Unless you’ve never used hot tools or hair color and have treated your strands like pure gold your whole life, chances are good that you have some sort of hair damage – most people do. But there are people who deal with occasional split ends and breakage, and then there are people whose locks are really damaged AF. Personally, I fall into the latter category. I’ve been dying my hair for over ten years, and I’ve been bleaching and highlighting it every six weeks on the regular for the last three or four years now. I spend a lot of time in the sun, swimming in the ocean and pool. I rarely style my hair without using some sort of heat, like a blow dryer, curling wand, or flat iron. I really push it to the limit.
The truth is, though, my hair could be a whole lot worse – and the only reason it isn’t is that I use a lot of great products that make it as soft and shiny as it can possibly be considering everything else I do to it. I’m lucky enough to have easy access to this stuff, but I know not everyone is, so I want to share the goodness with you!
First, you need to know how to tell if your hair is very damaged or just needs a little extra love (you can obviously use these products either way). Damaged hair comes with these side effects: dry strands, split ends, a lot of breakage, frizz, and a lot of tangles. If your hair always looks and feels messy, if you can’t get it to grow at all, and if it usually falls flat (literally – no volume), it’s probably pretty bad. The best way to reverse the damage is to step away from the hot tools and let it go natural, but that’s not always possible. So, if that’s the case, use some products that will restore moisture, shine, softness, and overall health. These products for damaged hair are a great start:
1. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Marula Miracle Leave-In Conditioner
If your hair is damaged, that means it’s dry – and dry hair, obviously, requires a lot of moisture. A good conditioner isn’t enough. You have to add more moisture after the shower too, and that’s done best in the form of leave-in conditioners. My favorite cream leave-in conditioner is this Alba Botanica one. Whenever I use it, my hair looks noticeably shinier and feels better, even when I let it air dry. It’s kind of truly a miracle product, for a great price.
Alba Botanica Hawaiian Marula Miracle Leave-In Conditioner, $8.99, Alba Botanica
2. Alterna Bamboo Beach Breeze-Dry Balm Air Dry Styler
Damaged hair needs to be treated delicately, and one way you can do that is by minimizing how often you heat-style. Unfortunately, we weren’t all given hair that dries perfectly on its own, without the help of a blow dryer or a flat iron. In that case, grab this Alterna Air Dry Styler. It’s made to keep your hair shiny and frizz-free while it dries on it’s own. I love this one because it doesn’t weigh my hair down, and it’s made without parabens.
Alterna Bamboo Beach Breeze-Dry Balm Air Dry Styler, $22, Sephora
3. Sephora Hair Sleeping Masks
I can’t stress enough how important hair masks are for dry, damaged hair – they’re much more powerful than conditioners, and because they sit in your hair for a long time, your locks really absorb the extra moisture and end up looking amazing. The longer you leave them in the better, which is why I’m a huge fan of these Sephora sleeping masks. Each packet comes with a hair cap so that you can apply before bed, wake up, wash it out, and have gorgeous locks.
Sephora Hair Sleeping Masks, $5, Sephora
4. R+Co High Dive Moisture & Shine Creme
When you’re styling your hair, you should always try to use some sort of product made for moisture and shine, since, you know, that’s what you’re going for. I love to mix a shine cream with a leave-in conditioner for lots of hydration. This R+Co High Dive is one of my favorite favorites. Not only is the packaging ridiculously beautiful, but it also works while still feeling light.
R+Co High Dive Moisture and Shine Creme, $27, Birchbox
5. IGK Hair Lowkey Cleansing Walnut Scalp Scrub
You might only think about your strands, since that’s why is the most obvious when it comes to your hair, but you shouldn’t be forgetting about your scalp, either. Your scalp can be subject to a lot of product buildup, leaving it itchy – and after a long summer, the sun can leave it irritated. A scrub is a great way to cleanse your scalp and this one feels really, really good.
IGK Hair Lowkey Cleansing Walnut Scalp Scrub, $36, Sephora
6. Living Proof Prime Style Extender
Part of caring for damaged hair is cutting down on how often you style it if you use a lot of hot tools. One way to make your blowout last longer is to use a primer like this Living Proof option (the black one pictured on the far right). This Prime Style Extender is meant as base (think of it like you would think of makeup primer for your skin), and aside from prepping your hair for styling, it also prevents your hair from getting oily and dirty throughout the next few days so that you can go longer without having to do anything to it.
Living Proof Prime Style Extender, $20, Sephora
7. Playa Ritual Hair Oil
Hair oil is ideal for damaged hair – it delivers a big boost of moisture, maybe even more so than conditioner. It might sound intimidating, but you should try it! I love this Playa hair oil. It never weighs my hair down and it leaves it feeling so much softer. And you only need a little bit to get the job done!
