My Favorite Products for Dry or Damaged Hair


I've been a blonde for 12 years so I'm constantly working on perfecting a healthy hair routine and these are my holy grail products to strengthen and moisturize my hair. I have 3c hair texture that is bleached and super dry. I experimented with airdrying my hair for a few months wondering if the lack of heat styling would make it healthier but that just made it extremely dry and brittle. My hairdresser told me on Sunday that I have healthy hair and I thought that was the biggest compliment ever! These are the products of someone who regularly blow-dries her hair every week (I wash and blow-dry once a week.) When my hair is blow out you can see how shiny it is.

This year I’m switching up my color to try the new hair trend of Lived-in-Blonde which is a subtle look where similar shades to your natural color are weaved into your hair, so your hair looks grown out but polished. The finished look is multi-dimensional with multiple tones that are beautifully blended. It’s a great low maintenance way to have healthy looking blonde hair. These are products I have been obsessed with for a while and my hair looks amazing afterwards, soft and smooth and sealed.

I know a lot of these products are pricey, but Sephora has quarterly sales, just keep the products you want in your cart and in a few months a sale will pop up. Last September Sephora had an Oh Hair Yeah! Sale with everything 15% off and daily deals that were 50% off. In fact I've noticed they are copying Ulta's sale model of daily 50% off deals of select products they announce in advance. 

Having the right products is super important but if you don't know how to use them, you won't get the best results. I will occasionally re-read the instructions on products I use to ensure I'm using them properly. I know there are a lot of products on this list, but they have all been thoroughly researched by me, recommended by experts, tested by me for the last year. The top three innovative products from this list are: K18, Living Proof Triple Bond Complex Leave-in Hair Treatment, and  Pureology Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Conditioner. These three cult hair products are seriously good!  You won't see your hair's true potential unless you treat it right. 


Pre-wash Treatment

Pre-shampoo treatment helps to minimize breakage when I’m detangling my hair, helps to add some much needed additional softness and shine to my hair and helps to protect my fragile ends.

Creme of Nature Plex Breakage Defense Bond Mender Pre-Treatment is formulated with strength-building ingredients proven to help strengthen and protect hair on the inside and out.  It's a cheaper alternative to Olaplex #3.

African Pride Moisture Miracle Aloe & Coconut Water Detangle & Condition Pre-Shampoo This product is very slippery as it's made with Aloe Vera to nourish, condition, and protect against breakage and Coconut Water to help strengthen hair and restore moisture. This was so key during my air-dry hair experiment! 

OGX Coconut Miracle Penetrating Oil  It is made of silicones and coconut oil so the silicone adds slip to assist with detangling the hair before shampooing. This leaves my hair silky and full of shine plus it’s affordable. 

Shampoo

I used to not want to spend money on shampoo, buying the cheapest one because I figured it's just washed out fast but every hairdresser, I see talking about shampoo says drugstore shampoos are not good because they leave a film on your hair that prevents your other products from penetrating it. They claim to be able to tell by looking at your hair if you use drugstore shampoos. Also using low ph balanced hair care products is incredibly important for healthy hair care.  

Always rub shampoo between your hands to get a good emulsify to evenly distribute though your hair which is essential for a proper cleanse. Stop shampooing your ends, shampoo is meant to clean the scalp, shampoo will naturally travel to your ends to remove buildup. Conditioner is for our ends. I shampoo twice since I only wash my hair once a week. Each of these shampoos serve different benefits and will do different things for your hair. I start with the Ouai then pick one of the others for my second shampoo.

A pH-balanced shampoo ensures that hair cuticles stay closed, preventing moisture loss, taming frizz and reducing static. It also prevents the scalp from producing too much oil after you shampoo. For colour-treated hair, using shampoo with a pH above 5.5 will open the cuticle and cause your colour to fade much faster

Ouai Detox Shampoo A clarifying shampoo that deeply cleanses away dirt, oil, and product buildup with apple cider vinegar while keratin helps strengthen hair. The apple cider vinegar lowers the ph level and helps to get rid of product buildup and add nice shine to the hair. It also has hydrolyzed keratin that helps to soften and smooth the hair of frizz.

Amika The Kure Bond Repair Shampoo A bond-repair shampoo clinically shown to repair and strengthen strands damaged by heat and chemical treatments. This is a protein shampoo with a low ph level that is quite creamy which is great for dry hair. 

Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo A hydrating shampoo infused with argan oil and replenishing nutrients to quench and nurture dry hair. It's thick and really good for dry and colored hair.  While I really like this and find it luxurious to use, I've discovered that they have an even richer formula so when I finish this bottle I will try the  Moisture Repair Shampoo

Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Shampoo A shampoo made with citric acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, which helps reinforce weakened bonds. The shampoo has good lather which is needed when you only wash once a week like me. Good for low-porosity hair and hair that has protein buildup as it’s completely protein free. 

