How To Bleach, Dye, Blow-Dry and Fry Your Hair (And Still Have It Look Healthy)

The fantastic products I've been using to keep my dead and damaged hair looking lively.

Jul 20, 2011 at 9:02am | Leave a comment

I was born with a thick, resilient head of hair. It's been through a lot. When I was 14, I used to iron my hair in the mornings before school. Not with a curling iron, or a straightening iron, but a clothing iron. I'd brush my long, healthy, dark hair out over the ironing board and then go over it with the "cotton" setting, resulting in smooth, pin-straight Marcia Brady style hair that sort of smelled like burning toast. I burned my forehead a few times, but that's the price you pay, right? Right?

As I've mentioned before, I've dyed my hair at home many times (like just last week). I've bleached it. I've cut it myself, once into a Mia Farrow in "Rosemary's Baby"-esque pixie. I've used curling and straightening irons of various styles and heat settings. Crimpers (!), hot rollers, foam rollers. Basically, it's fought a long and hard battle towards being "pretty."

Through all of that, I've learned a few tricks to keep it from looking cracked out. Technically, I should resemble one of the witches from Macbeth, and yet it's relatively smooth, shiny, and soft. It's bizarre, but genetics aren't entirely responsible. Here are some of the products I've been using over the years, and recently, to keep it from falling out and leaving me looking like Gollum.

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Alberto vo5's Anti-Breakage, Strengthening Hot Oil (about $5, drugstores)

Vo5's Hot Oil is such a classic product, your grandmother probably used it to keep her hair looking healthy, too. (And 50 years ago, women's hair went through as much, if not more, than ours does. Perms and pincurls, anyone?) You can buy this at any drugstore for less than $5. (I bought my last box on sale for $2.99!)  Take out one of the tubes, put it in a hot mug of water for a minute, then apply it all over your hair like shampoo. Leave it for a minute, and then shampoo it out. Pretty easy, anyone can do it, and it makes a real difference.

Awapuhi by Paul Mitchell Wild Ginger Keratin Intensive Treatment ($19.93 for 5.1 ounces, Amazon.com)

Keratin is this buzzy word I hear about in haircare all the time. I guess it's a protein that helps strengthen your hair and make it look better, or something to that effect. Whatever it is, it works. This stuff smells like ginger ale, too. The other night I thought it would be a good idea to apply it to my ends (dry), put my hair in a bun and leave it for awhile. After I rinsed it out, my hair was much smoother and smelled really nice, too.

BedHead Colour Goddess for "Racy Redheads & Bodacious Brunettes," Shampoo, Conditioner and Leave-In Conditioner ($9 and up, Amazon.com)

This line of three products, a sulfate-free shampoo, super-creamy conditioner and delicious leave-in conditioner that doubles as a detangler, are formulated with something called "Colour LockDown Technology" to prevent fading and UV damage to hair that's been dyed shades of brunette or red (they also have a collection for blondes, too!) It smells like créme brulée, or warm caramel pudding. Seriously, you might start sucking on your hair. Not that I have. I haven't! But it smells delicious, and my hair still hasn't faded after a week and a few washes, so I think it's doing it's job. I was also using the leave-in conditioner before I ever coloured, because it smells so good and gives my hair these nice waves when I leave it to air dry. Wonderful!

Also, Lush (I'm a junkie, I have boxes full of waiting-to-be-used bath bombs) is having a deal on three specially tailored hair kits with some of their best-selling all-natural hair goods, so get your hands on them before they're gone.

Bonus Tip: REGULAR TRIMS. Please guys, remember to trim your split ends. After I cut my hair into the pixie cut a few years ago, I never trimmed it. I let it grow out to shoulder length without taking scissors to it except for trimming my bangs, and so I ended up with a mass of gross split ends and weird, uneven layers. Eventually I cleaned up my hair, and I trim it on the regular now, but I am bummed that I took so long to learn this lesson. Sometimes I'm tempted to cut it all off again just to get a new head of healthy hair to start over with but HA HA, not gonna happen.

Anyway, share with me your favourite products for taming and soothing damaged hair. Do you use avocados? I almost used an avocado the other night.