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How to Avoid Cutting Your Damaged Hair (And Stop The Damage Cycle)

Many people damage their hair every day just by combing it roughly. But that doesn’t mean that every time the damage gets too much you just cut it off. You’ll never get long lengths that way.

In this article, we’ll talk about the rate of hair growth, why it’s impossible to grow your hair long if you keep cutting it and how to preserve damaged hair when you have it.

Strengthen Your Damaged Hair to Avoid Cutting It

You can’t repair damaged hair. It’s dead, so there isn’t any way to put it back together once you get split ends from using too much heat or if the outer cuticle layer starts to corrode from chemicals. But it can be sealed. And sealing the hair helps stop the damage from getting worse.

It can also be strengthened from within to prevent further damage from occurring. It’s a bit of a journey, and it definitely takes some effort. Below are some hair strengthening routines that can help you avoid cutting your hair when it’s damaged beyond repair:

Pre-shampoo Coconut Oil Treatment

Coconut oil is scientifically proven to prevent protein loss from the hair when it’s used as a pre-shampoo treatment. This is because when you wash your hair, even if it isn’t damaged, the water makes it swell.

This swelling makes the hair cuticle stand up and become prone to being chipped or removed during detangling. If your hair is damaged, your hair is already porous and your hair cuticle is already lifted.

So a swollen hair shaft can further dislodge the cuticle and knock the shingles right off. Coconut oil seeps gradually into the hair shaft and doesn’t allow excess water to enter.

It also keeps detergents from entering the hair shaft and causing corrosion. So coconut oil protects the hair and hair cuticle during and after cleansing. Apply it generously to your hair, use a shower cap and sleep in it the night before shampooing.

Quote: Coconut oil is scientifically proven to protect the hair when used as a pre-shampoo treatment.

A Good Hair Mask

Hair Mask to Repair Damaged Hair

By ‘good hair mask’ we mean one that’s designed to penetrate the hair shaft. Many hair masks only coat the hair, and that’s okay.

But we need one that’s going to hydrate and add protein to your fragile strands. Hydration and protein work together to strengthen your tresses and keep them from being dry and brittle.

Look for hydrators like aloe vera and glycerin and hydrolyzed proteins of any kind, as they get into the hair shaft better than regular proteins.

Also look for ingredients that will soften your hair like the fatty alcohol Cetearyl alcohol, shea butter and avocado oil. You can pile the mask on after applying the coconut oil, put on the shower cap and sleep in the whole thing.

Quote: A good hair mask is one that penetrates the hair shaft with hydration and protein.

Bond Repairing Treatments

These work to repair the protein bonds inside the hair shaft that have been broken due to a chemical process like bleaching.

Many stylists use Olaplex bond repair treatments right after a color treatment to help repair the protein bonds. This helps the hair feel normal and less brittle.

Leave-in Conditioner

Like a hair mask that only coats the hair, a leave-in conditioner coats the hair, too, and this is very important. If the ends of the hair have a coating on them, it becomes more difficult for splits to travel.

Also if the hair cuticle is compromised, coating it with conditioner will help the hair to be less porous so that it doesn’t lose as much moisture. Most leave-ins contain a silicone ingredient to coat the hair for this reason.    

Hair Growth Shampoos and Serums

hair growth serum to repair hair damage

Eventually, you’ll want to cut off the damage because it is unwieldy and difficult to style. Plus it just looks bad. The thing is that you want to have enough hair so that by the time you cut off straggly ends your hair is pretty long.

That means you might want to grow your hair quicker. You can do this by using hair growth shampoos and serums.

How Does Hair Get Damaged?

It usually begins with the cuticles missing shingles due to mechanical damage like combing. Damaged hair might also have a lifted hair cuticle because of bleach, heat, relaxers, or color treatments.

The hair cuticle is a protective layer, so if it is compromised, the hair shaft inside, which is weaker, starts getting corroded. It is at this point that the hair begins to break off.

