Wednesday, February 26, 2014

5 for Fighting... dry, damaged, and dull hair (aka how I got my hair back to health after extensions)

I'll never forget the day I walked into my new salon, feeling hair defeated after I'd gotten a bad hair cut, bad highlight... and seriously, am I the only one that takes their hair to heart?

She must have sensed my pain, as she told me what I already knew about my sad state of hairdom... then nodded her head and said, I know what to do.

4 hours, and more than that in hundreds of dollars later, I walked out of the salon a new woman.  A new woman with long hair.  Very long and perfectly blonde hair.  And for a girl who had never been able to grow her own hair more than a few inches below her shoulders, I wondered where hair extensions had been all my life.

That is, until a few years later, when I came to a point in my life where my bank account, nor the health of my hair could take it any more.  And after they were finally removed, I was left with even shorter, and even more damaged hair than I'd started with.

But, man oh man, it was nice while it lasted.

So, today I want to share some of the things I did to get my hair back to health (and even better than ever) after extensions.  And while I'm not a professional, my hair and I have been through a lot.  I've tried many different products and routines, and have learned a few great tips along the way.  Again, these products and tips might not work for everyone (and I'm not working with any of these companies in any way), but they have worked for me this last year... with fantastic results.

*Note, the photos above were taken "raw" with no styling or products (except some anti-snap so I didn't damage my hair while I blow dried it).  My hair is still a work in progress!

The 5 that were up for the Fight

I'm not even sure who first recommended Redken products, but the first one that I tried, which I can honestly say changed my hair life forever, was Redken's Anti-snap.  My hair was dry.  My hair would break... a lot.  And my hair just wouldn't seem to fill in or grow.  Until I started using these 5 products.

1. Extreme Anti-snap.  This product is amazing.  I use this every day before I blow dry my hair.  It doesn't have a noticeable smell, and it doesn't weigh down my already very fine hair.  This has been the key product, in my mind, to bringing my hair back to health.

2. Extreme Shampoo.  I also use this almost every day.  Again, this product doesn't have much of a fragrance, and offers a nice lather.  A solid choice for shampoo.

3. Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo.  This is a great shampoo to get rid of hair buildup, and I use this once a week.  Used more than that, it becomes too drying for my hair.  It has the most amazing citrus smell- like mandarin oranges.  This is a newer product that I've been using, but so far so good.  It even helps with brassiness.

4. Extreme Conditioner.  A great conditioner, that doesn't feel too heavy, yet offers deep moisture.  Again, not much of a fragrance.  This is my go to conditioner that I've been using for the last year.

5. All Soft.  I love this conditioner.  It's like giving your hair a hug with creamy moisture.  It's a bit heavier, so I only this every other day, alternating with the Extreme Conditioner.  This one also has a mild fragrance.  The only con is that since it is so moisturizing, it can leave your hair looking a bit greasy the next day.  This too, is a newer product for me.  But, I took a picture of my hair a month ago when I first started using in, and in that short time frame, I can see a huge difference... as can my hairstylist.

Some of my Favorite Styling Products 

1. Dove Dry Shampoo.  I've found that all dry shampoos are not alike. I first tried another line that was highly rated (and smelled delicious), but it dried out my hair, and it felt more brittle overall.  Dove Dry Shampoo leaves my hair feeling soft and clean.  But, this might not work for you if you have dark hair, as it leaves a light residue.  I've found this blends in after you brush you hair, not to mention helps a bit as the roots are growing out.  But, if you're not a blonde, this one might not be for you.

2. John Freida Frizz-Ease.  I recently tried this product simply because I got in on a next-to-nothing sale price.  And I'm glad I did.  If your hair is like mine, you're always battling fly-away hairs.  This product tames the frizz, just like it says, without weighing it down.  It actually adds a beautiful shine, and I remember the first time I used it thinking "wow, I look like those shiny-hair girls in the magazines."  Just remember not to over do it.  One or two drops are enough.  And like with the All Soft conditioner, the next day your hair might feel and look a bit greasier, so you might not want to use this product every day.

3. Tresemme Hair Spray.  This is also a newer product that I've been using, but similar to the dry shampoo, it doesn't leave my hair feeling dry or brittle, yet does it's job.  If you have dry or damaged hair, look for a hair spray that adds hold, but isn't a freezing hair spray.  This one, at a lower level 3 seems to work well.  And the smell works for me, even with my fragrance allergies.

And a few more tips...

1. Don't wash your hair every day.  Dry shampoo is your friend, and will help keep the moisture in, and cut down on damage from blow dryers.  Depending on my work schedule, I go 2-3 days in between shampoos.  This doesn't mean I go 2-3 days in between showers, though.  Invest in a fun shower cap for the in between hair washing days.

2. Before you wash your hair, brush it out.  This seems like a no-brainer, but how often do you jump out of bed and into the shower... even after you'd tossed and turned all night, adding tangles to your hair?  Hair is the strongest when it's dry, so try to do the least amount of brushing it when it's wet.

3. Protect your hair from the blow dryer.  There are several heat protectors on the market now, but you can safely rely on products like Anti-Snap to help provide a barrier between your hair and that damaging blow dryer heat.  Straightening, or curling your hair?  Then you might want to kick it up and splurge on a product made especially for heat protecting.  Simply said... never blow dry your hair "naked."

4. After you've blown dried your hair, turn the setting to cool.  This will cool down your hair quicker, and help keep more moisture in.

5. Braid your hair before you go to bed.  Not a tight braid, but a loose side braid.  This will help guard against tangles while you sleep.  Just make sure not to use a tight rubber band on the ends (the most vulnerable part).  I use a gentle clip that protects my hair, and my head in case I end up sleeping on it.

What are some of your favorite hair products and routines?  And do you have any stories of how you brought your hair back to health?  Let me know in the comments.  And I'll keep you updated as my hair progresses.


  1. I feel your pain, Diana. While I've never had extensions, one day I had the brilliant idea that I wanted to strip out all the many years of red dye from my gray hair and bleach it blond. Let's just say I'm lucky I had any hair left.

    Thanks for the review of the products and for including how they smell. I am ridiculously allergic to so many scents in hair products, that it takes forever to find one I can use. I will definitely look into these.

    1. I'm sorry you've gone through similar stuff!!! And I'm with you... I have a hard time with any fragrances, and these haven't bothered me a bit. Also, I'm not sure if this is still going on, but I saw that Ulta was having buy 2, get 1 free Redken products.

      But, if I would just have to pick one, I'd go for the anti-snap... I usually get it on Amazon. Thanks for stopping by :-)

  • Great tips! I also suffer from damaged hair especially in the winter. No matter what formula I buy to color it, it still seems limp and miserable. I loved the products you suggested. Will be giving them a try. Found your blog on twitter from a RT I did. I just love it!!

    1. Thanks Deb! Everyone's hair is so different, but these have made a huge difference! I hope they also work for you. And thanks for stopping by, so glad you found me on twitter :-) And thank you so much for the RT, too!!

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