Damaged hair doesn't have to be a perpetual state of being. It's something that can happen when the weather changes, or after exposure to chemical processes, hair dye, or environmental aggressors, like free radicals and the sun. But with the right products, you can turn straw-like strands into a lustrous mane. The key to all of this, though, is finding the absolute best hair products for damaged hair, which are luckily available in tons of different forms (for tons of different budgets).
When it comes to damaged hair, moisture is the name of the game, since hair that's been over-processed tends to have a compromised cuticle. That means your hair is unable to hang on to hydration as effectively, which leads to breakage and a less-than-ideal texture. Just like with dry skin, look for hydrating ingredients in your shampoos, conditioners, leave-ins, and masks. Coconut, prickly pear, and argan oils are some of the most popular choices in hair-repairing treatments, while proteins, both synthetic and plant-based, are also great for reversing damage, as they help strengthen weakened hair.
Ahead, find nine of the best treatments for damaged hair — from shampoos and masks to leave-in conditioners and oils, all at various price points.
1. The Overall Best Treatment For Damaged Hair
If you've ever gotten a chemical process — be it having your hair bleached or a permanent straightening treatment — your stylist has likely used a version of Olaplex on your hair. This version is the at-home formula that's safe enough to use on your own. Olaplex is a cult-favorite among hair colorists and beauty editors because it works to relink the bonds in hair that have become broken by chemical processes, heat styling, and mechanical damage. It's protein-laced, so it actually uses what hair is made of to help rebuild these bonds. The one drawback? This stuff is potent, so you don't want to use it too often. Once a week in the shower is plenty — or else you run the risk of overwhelming your hair with protein, which can lead to more breakage.
2. Best Drugstore Treatment For Damaged Hair
For a more affordable alternative, Neutrogena's Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask provides serious hydration for just over $10. It contains three botanical ingredients that work to intensely repair each individual strand of hair: olive extract, which penetrates from the inside; meadowfoam to hydrate the center; and sweet almond to coat the outer layer, wrapping it in a blanket of hydration. Leave it on for up to five minutes after shampooing, once or twice a week (or in place of conditioner), and you'll be well on your way to smoother, shinier hair in no time.
3. Best Shampoo For Damaged Hair
A healthy hair regimen begins with your shampoo, and for those dealing with brittleness and damage, Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Shampoo is a must-try. It's free of sulfates, silicones, and parabens, so your hair won't get dried out any further, which is key. What it does have, however, is deeply-nourishing algae extract; panthenol, to help rebuild elasticity; rosehip oil, which is packed with fatty acids for strengthening; and shea butter, one of the most hydrating ingredients out there. Start with this stuff, invest in a great conditioner (perhaps the one just below?), and add in a weekly mask for maximum repairing.
4. Best Conditioner For Damaged Hair
When dealing with damaged hair, skipping conditioner isn't an option. Klorane's Conditioner With Mango Butter is the perfect daily treatment for nourishing your hair back to life. The hero ingredient is, of course, mango butter, which does more than make your hair smell delicious. It works to soften and hydrate without weighing your hair down, and also helps with detangling, so there'll be less of a need to use a brush or comb, which in turn can contribute to damage. Klorane's formula is also free of parabens, silicone, and sulfates, so you don't have to worry about it causing any further dryness or breakage.
5. Best Hair Oil For Damaged Hair
If a hair oil is more your speed for a leave-in treatment, reach for this one from Moroccanoil. It contains pure argan oil, which is intensely hydrating and perhaps one of the best things you can put in your hair, period. Rich in fatty acids, vitamin E, and antioxidants, argan oil is excellent at detangling knots, strengthening hair, increasing shine, and minimizing frizz. You can use it as a conditioner or a leave-in treatment — just keep it away from your roots, as it might make them look greasy.
6. Best Hair Mask For Damaged Hair
Adding a mask to your weekly routine is one of the most effective ways to bring your hair back to life, and NatureLab.Tokyo's Perfect Repair treatment is one of the best formulas out there. It's fortified with bamboo stem cells, which help encourage healthy hair growth, as well as keratin to deeply penetrate each strand and strengthen them from the inside out. It also contains argan oil and prickly pear oil, two of the most intensely hydrating ingredients on the planet. Free of sulfates, gluten, mineral oil, and other questionable chemicals, you can use this once or twice a week, or in place of conditioner.
7. Best Travel-Friendly Hair Mask For Damaged Hair
Take your deep-conditioning treatment on the go with Amika's The Kure Intense Repair Mask. This little 2-ounce bottle contains big-time ingredients for stressed-out strands, like sea buckthorn berry, which is rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins C and A, as well as shea butter and a mix of natural oils that contain other essential fatty acids to reinforce weakened hair. What's more, it's free of nasty ingredients like mineral oil and sulfates, and is TSA-approved to come with you in your carry-on. If you plan on going someplace where you'll be swimming or out in the sun, bringing along a treatment like this is essential.
8. Best Texturizing Gel For Damaged Hair
Having damaged hair doesn't mean you can't get in on the styling fun. IGK's Rich Kid Coconut Oil allows you to add texture while also providing serious hydration, thanks to the coconut oil in the formula. Though it's technically a texturizing gel, it's the opposite of typically drying salt sprays and other similar texturizers, which makes it a particularly unique styling product. It adds body and a tousled effect, depending on how you style it, and can even be used on thin hair that typically feels weighed down by most other oil-based products. Plus, it doesn't contain sulfates, so you don't have to worry about it causing further dryness.
9. Best Leave-In Treatment For Damaged Hair
A leave-in conditioner, like this one from Davines, is paramount not only for nourishing damaged hair back to life, but also for styling. It utilizes roucou oil, which some folks have championed as more effective than argan oil, to smooth and soften, and the formula also fights frizz, detangles knots, and adds serious shine. The more you use it, the healthier your hair will get, so spritz it on liberally after towel-drying.
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