Are your tresses more like straw than silk? Have you been tempted by one too many chemical processes? Yes, it’s all too easily done. I’ve been there – my attempt over the years to turn my hair every colour of the rainbow has involved copious amounts of bleach and, at times, left it completely ravaged and in need of some intense TLC. But which products should you turn to if your hair needs reviving? You’ll be spoiled for choice with fantastical sounding hair repair products that promise to leave your hair better than ever before, but which are best and do they actually work?
Hair repair facts
I’ve looked for miracle hair repair products, believe me, and the truth of the matter is that very few products out there today can actually act to repair damaged hair. The only living part of your hair is within the hair follicle, the strands you can see are dead, so incapable of regenerating to ‘heal’ and fix damage inflicted through heat or chemical damage.
Most of the products out there that claim to repair hair tend to act more by disguising damage or coating the hair to protect it, smoothing it and helping to prevent further damage. This is all good stuff, frazzled hair benefits from excellent conditioning after all, but it pays to be aware that a lot of their ingredients aren’t much different to your standard conditioner.
So what are the best hair repair products available?
OK, so if we’re talking about repairing those all too common split ends, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a new technology out there that can really help to repair them. It’s only a temporary fix, the only permanent way of getting rid of them is to get out the scissors, but a polyelectrolyte complex (or PEC) has been shown to have amazing effects on those tatty split ends.
How does it work? Well, positively and negatively charged ions exist within the complex, and this charge means that they stick not only to each other but to the hair itself. In fact, the complex doesn’t just coat the outside of the hair as traditional conditioners do, the PEC molecules are able to attach themselves to protein and other molecules within the hair, locking onto damaged areas. When blow dried, the split ends are pulled together and fused in place until the next wash. So no, it’s not a permanent solution and you may find that a quick trim does the job quite nicely thank you very much.
It’s pretty impressive stuff though – if you want to give it a try, a few products on the market are using this technology including these below. Look out for Polyquaternium-28 and PVM/MA Copolymer on the ingredients list:
- Nexxus Pro-Mend Conditioner Split End Binding
- Joico K-Pak Reconstruct Split End Mender
- Tresemme Split Remedy Conditioner.
So how else do hair repair treatments work?
Although they’re not going to perform miracles, products that claim to repair damaged hair can often work to improve its texture and appearance.
When it comes to repairing and protecting damaged hair, moisture is key. Damaged hair is often left brittle, dry and straw-like so needs plenty of conditioning ingredients to help smooth its outer surface and replace lost moisture. Look out for humectants like panthenol and glycerine on the ingredients list – these bind to the hair and attract moisture to them, very handy for water deprived hair.
Silicones and sealants
Ingredients like silicones coat and protect the hair – instead of attracting moisture like humectants, they repel it and act as a barrier, preventing further moisture loss from within the hair. Dimethicone is one of the most commonly used silicones, though it can cause a build up on hair if it isn’t washed out thoroughly, so some people find it too heavy.
Coconut oil can also help to protect damaged hair by penetrating deep into the core of the hair and preventing excess water absorption that can leave hair weak and prone to breakage when wet.
Hair is made mostly of keratin, a certain type of protein. You’ll probably have seen plenty of hair repair products out there that contain protein of one type or another, claiming that they can patch up and heal your damaged hair. Hydrolised proteins in particular crop up on the ingredients lists of repair treatments – these are protein chains that have been chopped up into smaller molecules and it’s said that this makes them small enough to be absorbed into the core of the hair. But do these protein repair products really work?
There just isn’t much evidence out there to show that applying protein to hair can actually patch up its structure to counteract damage, though some proteins are able to coat the hair to improve its texture and appearance. I’ve tried a number of protein rich repair treatments on my chemically damaged hair, and in my own experience I found it impossible to tell how much difference they really made in comparison to other conditioners, and whether it was really the protein or other ingredients at work.
So if you, like me, have blasted or processed the life out of your hair and are desperate for a miracle hair repair product that can reform it and leave it good as new, you may be a little disappointed. But take comfort in the fact that there are plenty of good products out there containing conditioning ingredients that can go a long way to improving the appearance of dry, damaged hair, injecting moisture, improving strength and protecting it from further damage until your shiny new damage free hair grows through!
As always, what suits one person won’t always suit everybody, so there’ll probably be a fair bit of trial and error when it comes to seeking out the top hair repair product for you. Just be wary of misleading claims and remember that you don’t necessarily need to pay top dollar to get an effective conditioning treatment. A few ‘repair’ products with good customer feedback you may want to try out:
- TRESemme Vitamin B12 & Gelatin Anti-Breakage Conditioner
- Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask
- Joico K-PAK Deep Penetrating Reconstructor Treatment