It's happened to even the best-tressed: hair that looks so scary, hiding it beneath a scarf or hat is the only safe option. Whether your locks took a beating at your own hands or suffered salon trauma, you aren't stranded. Here, advice from the pros for fixing the most cringe-worthy coifs.
Major Heat Damage
All that heat from a flat iron and blow dryer can eventually take its toll. "Repeated styling weakens the hair and causes dehydration," says hairstylist Wren from Bumble and Bumble salon in New York City. Hair needs some serious moisture to help mend it. Use a deep-conditioning mask once a week to add luster and reinfuse hydration. Nourishing shampoos and conditioners will help penetrate the hair shaft and add moisture where it's needed most, she says. In the future, protect hair from hot tools with a silicone-based serum to buffer strands from direct heat and make the cuticle shiny and smooth. Photo: Fabrice LEROUGE/Getty Images
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That ultra-choppy mop top seemed liked such a good idea before you sat in your stylist's chair; now, not so much. Until your hair grows out, you can help those piecey locks look more uniform by flat-ironing your hair, says Wren. "Smoothing strands blends in layers so your hair will look more polished," she says. Hair grows about half an inch every month, so don't fret: Those layers will get longer in no time.
In an effort to tame unruly tresses, you shelled out for a straightening treatment-which seems to have left you with dead, lifeless locks. The best thing to do is stay out of the salon and pump up the volume in the safety of your own home. Start in the shower by using a clarifying shampoo. "These clean and open up the cuticle to relieve product buildup, making hair look fuller," says Emiliano De Pasqual of Warren-Tricomi salon in New York City. To build even more body, use a volumizing spray and flip your head upside down as you blow hair dry, he says.
Home Perm Gone Wrong
Home perms should probably be left where they belong: in the '80s. "The problem is, you don't exactly know the level of chemicals you're putting on your hair, so chances are, it won't turn out the way you'd imagined it," says Wren. If your head looks more like a nest than a cascade of glossy ringlets, seek help from a professional. You can get your hair re-permed, but wait at least two weeks to give it time to repair itself from the first batch of chemicals, says Wren. To help calm an out-of-control coif, you might consider a keratin treatment to reinvigorate hair, add shine and fix the texture. Photo: Hitoshi Nishimura/Getty Images
If ever there was a cry-inducing salon moment, it's when you realize you've been at the mercy of an overzealous "artiste." If you can't bear to look at yourself, and you have at least 3 inches of hair, the easiest and most inexpensive solution is to invest in some clip-in extensions, says De Pasqual. Even though the last thing you want is to take off more length, go for regular trims every six to eight weeks. Keeping your ends neat will lessen damage and breakage to your hair, he says. Until then, try some fashionable hair accessories like barrettes and headbands.
Related: Learn the most flattering ways to wear short hair.
Once a flat iron makes a crease mark, it can't be undone by going back over the same area. Dampen the section and blow it dry by pointing the nozzle of the hair dryer toward the ends and pulling it taut with a flat brush. Straightening your hair before flat-ironing is more important than you may think. "The flat iron is the last step; it seals what you've already done," says Wren. Mist a bit of lightweight holding spray onto the section, hold the iron parallel to the floor and pull through hair in one fluid motion.
In an effort to save yourself a trip to the salon, you attempted to trim your own bangs and lopped too much off the ends. Sound familiar? Your best hair helper in this scenario is time-give that fringe about a month to grow half an inch. In the meantime, there are a few styling tricks you can try. A deep side part is a great way to mask the bangs and distract the eye, says Wren. To help flatten the roots and give the bangs a teeny bit more length, put a bit of holding spray on damp hair. Using a small, flat brush, pull and dry bangs at the roots, brushing them from side to side. Or you can camouflage them altogether with a cute headband.
Harsh chemicals, especially bleach, can do a number on your hair, making it vulnerable to breakage. Damaged hair requires delicate care. While it's wet, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle knots; a brush is too harsh and can cause even more breakage, says Wren. "The best way to nurse it back to health is with hydration and protein," she says. Deep-conditioning treatments once a week can help restore vitality. Apply a conditioning mask in the shower and cover your head with a plastic shower cap. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to open the cuticle and allow the conditioner to penetrate.
When a DIY dye job goes horribly wrong, don't panic-any color of the rainbow can be corrected. Light hair is the easiest to fix by using a toner to deepen the shade. Or you can ask your stylist to introduce some lowlights, says De Pasqual. A too-dark 'do is a bit more complicated. "In order for you to lighten up again, bleach is often necessary, since color can't take off color," he says. Seeking professional advice is the best way to ensure a safe fix and the least amount of damage. If you plan to color your hair again yourself, next time go for a demi-permanent formula that washes out in four to six weeks.
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