Conditioner

I rotate between the two and will put it on under a shower cap and ride my peloton as the heat from my head creates for a natural deep conditioning as if I was under a dryer. When applying conditioner to your hair, fully saturate the ends with it first.

Amika The Kure Intense Bond Repair Hair Mask A reparative, ultra-moisturizing hair mask that will hydrate, repair, strengthen, and improve manageability. This mask is amazing and has tons of nice nourishing ingredients like mango seed butter,  sea buckthorn oil, shea butter, borage seed oil, plus has a nice buttery texture. Very dense and rich and creamy, great for deeply conditioning damaged hair that feels super dry. 

Fekkai Shea Butter Intense Mask A creamy, intensely moisturizing mask, thicker than the Amika. Shea Butter is a hydrating powerhouse, rich in nutrients and essential fatty acids that smoothe and reduce frizz and replenish all thick hair types. It also has manoi oil, glycerin and coconut oil.

Bond Repair

Here are the latest bond repair products to hit the market. These protein masks are alternatives to Olaplex that repair hair from bleach damage. If you buy the mini size of these products, its embarrassingly small. 

K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask A patented peptide technology works to repair damage from bleach, color, chemical services, and heat, restoring strength, softness, smoothness, and bounce to hair. You can not use conditioner with it. You apply this after shampoo to lightly toweled dry hair and don't rinse it out.  Let sit for four minutes to activate, then style as usual. I’ve seen positive results from usage as my hair continues to be healthier and stronger. I do find it inconvenient to use as you can't use a conditioner with it since they recommend avoiding conditioner with it. When you first start using it ,you’re supposed to use it for 6 consequent washes but when you’re in maintenance mode you’re supposed to use it every 3-4 weeks. The living proof can be used with the K18. $75 for 1.7 oz

Living Proof Triple Bond Complex Leave-in Hair Treatment A weekly leave-in, repair treatment clinically proven to rebuild the structure of hair. This patent-pending technology makes hair 8x stronger, smoother and shinier after one use. The patent is still pending on the technology on this product so they don’t disclose how the bond builder is working. To use you shampoo and condition as usual, squeeze out the excess water, start with 2-5 pumps and leave in. Start from the ends up so its focused on the areas of your hair that need it most. For best results wait 10 minutes before applying any other products to allow this product to penetrate the hair’s cortex. As I’ve continued to use this, I have noticed a significant improvement in my hair.  Leave this 450 heat protectant on for 10 minutes before add heat for best results. I can’t say if this is better than K18 but it’s more affordable. $45 for 1.5 oz

Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Leave-In Conditioner for Damaged Hair Concentrated bonding care complex reinforces weakened bonds within your hair to improve hair strength and resiliency. Provides ultimate strength repair in damaged hair strands, intense conditioning, color fade protection, provides heat protection up to 450 degrees, tames frizz, and adds shine.

Heat Protectant 

Protecting your hair from the damage of the heat from a blow-dryer or flat iron are an absolute. You only need  a pea size amount of product, rub it together  in your hands so you don't get one big clump going on your hair, this way you get evenly spread coverage. Start at your ends and work your way up. Then use a wet brush to spread the product throughout your hair. A lot of products say they have heat protectant, but when a product does many things, it can't be the best at heat protectant. Hence your heat protectant should specifically say it protects up to 450 degrees if you’re using a flat iron. 

Kerastase Keratine Thermique   Discipline Heat Protecting Leave-In Treatment For Frizzy Hair.  A smoothing leave-in treatment cream that reduces frizz and manages flyaways with protection against heat damage from styling tools.

Tresemme Thermal Creations Keratin Smooth Leave-In Heat Protectant Spray helps shield hair from heat up to 450 degrees so you can achieve a smooth look while protecting your hair from heat styling. Specifically formulated for flat irons. 

Redken Frizz Dismiss Rebel Tame Heat Protectant Leave In-Cream protects from heat up to 450 degrees. Specifically formulated for flat irons. 

Styling 

Pureology Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Conditioner  A multitasking, leave-in treatment that primes hair for heat, detangles, protects from damage, and adds shine from root to tip. I don't use this for heat protectant but mainly for detangling after washing and to seal in moisture from your conditioner. If you buy one product from this list, you should buy this product. It has so many incredible ingredients such as olive oil and camelina oil, but the second ingredient is coconut oil which helps to add shine and softness and help to prevent protein loss. If you have hair that is really dry and tangled, this is a dream as it locks in moisture. This should only be used on wet hair and spray a lot, like 15 times, mostly on the ends of my hair and mid-section. Super important to apply this product in sections that will ensure that hair is evenly coated as possible so I’m able to detangle without breakage. 

