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Last updated: February 21, 2022

How To Fix Hair Damage: 3 Ways To Avoid Disaster

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Instagram via @manely.summer

How To Spot 3 Types of Hair Damage and How To Treat Each

It only takes one wrong move (or a misleading consultation) for a client’s hair to become damaged in your chair. To help you prevent and repair damage, we’re breaking down the science behind it, tips for identifying it in the salon and the preventative steps to take for avoiding disaster.


Keep scrolling for three types of hair damage: what it looks like, how it happens and what you (and your clients) can do to repair and maintain healthy strands. 


Repair damage in just FOUR minutes: Click here!


Understanding where damage happens

The only way to prevent and fix damage is to understand why it happens in the first place. Or better yet—where it happens. 


Most major damage occurs at the cortex or the innermost layer of the hair. Some products address surface-level concerns on the cuticle. Some work to reconnect broken disulfide bonds—but there’s another type of breakage responsible for your client’s hair health. 


Hair’s core strength and elasticity comes from the keratin chains at hair’s innermost layer. When these keratin chains are weakened, the hair loses its ability to withstand chemical services—resulting in breakage. These chains and bonds need to be reconnected to truly renew hair and combat damage.


Related: How to Permanently Heal Damaged Hair


Identifying Hair Damage: What it looks like and how to prevent it 

Now that we know where damage can happen, let’s breakdown how it happens and what you can do to prevent it:


#1 Color damage: How to spot & fix it

What it looks like: Breakage, overprocessed (stretchy) hair, lackluster results

We know you do everything you can to prevent damage during a color service. But if the client’s hair is already compromised, damage can happen. Here’s why:


  • Lightener can weaken bonds: Bleach contains peroxides—also known as oxidizing agents—that can stress the hair’s disulfide bonds and keratin chains (aka what’s responsible for hair’s holistic health.)

  • Hair color can alter the hair’s pH level: Hair color often contains ammonia, which raises the hair’s pH level and can cause the cuticle to swell. Swelling weakens the cuticle of the hair, which can cause permanent damage over time. 


San Diego-based colorist Summer Labayen used the K18 Hair Treatment for three months to repair her client’s damaged strands. The first photo is before starting the treatment, the second photo is her three month progress and the last photo is after an in-salon treatment and color appointment. Look at that healthy transformation! // Instagram via @manely.summer


Solution: Strengthen the hair before a color application to prevent damage.

Prep hair with the Professional Molecular Repair Mist from K18 Hair. Why? The mist is formulated with K18Peptide™ which travels to the inner cortex of the hair and helps reconnect broken keratin chains. This strengthens and renews damaged hair in four minutes for the healthiest canvas possible to undergo the color service.


Pro Tip: Ensure long-lasting results by applying the K18 Hair Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask before toning to avoid fast-fading color.


Balayage without breakage? Watch @adina_pignatare’s pro tips in this quickie tutorial!

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A post shared by ADINA | BALAYAGE + HAIR VIDEOS (@adina_pignatare)


Related: Extreme Color Correction: Damage Blonde to Gray


 #2 Chemical damage: How to spot & fix it

What it looks like: Brittle strands, breakage, frizzy results

Services like perms and relaxers rely on chemicals to alter the hair strand’s natural shape. This can leave the hair in a vulnerable state and more susceptible to damage. Here’s a deeper look: 


  • Perms: Ingredients like Ammonium Thioglycolate break down and reshape disulfide bonds (aka the steps) from straight to wavy or curly. The reformed bonds can put stress on the hair to hold the new, desired shape. 


  • Relaxers: This service loosens the natural curl pattern by disrupting and reconfiguring disulfide bonds to a smoother, straighter shape. Hydrogen Peroxide is applied to help the hair maintain the new look, but can also leave the hair weak and cause strands to lose elasticity. 


After continuous straightening services, Ethan King’s client was struggling to transition back to her natural curls. So, he used the K18 Hair Treatment (and a fresh chop) to revive her natural curl pattern and help repair damage. // Instagram via @slickback_buttahtoast


Solution: Use a product that not only protects the hair but helps maintain long-lasting results.

Spoke + Weal founder Christine Thompson (@chistinethompsonhair) preps her chemical services with the Professional Molecular Hair Mist. Why? “The Molecular Hair Mist protects the hair during the chemical service but also helps to lock in that curl pattern and give the end results a nice bounce. Plus, it maintains the integrity of the hair,” she explains. 


Pro Tip: For a perm, avoid weighing down fresh curls with the Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask. Instead, prep for styling by reapplying the Professional Molecular Hair Mist after rinsing the neutralizer from the hair. Then, send clients home with the Leave-In Molecular Repair Mask to maintain frizz-free curls after the first wash. 


Watch the video below for FAST perm dos + don’ts! 

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A post shared by K18 Hair (@k18hair)


#3 Heat damage: How to spot & fix it

What it looks like: Dull color, breakage, dry, frizzy ends 

Hair pros know: heat damage almost always happens at home. But educating clients on how to style their hair safely and giving them the products they need to avoid further damage happens in the salon. Here’s an easy checklist for explaining heat damage to clients:


  • Excessive heat damage can leave hair dry and frizzy. Over time, heat can damage the keratin chains within the cortex. This will cause hair to lose shine and color to appear lackluster. 


  • Heat styling wet hair can cause the cuticle to deteriorate and cause serious breakage. Known as “bubble hair,” water molecules can become trapped between keratin chains, causing bubbles to form in the hair shaft which results in damage.


Known for his OMG transformations, colorist Jack Martin relies on K18 Hair to maintain the integrity of the hair at every step. To repair his client’s damaged strands, he applied to K18 Hair Mask to enhance shine and body. // Instagram @jackmartincolorist


Solution: Show clients how to properly prep the hair for heat styling and send them home with a product that will prevent future damage.

Don’t let your client get overwhelmed when choosing the right product. Instead, suggest a product that repairs all hair types and is easy to use. The  K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask not only repairs existing damage in only four minutes, but also helps keep hair strong enough to withstand future services. 


Hit play to watch @glenn_hairartist87’s maintain his client’s healthy strands while heat styling!

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A post shared by Glenn Nelson (@glenn_hairartist87)


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