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Fried Hair Update: What’s Working?

how to treat fried, super damaged and dried out hairRemember a few months ago when I confessed that I fried my hair with my curling iron? And I was in serious need of moisture for my hair? I luckily wasn’t so bad off that I needed to cut all of my hair off (thank goodness, because it was the very top layer of my hair and the entire hair shaft. I would have had to basically shave my head!) Instead, I was able to get a haircut and super moisturizing treatment at my salon and things felt much better. Which gave me hope for saving my hair with products.

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. I will fix my fried hair!

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.

Intensive Treatments
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.

Oils/Styling Products
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.

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About Me

Iā€™m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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  1. 9.24.12
    Christina said:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I perm once a year, and if I don't time it right, I end up blow drying every day just to keep the curl, so this is super helpful for a how to on keeping your wavy/curly hair semi controlled without using heat ALL the time!

  2. 9.24.12
    Japolina said:

    I've been using moroccian oil by organix. It was a lot cheaper than the real moroccian oil and is really nice.

    Glad your hair is recovering.

  3. 9.24.12
    Pammy said:

    I am so glad that you are finding products to help your poor hair! My hair was recently fried too. So, I feel your pain. I, too, have had really great results with the Pureology Precious Oil Mask. I know that i have mentioned this product to you before. So, sorry if I am repeating myself. šŸ™‚ You should for sure try Aphogee's 2-step protein treatment. It is my Holy Grail of hair repair treatments. You can find it at Sally's. šŸ™‚

  4. 9.24.12
    Anonymous said:

    I want to try the Garnier now, I do not blow dry and try to deal with the aftermath of that . Budget leaves me no choice but to color at home and it beats up my very long hair. Lately I have been loving Back To Basics for thick coarse hair. I can really feel the difference on my damaged ends.

  5. 9.25.12
    Anonymous said:

    I fried my hair back in June. I found a great product that has really helped with the brittleness — Joico K-Pak Revitaluxe Restorative Treatment. Like you, I've noticed repeat usage seems to be a bad idea. I will work some of your suggestions into the rotation.

  6. 9.25.12
    Ezen said:

    I've read that Kerastase Masquintense Hair Mask is really good but I haven't had the chance to try it yet because it's so expensive šŸ™ One day… one day…

  7. 9.27.12
    Sophie said:

    I can't believe the coconut mask made it worse? :S I tried one of those hot oil treatments once – the ones you hold under the shower – and all it achieved as a slick, oily mess and it took like 4 washes to get it back to normal.

  8. 9.27.12
    Lizzclare said:

    my hair is fried, bleached and in recovery lol
    I use redken deep fuel treatments, which is amazing then wash and condition with redkens all soft range which restores the softness and shine of damaged hair.
    For heat protection I use the brasiliana spray or kerastese thermique. Redkens iron spray is good also
    For really damaged hair when my bleached hair resembled gum I used aphogee products the protein treatment and moisture balance shampoos.
    Phillip kinsgleys treatment called elastizer is amazing too gives u some bounce and plumped up hair

  9. 9.28.12
    Anonymous said:

    I also fried my hair, and I'm finding a lot of success with the Silk Essence Deep conditioning mayonnaise. I find this at Sally's Beauty Supply.

  10. 10.2.12
    Anonymous said:

    I have terribly frizzy, dry hair with no heat required to make it that way so I'm a conditioning fanatic. In no particular order, I'm a huge fan of: DevaCurl Nopoo, which is shampoo with absolutely no suds that feels like conditioner; Living Proof's restore treatment; Moraccan Oil's deep conditioner; Davines' Oil (better than any other oil I've tried); Kinky Curly's Knot Today, which is a super lightweight very moisturizing leave in that you can find at some Targets; and the in salon Keratin treatments (they make less toxic ones than the Brazilian Blowout and they seal your cuticle and infuse protein, they're seriously amazing).

  11. 10.7.12

    I can't tell if you've tried putting just the tiniest bit of a dimethicone based leave-on product on the damaged areas after washing and drying. Place just a little in your hand, rub your palms together to create a thin layer and then gently squeeze the damaged strands or work them briefly between your fingers after styling. The idea being not to weight the hair down too much but to let the dimethicone coat and seal the damaged strands, controlling the frizz and shining the lusterless cooked keratin.

  12. 10.7.12

    I'm pretty sure the Garnier has some silicone in it. I do think silicone helps a lot with something like this!

  13. 11.11.12
    Gigi said:

    Thank you for this!! My hair was awesome and i did some horrible things to it, (semi perm dye that turned out blackish red instead of strawberry blonde, washing with dishoap- someone told me to do that- and trying to break up the color with spray in highlights – BAD IDEA!!!, then a hot oil treatment that was too hot and fried the ends even more- didnt know that could even happen) I went to an Aveda salon and was given a cut, color to fill it, a treatment, and left with their DRY moisturizing shampoo and conditioner with buriti oil, as well as a leave in damage repair conditioner. So far they have helped alot after a couple uses, but nothing miraculous has happened. My hair was so damaged it was like starting to do the cotton candy thing, so maybe Aveda is too natural, or maybe I just have to use it more. Does anyone have any experience with Aveda products? They told me they have a money back guarantee, so it seems like it has to be pretty good….thanks again for all the info

  14. 8.13.13
    Alison M said:

    I adore theBalm En Root Moisturizing shampoo and conditioner and Organix Macadamia Oil Hair Mask. I recently purchased the shampoo and conditioner of that and am eager to try it. Another thing that works for me is to rinse and condition my hair on day three, but postpone shampoo for another cycle.

    I'm glad you're finding things that work for you and that you didn't have to cut all your hair off šŸ™‚

  15. 12.4.13

    It's so nice to know that there are other women out there who have the same problems with damaged hair issues…sucks when it happens but thank goodness there are products out there that helps.
    I recently had highlights put in my super short hair…OMG…welp it HAD to become shorter…YIKES…can u say FRIED to the max…needless to say the hair stylists knew she screwed up and provided me with a LG. Bottle of Joico K-Pac…. AMAZING product…I did have my hair asymmetrical style now it's a cute pixie cut…thank goodness I can play off this style. The intense reconstruction of Joico is simply an OMG deep conditioning like non other I have ever tried…and believe me I've used many, many of different ones..smh…lol
    Thanks Victoria Katherine

  16. 12.4.13

    I recently had my hair highlighted….the stylist screwed up big time…however i went from short to super short pixie…. thankfully I can play off this style…lol…anywho she gave me a LG tube of Joico K-pac…simply an amazing intense reconstruction deep conditioning…after one overnight in a shower cap it did the job…however I will continue to use it once a week till I get a few more trims…lol
    Thanks Victoria Katherine

  17. 12.23.13

    I can attest to what Victoria says! I have blonde hair and normally my hair is super healthy no split ends even (after years of good products- Joico reconstructor on occasion and Pureology moisture shampoo and conditioner) but recently my curling iron shorted out while I was using it and it literally burned my hair smoke and everything! I was devastated. I used Coconut oil treatment and few times and still didn't seem any better. Went to the store and bought some more Joico reconstructor and not only can I brush and style it, it is almost as good as normal after one use!!!