How I Saved My Damaged Hair

A few years ago I decided to go blonder than my usual highlights. I wanted to be platinum so badly and, despite every colorist’s plea not to do it, I went for it anyway. And I loved it! Having a chic short bob with the platinum blonde was and will be my favorite look ever.

For about 6 months… then my hair took a turn for the worse. It started breaking every time I brushed it. It looked dry and brittle. It was not healthy. So I added Olaplex to my routine, I washed it less, dried it less, and did everything I could to maintain the blonde that I loved so much.

I let that go on for a few years until this Christmas when I looked in the mirror at my broken hairs sticking up in all directions and said enough is enough. It’s time to move on!

The first step was to ditch the bleach… which also felt good on an environmental level.

Coloring my hair: So I had a chat with my colorist, Lindsay, about how we could make my hair darker while still maintaining the ashy hues that I love. She suggested a 3-step approach to changing the color. The first step was to dye my roots darker and add lowlights to my already very blonde hair. That resulted in the photo above. With that step alone, my hair felt so much better. It was softer and the hay-like feeling disappeared almost immediately.

Not to mention I loved the color! For some reason, I feel like the darker color goes with a longer length so I’ve simultaneously been growing it out. This is the inspiration photo I’ve been using as I grow out the very blonde pieces. I don’t think I’ll ever go total brunette. I like the highlights, but platinum is out of the picture for a while. I love before and after pic of the day I first went in to make the change…

Drying my hair: At home, I have also been making some changes to heal my sad hair! When I dry it, the first step is is to dry it as much as possible with a hair towel before taking heat to it. Most hair towels out there are made with microfiber fabric but you can find great viscose and bamboo versions on Amazon (I have a few in the “beauty” section of my Amazon shop). I personally use this organic cotton hair towel because I like the feeling of cotton better. I squeeze out as much water as possible then wrap my hair in the towel immediately after getting out of the shower.

After I finish my face routine and body lotion with the towel in my hair, I squirt a small dab of Olaplex No. 3 on my fingers and run it through the ends of my hair, which helps to prevent heat damage. At this point, I’ve been trying to let my hair air dry for at least an hour before taking heat to it. I find that when I do this, the blow-out turns out a lot better and my hair looks silkier and healthier. That has been a key step for me.

A few months ago, I switched to the Revlon Hot Air Hair Dryer Brush on a friend’s recommendation and it’s made the whole process a lot easier. I’m really not great at doing my own hair and this has allowed me to give myself blowouts without the help of a flatiron or too much product.

Hair treatment: My friend Kelly swears by Pantene Rescue Shots and finally convinced me to try them. Wow…. The results shocked me and still shock me every time I use it which is once a week. This is not a “clean” product but I feel ok using it because it’s only a small amount once a week and it makes a huge difference in my hair health. All you do is run it through your hair after shampoo, like a conditioner, and then wash it right out. But when you get out of the shower, your hair feels like soft baby hair and I’m pretty sure it’s magic.

Her other tip was to use a clarifying shampoo once a week to prevent build-up so I’ve been using Moroccan Oil Clarifying Shampoo on the days when I do Rescue Shots so that I don’t forget. On the other wash days, I’m trying to find a clean shampoo and conditioner to switch to that keeps my colored hair healthy so any recs are welcome.

Silk pillowcase: You can read my full silk pillowcase review here. It has helped a lot with breakage both before and after I made the color change but now I wake up with almost perfect-looking hair every morning. It’s not frizzy and all over the place after a full-night’s sleep.

Supplements: I don’t take Biotin but I started up with fish oil again after kind of forgetting about it for a while. Whenever I take it regularly, I see a difference in my hair, skin, and nails. Not only does it help my hair grow faster, a current goal, but it makes it shiny and more lustrous. I still have a lot of broken pieces that I want to grow out and I’m hoping that the fish oil makes this happen faster.

So there you have it. I will continue to share updates as my hair gets longer and darker and healthier. Any tips and product recs are very much welcome!