Playa Ritual Hair Oil, $38, Playa
8. It’s A 10 Miracle Defrizzing Gel
Damaged hair often equals frizzy hair, especially in summer heat and humidity. I swear by this Defrizzing Gel from It’s A 10. It’s one of my favorite products ever and one of the only frizz control products that has actually prevented my hair from getting frizzy (not an easy task). It’s a gel, but it doesn’t leave your locks feeling or looking crunchy (as long as you don’t use a lot). It’s been an answer to my prayers and I recommend it to everyone.
It’s A 10 Miracle Defrizzing Gel, $17.48, Ulta
9. Kusco-Murphy Dry Leave-In
Personally, I won’t brush out my wet hair unless I spray it with a leave-in conditioner first. Brushing wet hair isn’t ideal, since your hair is super fragile when it’s wet, but sometimes it needs to be done. In that case, I always use this Kusco-Murphy spray first to get rid of any tangles and make the whole process a little easier on my strands. It also leaves it feeling soft!
Kusco-Murphy Dry Leave-In, $39, Ariva
10. Redken Diamond Oil Glow Dry
Getting damaged hair to look shiny can be a big struggle, since it’s probably naturally more dull. It starts at the beginning, with the shampoo you wash your hair with. I love this Redken Diamond Oil Glow Dry shampoo. It’s made with a lightweight glossing formula to enhance shine, and the oils get rid of any tangles that happen while in the shower.
Redken Diamond Oil Glow Dry Shampoo, $19, Ulta
11. IGK Hair Expensive Hi-Shine Topcoat
The name “topcoat” might lead you to believe this goes in before styling, but not really – it’s actually used in place of conditioner about once a week. You use it like a hair mask – work it through your hair, let it sit for a few minutes, then wash it out. It delivers shine and smoothness, and it’s made with UV protecting chemicals to protect your hair all day.
IGK Hair Expensive Hi-Shine Topcoat, $29, Sephora
12. StriVectin Hair Frizz Control Mist
Again, if you have damaged hair, chances are good that you have a lot of frizz. I love this frizz control mist because you can use it on wet or dry hair. I use it before styling, and then if my hair looks frizzy later on or the next day, I spritz it gently over strands to calm it down.
StriVectin Hair Frizz Control Mist, $26, Ulta
13. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Marula Miracle Moisture Shot
You know how a facial serum gives an extra boost of moisture to your skin? Well, this Albana Botanica Moisture Shot is basically a serum for your hair. You can use it in wet hair to give extra hydration, or smooth a small amount of it over dry hair whenever it needs a boost.
Alba Botanica Hawaiian Marula Miracle Moisture Shot, $8.99, Alba Botanica
14. evo lockdown smoothing treatment
This is basically a leave-in treatment for your hair – you apply it after washing and before styling to leave strands shiny and soft, and to fight frizz. Evo products are expensive, but honestly, they’re worth it. They work so well and you don’t need a lot of product to get the job done.
evo lockdown smoothing treatment, $35, evo hair
15. It’s A 10 Miracle Five Minute Repair for Blondes
If you bleach your hair, then it’s a special kind of damaged (*raises hand*). Bleach is so bad for your hair, and it leaves it super dry and frizzy. This It’s A 10 product is made for blonde hair, and after leaving this in for five minutes and then rinsing out, your strands will feel good as new.
It’s A 10 Miracle Five Minute Repair for Blondes, $15.79, Target
16. R+Co Palm Springs Pre Shampoo Treatment Mask
Conditioning masks are great, but pre-shampoo treatments are also awesome – and they don’t get as much attention. I love R+Co’s Palm Springs treatment. You apply it to dry hair before washing, then let it sit for at least 20 minutes (I try to do more!) before washing out. It leaves your hair soooooo soft.
R+Co Palm Springs Pre Shampoo Treatment Mask, $29, Birchbox
17. Ouai Curl Jelly
Damaged curly hair can really put a damper on your look because it can leave curls super frizzy. This Curl Jelly is supposed to help separate your curls, leaving them bouncy and soft.
The Ouai Curl Jelly, $26, Sephora
18. IGK Call Time Styling Primer
This IGK primer is so easy to use because it’s a spray. You can use it on wet hair before styling, use it for texture, or use it on dry hair to minimize frizz and give hair a shine boost. It works so well, and it has the most aesthetically pleasing bottle ever.
IGK Call Time Styling Primer, $27, Sephora
19. Redken All Soft Mega Mask
Redken has a set of hair masks that work really great, and come in huge bottles that will probably last forever. My favorite is the All Soft one (the gold in the middle), but the Extreme is great for damaged hair as well.
Redken All Soft Mega Mask, $29, Ulta
Which one of these products is your favorite? What did we forget to include? Share in the comments!