9 Types of Damaged Hair and How to Treat Them

Woman brushing her hair with a wooden comb

Woman brushing her hair | iStock.com/Tinatin1

However you spin it, dealing with damaged hair is like a never-ending battle in the quest for long, gorgeous, healthy locks. It doesn’t matter how well you treat your hair; experiencing split ends, breakage, and ultra dry strands is inevitable (especially if you skip out on regular trims).

So how do you treat damaged strands without having to chop all of your hair off? For starters, take a look at the type of damage your hair is experiencing and how well you treat your hair in the first place. Do you heat style your hair on the regular? Are you a bottle blonde? Do you spend a lot of time in the sun? The bad news is that all of these factors lead to various types of hair damage.

Luckily, there’s good news, too. Finding the right treatment for specific types of damage is actually quite simple. Ahead, we share the most common types of damaged hair, plus how to treat them.

1. Split ends

Damaged Hair Treatments BRITE Organix Hair Mask Tropical Pineapple for Split Ends

BRITE Organix Hair Mask Tropical Pineapple for Split Ends | Jessie Quinn via Instagram

We can all agree: Split ends are frustrating, especially if you’re in between haircut appointments. Fear not! There’s actually something you can do about them (and no, we aren’t talking about cutting them off with kitchen scissors).

Instead of picking and pulling your separated strands apart, reach for a hair mask that focuses on split ends. We love BRITE Organix Hair Mask Tropical Pineapple for Split Ends ($12). Packed with tons of nourishing ingredients and formulated to treat pesky split ends, the deep conditioning hair mask will whip your strands back into shape in no time.

2. Over-processed hair

Damaged Hair Treatments ARROJO Hair Repair Mask

ARROJO Hair Repair Masque | ARROJO

Whether you’re a bottle blonde or can’t step away from the black hair dye, coloring your hair can wreak havoc on your strands. So, what’s a girl to do? In addition to waiting the recommended amount of time between touch-ups, you can apply a repairing hair mask, such as ARROJO Hair Repair Masque ($22), once a week. Rich in protein and formulated to repair over-processed hair, the deep conditioning mask adds luster and promotes softer, smoother, and shinier hair.

3. Damage from heat styling

Damaged Hair Treatments Verb Hydrating Mask

Verb Hydrating Mask | Verb

Many of us know how bad heat styling is for the hair, yet we still do it. Luckily, with proper care and attention, you can significantly reduce — and even prevent — damage caused by heat styling. How so? With a hair mask that replenishes necessary hydration to your strands, of course. We love Verb Hydrating Mask ($14) for its ability to nourish over-styled hair and give strands the boost of hydration it needs.

In addition to using a hydrating hair mask, you may also want to switch to a hot tool that heats your strands without sacrificing their moisture levels. Made with iRED beam technology embedded in tourmaline-infused plates, the Amika The Confidante ($150) straightener helps you achieve heat-styled hair, sans the damage. Thanks to its ION-generating Projector, the straightener delivers heat deeper into strands, then seals cuticles with each pass in order to maintain moisture throughout.

4. Mechanical damage

Damaged Hair Treatments Beauty & Pin-Ups Fearless Hair Rescue Masque

Beauty & Pin-Ups Fearless Hair Rescue Masque

If you’ve noticed your strands are tangled, have thinning edges, or mid-shaft splits, this is most-likely due to mechanical damage. Mechanical damage is directly linked to the way you handle your hair. If you’re someone who rips through tangles and rocks braids, weaves, or tight ponytails often — all of which cause tension — you might want to reconsider your hair care (or at least go easy on the combing). Fortunately, there are ways to reverse the damage. With the ability to rebuild broken bonds, revive brittle strands, and strengthen the hair, Beauty & Pin-Ups Fearless Hair Rescue Masque ($40) is a powerful hair treatment that promotes silky soft, smooth, and strong hair.

5. Damage from hard water

Damaged Hair Treatments Malibu Hard Water Wellness Hair Remedy

Malibu Hard Water Wellness Hair Remedy | Malibu

Did you know that hard water can be just as damaging to your hair as it is to your skin? It’s true! It can lead to buildup on the scalp, promote dry, straw-like strands, and more. Luckily, you can remedy its damage. In addition to installing a vitamin C shower filter — vitamin C helps neutralize hard water! — try a hair mask formulated with hard water in mind.

One of our favorites? Malibu Hard Water Wellness Hair Remedy ($3.70). Not only does this cleansing hair mask naturally remove hard water deposits, it also works to eliminate brassiness, discoloration, and damage caused by mineral absorption.

6. Sun damage

Damaged Hair Treatments Bare Republic UV Protecting Thermal Serum

Bare Republic UV Protecting Thermal Serum | Bare Republic

The sun can wreak havoc on your hair and cause discoloration, frizziness, split ends, and brittleness. And just like your skin, you should protect your hair with a UV protectant. We love Bare Republic UV Protecting Thermal Hair Serum ($12.99) for its ability to not only protect from the damaging effects of the sun, but also nourish, detangle, and condition. Formulated with aloe vera, mango butter, monoi oil, and tons of other natural ingredients, the leave-in hair serum is ideal for protecting strands against sun exposure.

7. Over-stressed hair

Damaged Hair Treatments Amika Triple RX Mask

Amika Triple RX Mask | Amika

If you’ve stressed your hair out to the point of damage, a nourishing hair mask that restores and repairs strength is just what the doctor ordered. And Amika Triple RX Mask ($38) is our favorite one for the job. Made with over-stressed hair in mind, the intensive, once a week hair mask is enriched with gamma-linolenic acid-rich borage to help make it softer, smoother, and — most importantly — stronger. That’s not all. Thanks to its nourishing properties, the mask makes it easy to comb through post-rinse, too! So, you can replenish stressed strands and protect them from mechanical damage at the same time.

8. Damage from chemical treatments

Damaged Hair Treatments Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask

Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask | Moroccanoil

If chemical treatments are a frequent occurrence in your beauty regimen, you should consider treating your strands to Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask ($75). Not only will this hair mask help prevent damage, it will help reverse it, too! The revitalizing treatment improves elasticity, reconstructs, and adds protein back into strands. The result? Hair that is softer, smoother, and healthier-looking.

9. Breakage

Damaged Hair Treatments HASK Keratin Protein Smoothing Deep Conditioner

HASK Keratin Protein Smoothing Deep Conditioner | Target

If you’re experiencing breakage in between haircuts, reach for a protein-rich conditioner treatment that can repair damage and reduce breakage. Enriched with nourishing ingredients, HASK Keratin Protein Smoothing Deep Conditioner ($1.99) can soften and smooth damaged strands, reduce static, and repair areas of breakage. The results? Shiny hair that looks — and feels — healthier than before.

Read More: Damaged Hair? Follow These Ways to Make Your Hair Healthier