Monday, 2 July 2012

Part 1: 10 Tips for Dealing with Over Processed Hair

This is going to be a long one so brace yourselves…

If you’ve followed the blog for a while then you know that the reason I started it was because of a hideous accident with my hair. I wont ramble on too much about it here but you can read the first post and see some of the early pictures here. If you search the blog too, there are plenty of posts. Here's a little taster...

(taken the day after it happened)

So in April I hit the 6 month mark since my hair was chemically burned. I had meant to do an update post at the time but life unfortunately got in the way.

To give you some background, I was a bottle blonde with naturally brown hair. My hair was blonde when I was little but I’ve been dying it blonde since I was 12 or 13 (I BEGGED my mum for some highlights and it just went out of control from there!). Im 26 now so I hadn’t seen my natural hair colour in 13 or so years. I didn’t even know what colour it would be when the roots started coming in.

Anyway, since it got chemically burned, I was terrified to dye my hair. Trust me, if you’ve had happen to you what happened to me, if you’re once lovely long soft blonde hair had turned into a crusty straw like brillo pad feeling crunchy mess of crap then you wouldn’t either. The fear was too great!  Like I said though, I was bottle blonde so I had quite a lot of brown regrowth at the roots. Given the absolute state my hair was it, it’s a welcome sight. 

Even so, I hated the way it looked. The blonde was a horrible colour and with all the brown, it always looked greasy and dirty. I dunno what changed but I had begun to get sick of the sight of it. So with that in mind, I went to a new hairdresser on a recommendation from my aunt and I got my hair dyed! I'm now a brunette!!!

My hair overall feels healthier and it looks a lot better. I'm so pleased as I didn't even know if the over processed hair would hold the colour. I'm going to keep updating the blog with how the colour fades as clearly, it wil,l even after one wash its faded slightly (now its the colour in the picture above instead of close to black) but I love it! The blonde still shines through in certain areas but its just a lighter shade of brown.

I did a lot of googling when my hair got chemically burned. Trying to find some tips and while, yes, there are a lot of websites for over-processed hair, I didn’t feel that there was too much honest advise from people who had their hair as damaged as mine was. I really found the advise on the internet helpful though and I’ve decided to try to help others myself. If someone can make use of this then great. I know I would have appreciated it when I was first going through this. 

I’m going to split this into 2 parts, this part will be tips that have worked for me and the next part will be my holy grail products, ones that I just cant be without and have made the most dramatic difference to my hair.
So if you’ve made it this far, you may as well read on. I should also state, I am not a hairdresser and I am by no means an expert (though I have been told by 2 hairdressers that they have been impressed by how I have been treating my hair), this is just what I have found has worked for me. 


Tip 1 - Accept it
This is the hardest one. Like I’ve said before, theres nothing you can do. I literally cried at some point every day for a over a week when this happened. I don’t know if it was because I was angry at myself for using a lightening spray to begin with, angry and upset at my hairdresser for not knowing what she was doing, I don’t know. All I know is that I was devastated. I felt self conscious and pretty damn unattractive. I know its superficial but I challenge anyone to not feel like that. Some people may think that’s an over-reaction but how would you feel if it was you? If you would be fine then I admire you. I couldn’t do anything with my hair. I couldn’t even brush it without it falling out. And the colour and cut was horrible. But I have to say that as soon as I accepted that this was the way it was going to be, I felt better. There is nothing you can do about it. Although you can get some products that will help in some form, nothing will return your hair to what it was until you get all the over-processed parts cut off. I felt pretty low for a while but, trust me, the sooner you accept it, and stop wishing you could turn back time, the better you’ll feel. 

Tip 2 – Understand, there is no quick fix
You also need to realise that it will take time. No amount of leave in conditioners, oil treatments etc will help overnight. You’re in it for the long hall. As awful as it is, you just need to give it time

Tip 3 - Get regular trims
What you really need to do is get that over-processed hair cut off. But DO NOT let your hairdresser bully you into going for a short cut. DO NOT let them cut it all off if you don’t want them too. They tried to do that with me and I told them where they could stick it. It is, obviously, essential you get as much of it as possible cut off and, to be honest, your hair will probably be snapping off anyway, but you don’t need to go for the pixie or shave your head. If you’re brave enough to do that then more power to you. If not, then get as much cut off as you can and go for regular trims. Every 6-8 weeks at first. The overall goal is to get rid of that nasty horrible hair and be left with new hair. The regular trims really help with the condition. Even if its just cutting off the worst of the split ends. Mine always feels better after a trim. 

