Rehab Your Hair

Are you torturing your tresses? Stop the cycle of abuse with these tips.

Rehab Your Hair
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Right before my wedding, at age 34, I lost my hair color virginity. I loved the new subtle, tawny highlights but soon discovered that making even a small tweak to your tresses can be a slippery slope—leading to more treatments and eventually, damage. “It can become addictive,” says Rita Hazan, owner of the Rita Hazan Salon in new York City. “So many people think that if a little is good, a lot will be even better.” unfortunately, that credo can wreak havoc on your hair. The good news is that it is possible to stop the damaging cycle. If your hair needs a fresh start or just a vacation from everyday harm (i.e., heat styling, drying products, even aging), consider hair rehab for yourself. I started to see an improvement in my hair’s texture in three to six months—and you can, too.

Tress offense: Dyeing a slow death More than half of the women in the U.S. begin coloring their hair in their youth, long before they do so to cover grays. But color—especially if you’re lightening your locks—can have a devastating effect on your hair’s cuticle, the shinglelike outermost layer. Lightening requires swelling the fiber and lifting the cuticle to get to the cortex, the innermost layer, where melanin (the actual color pigments) exists. Once the cuticle is compromised, moisture escapes and hair can lose its strength, flexibility and luster. “When the cuticle gets dry, it starts to break and crack,” says Pat Peterson, vice president of research and development at Blaine, Minn.-based Aveda.
Rehab Rx: Taking a color break doesn’t have to equal a yearlong prison sentence of bad, dull hair days. Consider a glaze, a shineboosting treatment that adds moisture and glossiness to your mane and lasts through multiple shampoos. The professional versions are inexpensive treatments, and the latest at-home products use natural ingredients, such as olive and macadamia nut oils and vitamin E. When used weekly, a glaze protects from heat styling, keeps color from fading and adds shine. (Stylist tip: Mix a dollop into your conditioner.) And thanks to the many new high-tech, color-specific root concealers that are even water-and-stain resistant, you no longer have to suffer through the awkward growing-out transition period. If you’re concerned about how your lightened hair will look against a very dark natural shade and just can’t get used to the idea, “Add a few small, well-placed darker pieces near the roots to break up the line of demarcation,” says Hazan. Problem solved.
Get your fix: Oscar Blandi At Home Salon Glaze Shine Rinse ($25; adds shine and manageability—yet not color—to every hair type with plant emollients and without parabens.
Rita Hazan Root Concealer ($24; comes in an array of natural-looking, chemical-free colors and washes out in one shampoo.