Oribe Supershine Moisturing Cream A high-gloss, leave-in conditioner designed for medium to thick hair that moisturizes and tames frizz. Apply a small dollop to wet hair then blow-dry or airdry. 

Sunday II Sunday Root Refresher  This gentle rinse removes product buildup, odor, and excess oils without stripping your hair. Made with micellar water which attaches to dirt and sweat like a magnet, cleaning them from the scalp. And apple cider vinegar which lowers scalp pH, minimizing bacterial growth. Black people typically don't use dry shampoo, but this alternate product is great for us to spray on our roots after a sweaty workout. 

Leave in Conditioner 

Every night right before I go to bed, I do a method called "moisturizing and sealing" my hair. That means I put a leave in conditioner on my ends and a hair oil on top of it to seal the moisture in. I’m reconditioning my hair all week long in order to keep my hair moisturized. 

K√©rastase Nutritive 8H Magic Night Serum Hydrating Treatment A lightweight serum that hydrates hair while you sleep to strengthen, detangle, and enhance shine. Iris Root Extract: nourishes for up to eight hours+ and replenishes lost nutrients. Five-Vitamin Blend: seals in nutrients and leaves hair with a satin finish. Before going to sleep, apply two pumps then massage into lengths and ends of dry or damp hair. 

AG Care Plant-Based Essentials Coco Nut Milk Conditioning Spray Detangles, strengthens and hydrates hair, helping it feel soft and manageable infused with coconut oil, grapeseed oil macadamia extract and mango seed butter. Ideal for medium to thick hair types or those prone to knots. This is the only option that is entirely protein and silicone free. 

Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Heat Protectant Leave-In Conditioner A lightweight leave-in conditioner with heat protection that detangles, repairs damage, treats dryness, and controls frizz.


Hair Oil

Hair oil is great to use to hydrate your hair ends after washing or to make your hair shine when dry. The Olaplex oil I use in conjunction with hair washing and I use the others on dry hair.  You can use just a little bit and run it over your ends to protect your ends from split ends to seal them. Adding oil to styled hair gives it that perfect final touch  to polish up your ends makes it look a little bit glossier.

Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Hair Oil An ultra-lightweight, styling oil that increases shine, softness,  color vibrancy, while minimizing flyaways and heat protection up to 450°F. To use, turn bottle upside down and gently tap index finger on the bottom of bottle to dispense a metered drop. $30 for 1oz

One n Only Argan Oil  This costs $14 while the Moroccan Oil Hair Oil is $48 for the same size, same ingredient.

Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil If you like a more high end oil, this is a mixture of argan and jasmine oils which add lightweight shine, reduce frizz, and protect strands from UV rays and environmental pollutants. It also has Sandalwood Extract, Amur Cork Tree Bark Extract, and Barley Extract: a proprietary blend optimized to stimulate the hair cuticle, boost moisture, repair split ends, and improve the overall look of hair. $39 for 1.7oz

K√©rastase Elixir Ultime Hydrating Hair Oil Serum A blend of four  oils with a lightweight finish to boost hair’s hydration, strength, and shine while reducing frizz. Includes marula oil which adds softness, suppleness, and moisture. And camellia oil which absorbs quickly, leaving hair hydrated and shiny. The argan oil increases elasticity, hydration, softness, and shine. $24 for 1.7oz

Sebastian Dark Oil Silkening Fragrant Hair Mist A finishing spray to touch up styled hair with a nice shine and fragrance. Leaves the hair silky, shiny and smooth. The smell is incredible! It's not a cheap floral perfume, but a deep, complex sexy one. $21 for 6.7oz

Tools

Scalp Massager I use this every time I shampoo.

Wet Hair Detangling Brush I use this to detangle my wet hair and to spread out my heat protectant. 

Microfiber towel  helps to prevent breakage as its a better material than a regular cotton towels and will absorb extra water. This model has a button-loop closure to easily hold the hair. Made from recycled water bottles. 

Satin pillowcase to help prevent breakage 

Wishlist

The inventor of Olaplex created a new brand called Epres and said it’s supposed to be better so it's been on my radar to try. The directions make it look a lot easier to use than Olaplex. They just got it patented so it is new technology. I also keep putting off buying a hard water shower filter. City water has chemicals and minerals that can cause hair color fade and go brassy. I also want to try a boar bristle brush. 


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