Tip 4 - Stop washing it
I was an every day girl. My hair just wouldn’t sit right and would get really greasy if I didn’t wash it every day. Now, I wash my hair every Sunday and Wednesday. If you’re hairs anything like mine was, it wont get greasy anyway. It was so dry it didn’t develop any grease on it until, fairly recently to be honest, and that’s down to the amount of regrowth. What you want to do is to encourage your hair to try to produce its natural oils and how do you do that? By not washing it. You also don’t want to put your hair through any more trauma than necessary.

Straighteners, curling irons, even hairdryers can damage your hair with heat. Overprocessed hair doesn’t need that. Get used to wearing it up. My hair was always down and straightened. I hated wearing it up. Now, I don’t know how I could ever be bothered straightening it every day. Stop using heat immediately. Especially at first. Leave your hair to air dry as well. My hair got over-processed in October last year and I didn’t dry/straighten it until December, when I was going on a Christmas night out. Though I will say, if you’re hairs that bad and you’re scared of it falling out due to the amount of it that’s snapping off, you wont touch the heat tools for love nor money. When you do go back to using them, try to use the lowest heat you can, and for the love of god, use a heat protect spray

Tip 6 - Invest in a wide toothed comb
I use the term invest loosely since I think the one I have was 99p. Don’t even bother with a brush. If you’re anything like me, you either wont be able to get it through your hair or you’ll see so much hair come out when you use a proper brush that you’ll decide its not worth it. A wide toothed comb is a lot more gentle on your hair and so will cut down on the amount that snaps off when you brush it. It will also get through the inevitable tangles easier. 

Tip 7 - Love the scrunchies
Does anyone remember that episode of Sex and The City where Carrie and Berger had that argument over the woman wearing the scrunchie…something along the lines of no self respecting New York woman would be caught dead in a scrunchie? Well I dont live in new york so bugger that! Get some soft hair ties a la 90’s school days. If you’re hair is breaking, you don’t want to put it under any more stress. Tie it back with a good old fashioned soft scrunchie, as loosely as you can. You know what they say about out of sight out of mind? Well for a while, I found that putting my hair up was the best thing I could do. Also get some head bands or scarves to tie around your hair to keep it out of your face but make sure you don’t pull too hard when putting it back, you don’t want to encourage more snapping

Tip 8 – Cut down on styling products
This one isnt really necessary but I didn’t use any styling products on my hair until probably 2 months or so after it happened. I was just so happy my hair was still there that I just let it do its own thing. Styling products like a serum would probably have made my hair sit better but I didn’t want to put anything into my hair that might coat it the way styling products do. I wanted to be able to really see how bad it was so that I would have a good idea of when it was getting better.

Tip 9 – Invest in your hair care
I don’t want to mention too much about actual products in this post (that’s the next one) but you need to do your research and invest in hair care products. Now is not the time to scrimp. I have tried both high end and high street and I have noticed the most difference when using the higher end ones. That’s just my hair though. I had previously used the Dove shampoo for damaged hair and loved it but as good as it was (I hope to go back to it some day), it didn’t really do much when my hair was at its worst. You need something industrial strength! Shampoo and conditioner designed for damaged, over processed hair, protein treatments/sprays, intensive & leave in conditioners will become your best friend. I’ve found oil treatments to be really excellent as well. I know I am lucky enough to be able to buy the high end hair care…actually no, while I do know I’m lucky, its what I’ve chosen to spend my money on over the last 9 months. My focus has been my hair and if I have spare pennys, they will go into the hair fund to ensure I can use the products that I find make the biggest difference. Like I said, do your research and get the products that people have reviewed as working. Don’t waste time. I wasted some time at the start with stuff from my hairdressers that I wish I hadn’t bothered with now, more of that in post 2 though

Tip 10- Realise, It will get better
Its not a quick process but it will get better. It took 3-4 months before my hair had significantly improved. Severely over processed hair can be a long term thing, depending on how quickly your hair grows (sadly mine grows very slowly) but it does get better. Its not forever, its just just now. Hair grows, mine has and so will yours. 

So there you go. Kudos if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a medal. I hope to get part 2 up soon which will have my holy grail hair products in it which are, incidentally, all part of my current hair care routine.

Oh I should have mentioned above, another tip is to try not to smack all the people that will inevitably tell you “its only hair”….

Jill x

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