for damaged hair, according to Luisa Taddeo, Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Brand Expert. “The sebaceous glands on your scalp secrete sebum, an oily, waxy substance that keeps your hair and scalp moisturized,” explains Taddeo. Overcleansing hair repeatedly strips your scalp of its natural hydrating agents. Hair bleaching and texture treatments involve harsh chemicals that erode hair cuticles, the outer layer of each strand that seals in moisture. As for hot tools, Taddeo says that heat from blow dryers and flatirons result in parched hair fibers — which live deep within each hair cuticle — leaving locks brittle. Among these causes, the common indicator of damaged hair is dryness, which leads to split ends, breakage and frizz.

Protect & Treat

Hairstylist Jennifer Yepez recommends saying “I do” to a healthy hair regimen at least a year before walking down the aisle. Comb through these tips and products to include in your pre-wedding routine based on your hair damage type.

Overwashing: Kérastase consulting stylist Glen Oropeza’s philosophy is simple: Less is more. He explains, “It’s always a good idea to give your hair a break, especially if you’re trying to achieve healthy wedding-day hair.” Oropoza recommends cleansing hair every other day or every two days to promote a balanced scalp. As for what to wash with, Yepez explains that “everyone’s hair is different, so it’s important to find products most prescriptive for your hair.” Those with dull, thirsty strands should opt for nutrient-rich formulas like Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Matcha + Apple Replenish Superfood Shampoo and Conditioner. This clean combo is paraben- and sulfate-free (both are culprits in stripping moisture from your scalp). Each bottle packs essential revitalizing fatty acids and nourishing minerals that act as a wellness shot for your locks. The result? A well-balanced scalp plus smooth, fortified hair that gleams with health.

Briogeo Be Gentle Be Kind shampoo and conditioner

Chemical Culprits: Hitting pause on any color or texture treatment is the first step in mending overprocessed hair. This is the time to use an at-home treatment like Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3, which structurally rebuilds hair from within. Celebrity hair extension pro Priscilla Valles suggests applying the reparative formula to dry hair once a week and leaving it in overnight to penetrate strands. Wash out the next morning to see and feel a difference. Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream is another hair saver for chemically damaged locks. This luxe leave-in conditioner helps hair retain moisture while supplying UV protection that veils strands from harmful, color-fading rays.

Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream

Thermal Abuse: Aside from air-drying strands or wearing your natural texture, hair towels and heat protectants are your best defense against thermal damage. Gently blot wet hair with Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Towel.

Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Towel

This soft, polyester fabric cuts down drying time by 50 percent as well as minimizing frizz and breakage. Apply a creamy protective formula like Kérastase Résistance Extentioniste Thermique Blow Dry Primer, which is said to strengthen and protect strands from up to 450 degrees of heat.

Kerastase Resistance Extentioniste Thermique Blow Dry Primer

Opt for hot tools that are crafted to dry and style hair efficiently without using excessive heat like Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer:

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

and the Beachwaver S1.25:

Beachwaver S1.25

No matter the hair tool, Oropeza suggests adjusting its settings to lower temps, especially for those with thin or fine hair.

Maintain & Grow

Daily supplements and regular hair cuts are great options for brides vowing to up their already strong hair game before the big day. Hum Nutrition Hair Sweet Hair Gummies are the ultimate treat for you and your hair: they taste like candy and are loaded with folic acid, biotin and zinc to strengthen and grow strands from within.

Hum Nutrition Hair Sweet Hair Gummies

In addition to supplements, Yepez recommends trimming hair every two to three months leading up to your wedding, and using the phrase “light dusting” at the salon if you’re keen on maintaining length.

Style Tips

“Sleek styles are my go-to for camouflaging dry, damaged hair because I can use a lot of moisturizing products to condition the hair while styling it to look chic and polished,” says Oropeza. Apply Moroccanoil Mending Infusion Oil along ends to lock in moisture and give the appearance of freshly cut hair.

Moroccanoil Mending Infusion Oil

Sarah Potempa, celebrity hair stylist and creator of The Beachwaver Co., uses beach-y braids to disguise weak locks as well as root touch-up powder on her celebrity clients “to get a clean hairline or fill in any spots in a braid to ensure a picture-perfect look!”