All of this takes time because hair is actually very strong. But when damage happens, it might seem like it happened all at once. For instance, maybe you always use heat, and that one chemical process you did last week was just too much for your hair and it started showing damage.

The best thing is to treat your hair as gently as possible, and if you use heat don’t use chemicals and vice versa. Also, try to space out your chemical treatments and never do one on top of another.

Here’s to healthy hair!

Stopping the Cycle of Hair Damage

ways to avoid hair damage

Here’s the bad news: if you want to avoid cutting your hair, you’ll probably have to stop doing whatever caused the damage. That doesn’t mean you stop combing your hair to avoid mechanical damage. It means:

  • Be gentle: Detangle in the shower while the conditioner is in your hair. It will provide the necessary lubrication to comb through your hair easily. Pick out any knots carefully and try not to brush your hair while it’s wet because it might snap.
  • Avoid heat: For severely damaged hair, heat is going to make it fall right out. If you’re used to blow-drying your hair, try to get used to air drying it. You can also “plop” your curls with a t-shirt while wet to encourage curl definition so you don’t have to use a curling iron
  • No corrosive chemicals: To avoid your hair becoming super-fragile and breaking off, stay away from color treatments, perms, relaxers and keratin treatments.
  • No tugging: Try not to play in your hair, unless you enjoy seeing it come out in your fingers. Also avoid tight ponytails, barrettes, and anything that might tug on your tresses — that includes hair extensions. 

If you’re working on strengthening and sealing your hair while avoiding weakening your hair further, you’re already on the road to recovery.

Rate of Hair Growth vs. Trimming

damaged hair with split ends

As the hair weathers, the oldest part suffers damage first. So the hair becomes damaged from the tips first. This is not something unusual. In fact, it’s normal because the hair is older on the tips and weather faster.

Most people believe that in order to stop split ends from traveling up the hair, it’s best to trim them every 6 to 10 weeks. There’s truth in that. But there are other ways to stop fissures and split ends from traveling, which we’ll talk about later.

The point here is that if you trim a few inches every eight weeks on average, you’re causing your hair to grow slowly or not at all. Hair only grows a half-inch per month.

So if you’re conservative and cut it only an inch, your hair won’t get longer. If you go to a salon, the stylist will probably take two inches, which means your hair gets a little shorter with each visit. Gasp!

Note: The point is that if you trim regularly, your hair won’t get longer.


Here are some frequently asked questions about damaged hair:

Can damaged hair be repaired without cutting?

It can’t be repaired, but it can usually be coated, strengthened and hydrated to a degree.

How often should I cut my hair if it’s damaged?

Follow the tips in this article and wait six months for your hair to grow before you decide to cut off the damage.

How do I know if my hair is damaged beyond repair?

It might be mushy from hygral fatigue if the hair cuticle is compromised and the hair very porous. Or it might be so brittle that touching it causes it to break.

Can damaged hair still grow?


Can damaged hair grow back healthy?


How can I hydrate my hair?

By using hair masks and locking in moisture with leave-in conditioners.

How do I grow my hair faster?

Try hair growth shampoos and serums.

Does damaged hair grow slower?

If your hair follicles have also suffered damage because of corrosive chemicals or high heat, the hair might grow in slower.

How do I stop getting split ends?

Split ends happen due to rough combing and brushing, excessive use of heat, and corrosive chemicals. Try to find alternatives to avoid split ends.

Can split ends be repaired?

No. They can only be sealed.

Why is my hair still damaged after cutting it?

You used dull shears to cut it, or you didn’t cut all the damage off.

What are the signs of damaged hair?

Lack of hydration and elasticity. The hair snaps easily and there are frizzy, split ends. Usually, there is also breakage mid-shaft.

What’s the deal with dry hair?

If it is genetic, your dry hair will grow from dry scalp. Otherwise, dryness is a sign of a hair cuticle that’s missing shingles and is unable to hold in moisture. Try to use less heat.

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