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  1. Barbara said:

    I have curly hair, but I went through a similar process years ago when I decided to embrace my natural texture. It takes a while! I’ve been using Innersense products on my hair which I have for sure seen a difference. It’s clean and organic, and doesn’t have silicones in there, which is just a band aid on the damage. I do use the Olaplex 3 as a treatment before deep conditioning, which I’ve had amazing results!

    2.13.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’ve never heard of Innersense but checking it out now, thank you!

      2.13.20 · Reply
    • Stephanie said:

      I second the vote for Innersense! I’m also a curly girl.

      2.17.20 · Reply
  2. Elizabeth said:

    Clean shampoo/conditioner that I love: Pureology, Living Proof, VERB

    2.13.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I have used Living Proof and loved it. I didn’t realize it was sulfate/paraben free. Yay!

      2.13.20 · Reply
  3. patty said:

    I like Hair Story shampoo. I then use a leave in conditioner, but I have curly hair – people with straight hair may not need a conditioner after Hair Story. Your hair is looking great and it complements your skin tone!

    2.13.20 · Reply
  4. Christina said:

    I bought the Pantene Rescue Shots after you recommended them on Instagram! I honestly wasn’t expecting that much but they are AMAZING- so much better than similar and way more expensive products I’ve tried! I don’t use a full capsule on my hair either, so the three that come in a package last for a while. I’m a total convert!

    2.13.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I KNOW right? I wasn’t expecting anything from them. I was shocked at the difference they made.

      2.13.20 · Reply
  5. annette said:

    Hi Julia!
    First off, I am so sorry about the incident with Bootsie. I had a weird experience with a guy in a park when I was walking my dog once, and it was terrifying. Hope that you both are feeling better.
    However, I have always appreciated the supplements that you speak about and am wondering if there is a fish oil that you would suggest? Thanks in advance. You and boots could use a mental health day.

    2.13.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thank you so much. It was a really brutal day but we’re all feeling better now. I use Nordic Naturals for fish oil. They are a very reputable brand and I trust their products fully.

      2.13.20 · Reply
      • annette said:

        Thanks!

        2.14.20 · Reply
  6. JJ said:

    Be careful with the revlon one step! I’ve heard a lot of girls loving it at first then realizing it’s breaking/damaging their hair. But, I’m sure that also depends on how often you use it.

    2.13.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      No way! I hadn’t heard that. Will be more careful now that I know…

      2.13.20 · Reply
  7. I am OBSESSED with my Revlon hair brush! love it~

    2.13.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Game changer for sure

      2.13.20 · Reply
      • but I do also agree with above comment.. it damages the hair of some people, esp. if you use it too often or if your hair is too wet.. I have SUPER thick hair and I let my hair air dry for a few hours and then use it..so far, so good.

        2.14.20 · Reply
  8. Tayler said:

    Just wanted to say that it’s amazing how much healthier your hair looks!! It really looks awesome and complements you very well!

    2.13.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks! It looks and feels so so so much better.

      2.13.20 · Reply
  9. Nic said:

    Is there a particular reason you don’t take biotin?

    2.13.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Not really! I just never have. I take so many other supplements (and usually take fish oil) that I just don’t want to add anything else.

      2.13.20 · Reply
  10. Nicole said:

    Hi Julia, how do you wash your silk pillowcase? Thanks!

    2.14.20 · Reply
  11. Kathy said:

    I’m going to a hair appointment with a similar goal this weekend. Is there anything specific I should mention? I have a new stylist and I’ve always done bleached highlights so I was thinking of switching to a balayage so the grow out time is easier-and I’m getting a few inches off to get my healthy ends back but I already have some of your other recommendations in my cart-is there anything you use for static? It’s killing me this winter with the dryness! Tia!

    2.14.20 · Reply
  12. Jenn said:

    I started using the Pantene Rescue Shots after seeing them on your instagram and they really do work! Its so great finding an affordable product that actually works. Great recs!

    2.14.20 · Reply
  13. Elizabeth said:

    Your hair looks amazing! I’m going through a similar situation now with my blonde hair and this post is super helpful – thank you!

    2.14.20 · Reply
  14. Michelle said:

    Thank you for sharing! I’m struggling with my hair too. I will definitely try the Pantene shots. Your new color looks amazing!

    2.15.20 · Reply