10 Ways to Repair, Treat & Fix Damaged Hair


From highlights, to balayage, to keratin straighteners, to curling ironed waves, to flat ironed strands, to messy buns, to French braids—your most versatile accessory is your hair. But what happens when you’ve gone too far? Over-styling, over-lightening or just plain overdoing can leave your hair damaged, brittle and broken. The good news? You can prevent your damaged hair from getting worse and repair what’s already damaged with this solid advice from the Matrix pros. Looking for your targeted damaged hair treatment? Read on.

1. Lower the Temperature on Your Tools

Your curling iron, flat iron and blow dryer are the magic tools that transform your ordinary or unruly hair into stunning waves and curls or voluminous blow-outs. But with all that heat comes heat damage—and dryness, brittleness and flyaways.

According to Matrix pros, one of the biggest mistakes people make is setting the temperature too high when styling hair with heat. Unless you have super thick or coarse hair, you’ll get the job done with a mid-range temperature-setting on your tools.

Repair damaged hair by skipping the heat styling altogether when possible. Check out air-dry formulas like Matrix Mega Sleek Blow Down Leave-In Cream that help form and hold your hair without heat. When you do hit the heat, always use a heat protection product like Mega Sleek Iron Smoother to shield your hair from thermal damage.

2. Handle Wet Hair with Care

Let’s talk hair breakage repair. Hair of all textures is at its most vulnerable when it’s wet—and the potential for damage increases if your wet hair is fine, curly or fragile. Handle with care: Never try to pull a brush through your wet hair unless it’s a brush specifically designed for the task.

Most pros recommend using a wide-tooth comb to detangle. When you step out of the shower, skip vigorously rubbing your hair dry with a towel. Instead, gently blot your hair with a fluffy towel, or better still, with a microfiber cloth or soft t-shirt. This avoids friction that can put stress on vulnerable hair. Don’t secure your hair with an elastic band when it’s wet either—that can cause breakage. This is especially true when it comes to how to fix damaged curly hair and how to repair damaged curly hair.  

3. Indulge in Rich Hair Masks

Hair masks are the special ops of conditioning. They contain high concentrations of reparative and moisturizing ingredients, like vitamins and oils that are excellent for dry, damaged hair. They’re also thicker than regular conditioners, so when you apply them to damp hair, they stay put. That gives these formulas time to penetrate more deeply into the hair surface and fill in the gaps that develop on the surface of damaged hair. In other words, masks keep working even after you rinse them out.

To find a mask that’s right for your hair type, Matrix pros recommend Food for Soft Rich Hydrating Treatment Mask if your hair is dry, and they list Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Treatment Mask as an MVP for most hair types, including color-treated hair. Use your hair treatment mask twice a week or more. And don’t be in a hurry—the longer you leave it on the more effective it will be.

4. Embrace Leave-Ins

When it comes to the best treatment for damaged hair, leave-in hair treatments and conditioners are like bodyguards for your hair. They protect from shampoo to shampoo because you don’t rinse them out. Like most hair products, leave-ins can be matched to your hair type.

A leave-in like Keep Me Vivid Leave-In Velvetizer, for example, provides  UV hair protection to prevent color from fading. A leave-in like A Curl Can Dream Moisturizing Cream for frizzy, unruly hair adds moisture and smooths hair, making it more manageable. Plagued by damaged, porous hair and split ends? The liquid protein and B5 in Instacure Anti-Breakage Porosity Spray helps. Apply your leave-ins to damp, not soaking wet, hair, and comb through with a wide-tooth comb for even distribution.

5. Get Professional Treatments

Sometimes a DIY regimen or home remedies for damaged hair simply aren’t enough for extremely ragged strands. That’s when you might need to bring in the professionals—this is the best treatment for damaged hair. In-salon hair treatments contain the highest possible concentration of active ingredients. They target any type of hair damage—from strands that are over-processed or weak, to hair that needs a mega-infusion of moisture. Your stylist will typically apply a hair damage treatment right at the shampoo bowl, and because these formulas are so concentrated, you’ll see and feel a transformation immediately.

6. Let’s Bond

Damage that occurs when you color or lighten your hair has to do with the process of chemical services. For hair color or lighteners to work properly, they must loosen the structural bonds of your hair. Once hair bonds become compromised, your hair is more susceptible to breakage, dryness and damage.

By using hair color products like Matrix Light Master Pre-Bonded, your colorist can prevent bond destruction. These formulas also take preventive measures to inhibit future damage. Clients who receive frequent and significant hair color transformations hail these bonder-inside formulas game changers.

7. Trim Your Split Ends

Have you ever snagged a piece of fine fabric, only to watch as the tiny snag gradually unravels a huge portion of the garment? That’s what can happen when the ends of your hair become split. The hair will begin unraveling from the bottom up, leading to a dull, broken, frizzy mess.

To prevent split ends in the first place, keep your hair supple and strong with fortifying shampoos, conditioners and leave-in creams like the Instacure Anti-Breakage line-up of shampoo, conditioner and porosity spray. To keep split ends from getting out of control, visit your hairstylist for regular trims. You don’t have to lose much length at all—your stylist can simply “dust” the ends to keep your hair healthy, strong and un-frayed.

8. Swim and Sun with Care

Regular laps are great for your body, but not so great for your hair. Salt water, chlorine and other pool chemicals can cause hair to become brittle and fragile—not to mention the toll they take on your hair color! Always wear a swim cap when swimming to protect your hair. If you’re heading to the beach, protect your hair from sun exposure, which can be drying and cause your hair color to fade. Wear a hat.

You can also go the extra mile by applying a hair mask like Matrix A Curl Can Dream Rich Mask before heading out—it’ll treat and protect your hair while you’re outside. After swimming or sunning, cleanse and condition your hair immediately with gentle, moisturizing formulas like Food For Soft Shampoo  and Conditioner.

9. Don’t Let Your Hair Get Thirsty

Dry skin appears cracked and dull; that’s why you should never skip your moisturizer. Dry hair is the number one cause of damage and hair breakage, because if your hair doesn’t have the optimal level of moisture, it will become brittle and fragile, just like your skin. If you’re prone to dry hair, embrace a moisturizing regimen like Food For Soft that includes a hydrating shampoo, conditioner, deep treatment and leave-in hair oil serum. It’s the easiest way to prevent your strands from becoming parched.

10. Shampoo Wisely and Well

Try to avoid too-frequent shampooing. If your hair and scalp need refreshing, try a dry shampoo like Miracle Extender Dry Shampoo on day two or three of your blow-out. Finally, wash your hair with lukewarm water, and finish the shampoo process with a shot of cool water. Cool or cold water can help damaged hair by closing the hair cuticle and causing the hair shaft to lie flat, resulting in shinier, smoother hair.