What To Do When Your Hair Is So Fried It Looks Like Overbrushed Barbie Hair

For anyone who is experiencing texture issues due to overprocessing, allow me to tell you that there IS hope: Within a few weeks, my hair was as manageable as a scared 21-year-old intern again!
Publish date:
June 4, 2012
shoppables, hair, color treated hair, damaged hair

You guys know how Zoe Wiepert of Bumble and Bumble, who made me blonde, is like a super chic big deal, right? As evidenced by the fact that she does Cat Marnell and The Man Repeller's hair and the color for lots of high-profile ads like these BB Colorminded ones:

And this Surf Spray one that I keep seeing in all the women's magazines. She's so fancy. I don't know if I can go back to Brooklyn for hair, ya'll.

Speaking of not going back to things, am I the only one who always hears such a statement in the voice of Madonna in "A League of Their Own," when she's all, "You can tell ol' rich Mr. Old Chocolate Man that I ain't GOING BACK." (That last paragraph is where I officially crossed the line from writing an article to just writing stuff.)


Zoe is legit, which is why she was careful to warn me repeatedly that going from dark brunette to blonde in one session was certain to significantly change the texture of my hair.

"You may have...breakage," she told me, which is up there with "pus" on the list of words I don't want associated with my general appearance. But I was determined not to be a whiny little girl about the results -- sort of like the hair equivalent of that game where you're not allowed to flinch while your friend pretends to hit you in the face.

And luckily, I didn't have any breakage. Because Zoe is fancy, she doesn't use actual bleach, the way I did when I Manic Panic-ed my hair right before my high-school Latin Club's trip to Europe, so that I came home with a whole album of photos of myself with garish pink hair standing in front of European landmarks to horrify my mother with. She uses, I don't know, something else, which strips your hair of color more gently, and then she puts a gloss on it to perfect the tone.

So my hair came out of the process in remarkably good shape considering what it had been through, like one of those babies raised in an orphanage without being touched who still knows how to love. But it wasn't the same as like, a baby with parents and Yo Gabba Gabba sheets and everything.

Anyway, I was slightly traumatized when I had to style my hair by myself for the first time and realized I couldn't get a brush through my formerly dry-and-wear hair. Even though I'd already decided caring about your hair's texture was for socialites and little girls, I started to get a little "my womanly glory hath been compromised" and at one point I turned to Jane Pratt and dramatically announced, "I basically ruined my hair for you."

This is an exaggeration.

So I shot out an SOS email to Zoe, who stepped in with some sympathy ("With being a blonde & having gone through such a HUGE change so quickly your hair will definitely be in shock!") and some tips for handling the newly blonde. And for anyone who is experiencing texture issues due to overprocessing, allow me to tell you that there IS hope: Within a few weeks, my hair was as manageable as a scared 21-year-old intern again!

Zoe says:

Use a Hair Mask.

She says this will help with your "swollen cuticles," which, DIRTY! The BB Quenching Masque is good for "chronically dry" hair, but I just used some leftover Goat Milk from my weird Brooklyn story.

Shampoo Less and Use Less Shampoo.

That first one is kind of obvious -- shampooing every 2 or 3 days will help keep your hair moisturized -- but it took me awhile to realize that actually using less shampoo (i.e., a little dab instead of a heaping handful) also kept my hair from looking so dry post-wash. I went out a bought the TIGI Dumb Blonde shampoo, which is specifically made for chemically treated hair. (I hear their Recovery Shampoo is also good for severe damage.

Air-Dry As Much As Possible.

This gets soooo boring after awhile. My hair's default setting is limp waves, and after a few weeks without heat styling I was ready to strangle myself with my own mermaid-y tendrils. That's right, TENDRILS. I know that's a gross substitute word for hair, but it just was really so TENDRIL-y. Like spaghetti noodles.

If you can stand it, I recommend air-drying for a few weeks just to give your hair a break

Apply a Leave-in Conditioner and Let Dry 80 Percent Before Heat Styling.

When you can't possibly stand another day of tendril-y spaghetti hair or whatever your natural texture nightmare entails, you can try blowdrying again. But you must heartily apply a leave-in conditioner and let the hair air-dry 80 percent of the way before you take a round brush to it.

When doing the leave-in conditioner, Zoe cautions, make sure to apply just on your midshaft and ends, because you don't need it at your root. (I wrote back, "Heh, you said shaft.") She recommends a metal round brush to help smooth out the hair, and says to avoid any holding products with alcohol in them, as they can be drying.

Teeze your Tangles.

The Tangle Teezer is a professional detangling brush that I only know about because I use it on the baby. But one day, during the worst of my hair struggles, I picked it up and discovered that it is perfect for detangling any dry hair without breaking it. And it comes in purple glitter!

Apply the finishing touches.

When you're all done, use a polish or balm to smooth the cuticles and calm down fly-aways. The Color-Minded UV Protective Polish, which Zoe gave me at my appointment, is seriously awesome. I've also always had luck with any Frizz-Ease product.

My eyes are closed, but my hair looks calm.

Have you ever seriously destroyed your hair, and if so, can you somehow blame Jane Pratt for it? How did you nurse it back to health?