ends of hair scissors
Image: Shutterstock/Oleg Malyshev

When To Cut Highly Processed Hair

It’s been a while since your last cut, and maybe you’ve been dying it, perming it or generally neglecting it since then. Your hair may be frizzed, faded, have split ends or simply look like it’s been dragged through a wood chipper. But if you like to keep your hair long or if you are trying to grow it out, you may be hesitant to cut it off. So that begs the question: do you need to cut it off or is it salvageable? And what constitutes as unsalvageable hair, anyway?

The Definition Of “Damaged”

First, assess how damaged your hair really is. Signs of damaged hair include:

  • Dry or brittle
  • A lack of elasticity
  • Rough to the touch
  • Dullness
  • Flyaway strands
  • Easily breakable strands
  • Hair tangles easily
  • Color could fade too rapidly or absorb too rapidly

Damage can be caused by several issues with the hair. The outer layer of the hair, the cuticle, can become eroded, the hair shaft can split up the middle or fibers within the hair can disintegrate.

The hair becomes damaged in a myriad of ways—sun exposure, physical abrasion like brushing, blowing drying or styling can contribute. Heat styling, chemical perms and dying can all damage hair. Harsh clarifying shampoos used daily can also affect hair negatively.

To Cut Or Not To Cut?

The deal with hair is that once it’s damaged, it’s damaged. The only way to completely get rid of damaged hair is to cut it. This is where you need to assess your devotion to your hair, and assess just how unruly it has become. Split ends that travel far up the hair shaft are usually a sign that a haircut is in order. Or maybe the bottom half of your hair just isn’t holding color like the top half anymore.

A good rule of thumb is that if it’s too much of a pain, cut it. Hair grows about a half-an-inch per month, so if you don’t mind the year or more waiting period for it to grow out again, go for it.

On the other hand, if your hair is just a bit rougher than you’d like it to be or you have some other minor issue, there are ways to treat the hair so it’s more manageable.

How To Manage Damaged Hair

There are a host of products on the market for damaged hair. You’re going to want to look into higher quality hair products that are meant to reduce or repair damage. Products like Tresemmé Split Remedy Split End Sealing Serum, Pantene Pro-V 2-Minute Moisture Hair Masque Deep Conditioner or Kérastase Chroma Sensitive Cleansing Balm all help take care of pesky damaged hair.

Don’t forget to focus on these hair damage prevention tips, as well:

  • Try not to heat-dry or heat-style hair
  • Use gentle hair products without detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Get a trim to prevent extreme split ends every four months or so
  • Regularly deep condition
  • Brush hair softly when it is wet

After all, prevention is the best way to keep those gorgeous locks.