I have put my hair through the most unforgivable kinds of torture. I have bleached, dyed, clarified, bleached on top of dye, straightened, curled, yanked, twisted, teased and nearly beaten my hair to the brink of death.
It isn’t because I consider my hair to be my emotional punching bag; no. Rather, the opposite is true. My hair has long been one of my most beloved and, therefore, employed creative outlets. I’m a journalist and researcher with an obsession for my very own crowning glory, in fact. Thus, I am oozing with sufficient knowledge to share the following tried-and-tested hair recommendations. Each are organized by concern.
Hair Concern: Dry / Damaged
Agadir Argan Oil Hair Treatment
This product is both a styling serum as well as a treatment, and it is one of my favorite beauty products of all time. It smells like heavenly exotic incense which, alone, makes it worth the purchase. It is moisturizing, smoothing, controlling and shine-producing yet never adds weight to the hair. It is just as suitable for my thick, wavy hair is it is for my girlfriend’s fine, straight hair. Most notably, the shine factor is gasp-provoking.
Biolage Hydratherapie Ultra Hydrating Balm by Matrix
There is one product that has given my hair a renewed softness and manageability after every exhaustive episode of hair torture. Allow me to introduce you to my dear friend, Matrix Biolage Ultra Hydrating Balm. It is truly my favorite hair conditioner of all time. I feel as though it quenches my thirsty, stressed hair much in the way that an electrolyte-enhanced glass of water replenishes my body when it is dehydrated.
I have tried all of the generic versions of this product and, while they are nice and work well when I am confined to a stringent budget, they simply do not possess quite the “magic” this does. The smell is the same, which is that of a botanical garden, but this balm just nurtures and comforts my defeated hair like nothing else every has.
If your hair is breaking off at the root because of over-bleaching, this product alone will not help you. You will likely need to incorporate a product with protein into your hair regimen prior to using this (continue reading). However, if your hair is dry, coarse, frizzy, unruly and nearly impossible to move a brush through, you will drop to your knees and tank the makers of Matrix for this product.
Matrix Biolage Smoothing Shine Milk
When I have put my hair through the torture chambers of over-processing and too much heat from styling, it reacts vengefully – by tangling and knotting horribly. I apply this product to damp, freshly-shampooed hair and it allows me to comb through it and detangle with ease. It hydrates with zero concern of it weighing my hair down and with no heavy oils whatsoever. It also provides a considerable amount of smoothing to the texture of the hair.
If your hair has been abused so much that you are fearful of using any products in it, yet want to be able to style it, this is the perfect option for you. It provides a slight amount of styling hold, but with freedom and flexibility.
Hair Concern: Downright Unruly
Bio Ionic 10x Pro Styling Iron
All other flat irons must bow down to the glory of this device, for it is far superior to even the best of them. It was constructed by hair gods, and is downright magic for your downright unruly hair.
If your texture is wavy, course or curly and you long for a straight style (but are discontent with the artificially straight appearance other flat irons provide), you are going to be forever indebted to this device. It is the least damaging flat iron on the market, and is brilliant at transforming a course hair texture into a fluffy, soft and straightened appearance. Dare I also mention that the shine factor is like vinyl?
I have been researching and experimenting with Bio Ionic products (curling irons, hair brushes, etc) for an entire decade. The unique success of their devices can be attributed to the negative ions which drive water molecules deep into the hair shaft. The use of their heat styling tools has never caused my hair to suffer.
I’ve found their quality to be consistent and incomparable, and appreciate that they offer a five-year warranty (which is nearly unheard of).
Hair Concern: Flat / Fine / Thin
Bumble & Bumble Styling Lotion
This is a quite a unique product because it controls and softens while also producing volume. It prevents the top of my hair from ever appearing “flat.” It provides my hair with added fullness, yet softens and smooths. It is pretty expensive, but one bottle lasts about six months with twice weekly use on my long, fairly thick hair. The smell is fresh and somewhat floral.
Never causes “build-up,” nor weighing the hair down, it provides light-to-medium hold for styling. It is not drying whatsoever, but do not let the word “lotion” deceive you into thinking this is hydrating in the same way the aforementioned Biolage Shine Milk is hydrating. If your hair is chronically dry and unruly, you will need something else to add moisture and additional smoothness.
Hair Concern: Dull / Drab / Lifeless
Ion Crystal Clarifying Treatment
Before I rave about how wonderful this product is, I will first give you the bad news. Actually, depending upon your situation, this may be good news for you. This product claims to be color safe, however it is not. I have relied on this product many times to strip a build-up of color from my hair . It will not work in the way a color corrector does by any means. However, if your hair is newly colored, particularly over-bleached or highlighted hair, and it resulted in a darker shade than you would like, have no fear! This product will lighten your hair a notch or two without any damage whatsoever.
I enjoy experimenting with my hair color often, and I also like to use serums daily for smoothing and shine. This often leads to build-up which leaves the hair lifeless, drab and dull over time. Every time I use this product, it gives me my bouncy, shiny hair back. If your hair appears to be damaged or simply “funky” overall, I recommend trying this. Oftentimes excessive build-up can cause your hair to look a bit more damaged than it actually is.
It is gentle, non-drying and free of parabens. I highly recommend using with heat for optimal clarifying. Be sure to incorporate heat.
I always require two packets to cover my long hair completely.
Hair Concern: Bleached, Overprocessed & on the Brink of Death
Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment
This is the product I recommend for use when two issues are occurring: 1) your hair is breaking off in your hands and/or dead hair is all over your pillow when you wake in the morning, and 2) you do not have the financial means to see a professional.
If you are reading this section of the article, it is likely your hair is in frightening shape. Your desperation and panic are likely resonating through cyberspace. If you think your hair is in a bad state, I can assure you mine has likely been worse. I feel your pain.
My hair was once over-bleached and, for lack of a better word, nearly butchered by a salon. I lost almost half of my hair in one day. It was one of the most traumatic vanity-related moments of my life. A stylist deemed it appropriate to bleach my previously dyed black hair to “rubber-ducky yellow” blonde, using three processes of 40 volume developer bleach, along with a bizarre-looking heating device rotating above my head. I continue to shiver at the thought of that day.
I departed the salon in tears. My hair was literally coming out in chunks in between my fingers, and so it quickly became a brief era in my life where I considered hair extensions to be my saving grace. There was broken hair all over my pillow each morning for almost a month straight. Luckily, I am a neurotic and steadfast seeker when it comes to remedying any and every situation in my life. I discovered this amazing product shortly after the catastrophe took place, and it immediately stopped all breakage in its ugly tracks. After several sticky, messy, uncomfortable and smelly applications, my hair began to look and feel like actual hair again.
Follow the instructions on the bottles with a neurotic preciseness, and do not skip any steps. You must use heat, you must practice patience and you must allow the hair time to harden completely. This is not an ideal product for an impatient person who refuses to get sticky for the sake of vanity.
Be warned: Do not overuse this product. Once your hair is no longer breaking, proceed to my next recommendation (see below).
Redken Extreme CAT Protein Therapy Treatment
This is the product I recommend you try when you have over-processed your hair with bleach, and the result us mild-to-moderate breakage. This product is intense, but not so intense that one must be especially cautious to avoid overloading their hair with protein.
This is also a great product for maintenance. It is still not something you want to overdo, as any amount of protein can be tricky. Just please make sure to follow it with a moisturizing conditioner. When your hair is damaged from bleach, you need to condition in order to properly balance protein and moisture.