Since posting my admission, I've had my hair cut twice, both with intensive moisturizing treatments (which made my hair feel like butter, buttttaaah). I've gone a bit crazy with intensive treatments, different shampoos and conditioners, etc.
There was a lot of stuff that worked for the majority of my hair (which is a bit damaged from highlights and heat styling, but isn't completely fried to a brillo pad consistency), but some of that didn't help those really bad areas on the very top of my head. So, after much searching, trial and error, I have managed to find a few things that have helped. I thought I'd share them here, let me know if you've had a similar experience or found something that works for you (and not all of them are in that picture above). In this post I am only referencing my super damaged areas. I have been trying out some other products as well, and I'll be writing up reviews, but these are all the products that worked the best for my super fried, dried out and frizzy areas.
Just a few comments on my general strategies. I don't wash, dry and style every day. I typically go every other day or every 3 days for washing my hair. Day #2 is usually fine, if I need to squeeze in a day #3 that's when I will go for a bit of dry shampoo.
I've noticed that I can't let my hair air dry. (Which would be nice, wouldn't it? To avoid the heat?) Air drying seems to make it frizzy, frizzy, frizzy and nothing will take that away. So, I need to blow dry.
After my last hair cut, my hair is much easier to style straight rather than curling or leaving my waves in place. So, I dry it straight and then use a flat iron on the frizzy areas. I know that sounds bad, I damaged with heat, and I'm just using more, right? However, I can't get those super frizzy areas to look remotely decent without a little bit of heat. I'm using the HSI 1" Flat Iron, which has a heat selector and can go as low as 140 F. I don't go quite that low, but I use it at a very low setting, go over the area only enough to smooth things out a little, I certainly am not going for perfection. Once slightly flat ironed, my hair then seems to defrizz itself over time (this only happens with the small amount of flat ironing), and day #2 is always the smoothest and softest day for me.
Shampoos & Regular Conditioners
I was a bit surprised at how much different shampoos would affect my hair. I kind of knew it would, but really, I thought the biggest difference would be in which conditioners.
My hair likes gentle shampoos, sulfate free seems to help, and if there is a lot of hydration involved, that is also good. Laid Brand Shady Girl was a good option, as is Pureology Hydrate. Pureology also sent me their new Precious Oil products to try out (pictured here) and I did even better with this line than with Hydrate.
I've found that my super dry area needs to be deeply conditioned at least twice a week. If I'm only washing ever 2-3 days, this means that I'm usually using an intensive hydrating treatment with each washing. I can not take the time to do this the "right"/super hydrating way. Which is to put it on your hair, put on a shower cap or towel or something, and give it a loooong time to sink in and really do the job. Instead, I only have time for the quick and dirty way, to apply it to the damaged areas. I do this after washing, while I'm washing my body and shaving. The steam from the shower does help it sink in and work a bit better, and I probably let it have about 5 minutes to do its job while I'm multitasking.
I do need to clarify that I don't apply the intensive mask treatments to all of my hair each time. About once a week I do all of my hair, but in general I'm applying the intensive treatment to the damaged area and regular conditioner to the rest of my hair.
My favorite Intensive Treatments so far are: Pureology Precious Oil Softening Hair Masque, Agadir Moisture Masque and Bracato Cloud 9 Miracle Repair Treatment. The Pureology was obviously sent to me by Pureology, and is basically just a thick conditioner that works pretty well. The Agadir is more like an almost solid oil masque (it has a lot of Argan Oil in it), but it does not make my hair greasy. Finally, the Bracato has the consistency of a regular conditioner, but is much more moisturizing. It's the same product my stylist used in the salon for my hydrating treatments, so I ordered a giant bottle through Amazon.
I've been rotating through the 3 intensive treatments, which seems to give me the best results. Somehow if I repeat a treatment a few times in a row, it seems to not be as effective, and my hair is more frizzy/dry on those days. If I'm rotating through and use an intensive treatment for every washing, my hair feels much better though not quite normal.
I should mention that there are a few intensive treatments that I mentioned previously which seemed to actually make my damaged area worse. These were all great for the rest of my (just typically) damaged hair, just not good for the very damaged areas.
The first is the infamous Coconut Oil mask. I tried this when I was out of town right after really messing up my hair. I left it in for hours. (I did this in the hotel because my hubby really hates coconut, and really, I didn't have anything else to do.) I was pretty disappointed, my damaged areas were actually worse. They were more frizzy and dry. They were more apparent because the rest of my hair was super hydrated, shiny and looked really healthy without being weighed down. I'm sure I'll try this again when the damaged areas are gone, it really seemed like it was great for my hair otherwise. Just sometime when my hubby is out of town.
The second one was the Paul Mitchell Keratin Intensive Treatment recommended by my stylist. Just like the other treatments, this was great for the rest of my damaged hair, but it truly made the really damaged area feel like straw. I've hoarded my tube away for use after my hair has recovered.
Finally, I've noticed that there are a few styling products that I need to sneak in to my routine. I am not one of those people that uses the same item each time, I'll randomly grab a mousse and throw it in if I think that I *might* possibly consider curling my hair the next day. I'll use a leave in conditioner randomly (it doesn't really help much, so I feel like it is a stupid extra step, but then I sometimes feel guilty and thrown some in to the mix). But, there are 2 things that I'm always adding in now.
While I'd used hair oils previously, I've switched from Shu Uemura's Essence Absolue to a L'Oreal. While I've loved the Shu for years (I'm still using that same bottle from my review over 2 years ago, and I use it at least 4-5x/week), for some strange reason the L'Oreal EverSleek Precious Oil Treatment does a much better job on those damaged areas. It smooths and softens like no other. I just use a little in my palm and rub it over wet hair, then use a wide tooth comb to evenly distribute it.
Next, I grab about a nickel size of Garnier Frucis Sleek and Shine Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk, which I also comb through my hair. I used this a lot years ago, and I randomly grabbed a bottle (it was on an end cap when I was at the grocery store), and I've found that it really helps to keep all the hard work I've put into my hair lasting longer. Without it, things do get frizzy and dry looking again. This really allows me to go 2-3 days without feeling too straw-like or frizzy.
So, after all of that rambling, I'm sure there are only about 2 or 3 people still reading. If you've had this same problem, please let me know! I'd love to know what intensive treatments have worked for you.
Some of these products were provided, some I purchased myself.