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Most Common Hair Disasters & How To Fix Them

Victoria Wurdinger 
Revised Date: 7/15/06 - Original Publication Date: 4/12/2002

Easy ways to get out of the worst hair jams imaginable!

One day your hair looks great, then you decide to try something new. Perhaps it's a perm or color, maybe it's just a new way of setting your locks. Next thing you know, you're having a major bad hair day, or even a bad hair month.

But hair disasters, no matter how traumatic, aren't necessarily something you have to live with. When something goes wrong, there's always a fix, though granted it's not always a quick and easy one. The worst disaster of all, of course, is the terrible cut that you think has to be grown out.

Whatever the situation, pros agree than anyone can improve her hair, if she gets control over several factors. Once special aside here, if excessive hair loss is your problem, you'll have to explore with a dermatologist, hormonal changes, diet and medications, which can trigger hair loss.

Studies show that women who think their hair looks good feel more confident and in fact, succeed more because they behave with confidence. With this in mind, here are the best ways to fix the most common and vexing hair problems that we all experience at one time or another.

The Botched Perm

There are two times when a home perm messes up tresses. The first is when it doesn't take at all. Usually, this is from incorrect processing. Wait a few days, then go to a professional and get a hair analysis before getting a re-perm. Rod size, size of partings and the product used all play a part in getting the perfect perm.

If your perm took too well, leaving you with super curl or a head full of frizz, immediately deep condition hair with a thick cream conditioner. Comb from roots to ends, wait 5 minutes and rinse. Then set your hair on large rollers and let it dry naturally.

If this doesn't work, go to a salon that offers the reverse perm. In this technique, permanent waving solution is combed through the hair from roots to ends to straighten it. If you try it at home, wait at least two weeks after the perm and enlist the help of a friend.

Hold your head so your hair hangs straight down into the sink. (A curved bathroom sink is ideal.) If possible, you should be facing up. If you face down, be certain to protect your eyes. Repeatedly comb the perm solution through your hair, using a large-toothed comb, until hair relaxes. Then neutralize and rinse completely.

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Hair Color Horrors

Choosing and using hair color can be tricky. The color on the box does not tell you what result you will get over your natural shade and there's lots that can go wrong if you're bleaching your hair. If you over-bleached, don't do a thing without professional help or you risk severe breakage. If the color is simply wrong, there are color-removing products available from your local beauty supply store. They contain bleach and are the only way to remove permanent or semi-permanent color (Do NOT use them on relaxed hair.)

You can also saturate hair with mineral oil if henna is the problem. First saturate a cotton ball with 70 percent alcohol, apply it to the hair, along the shaft (avoid the scalp) and wait 5 minutes. Then apply mineral oil liberally and saturate each strand again. Cover your head with a plastic cap and apply heat for 30 minutes. (Use a blow dryer or a cap that attaches to your dryer's nozzle.) Then shampoo with a shampoo for oily hair two or three times and rinse.

Undesirable shades, like green, are best left to a pro, who knows how to either remove them or neutralize them with the color opposite on the color wheel. However, if the green is from chlorine, there are now chlorine removing shampoos on the shelf that work just fine.

The Haircut That Scalps You

If you have a true disaster on your hands, don't reject a wig off-hand. Many companies have beautiful synthetic and human hair wigs that can perfectly match your previous cut and color. If you have some hair left, consider softening the effect you hate with layers, wispy sideburns or long bangs.

Choose a hair stylist carefully and get ideas before you go ahead, because if you're scalped twice, a wig may be your only hope. Or, you may have enough hair left for hair extensions or additions. You'd be surprised at new salon weaving techniques, which are used for women who have sparse and thinning hair.

Finally, there is a way to avoid the too-short cut. Show your stylist exactly where you want your hair to fall and watch in the mirror. If you see him or her cutting it shorter or feel the scissors are positioned high in back, stop the process immediately and insist on what you want. Never be afraid to walk out if you aren't getting it.

Uneven Layering

Layering that's uneven or not what you wanted leaves you with a few options. You can wait for short layers to grow out. You can also have longer layers cut to match shorter ones. A shorter cut might also fix the problem, but if you aren't willing to get one, ask another stylist to show you setting and styling techniques that work with what you have until it grows out.

Too Obvious Highlights

If your hair ends up looking more like a skunk's tail than sun-kissed locks, have a color wash or toner put over highlights. At Salon Red in Atlanta, Carla Attenborough specializes in fixing overly blonde highlights that she says come from repeatedly highlighting without using a toner. Choose a shade that's close to your own and highlights will be less obvious. You can also see if the highlights can be softened by "re-shaping" them. Have a colorist change chunks into smaller pieces by turning half the chunk into lowlights.

Blow Drying Damage

If thermal styling is killing your locks, switch to thermal protective products that coat and protect your cuticle. Also, towel dry hair completely before reaching for your blow dryer. Damp hair holds a style just fine according to Celebrity Hairdresser Robert Hallowell.   Robert recommends removing moisture first, then switching to a cool setting to lock in shape and curl.

Also, get regular trims to get rid of split ends and dry hair from the inside out; don't start with the surface and risk leaving hair underneath half damp. Brigg's other tips for combating dry, damaged hair are easy to do at home.

For a little kitchen magic, mix 1 cup of olive oil, a whole egg and 1/3 cup of honey. Pour through your hair, comb through and wait for at least 3 hours before rinsing completely. (This does take a lot of rinsing.) A vinegar rinse restores shine if you don't wash it out; the smell is only momentary and will go away soon.

In the future, hold your dryer at least six inches from your head and move it continuously when drying. Keep curling and straightening irons from getting too hot for hair by spritzing them with water in intervals as you style your hair.

The Terrible Style, with No Time Out

You've spent the last hour trying out a new styling technique, only to end up with a disaster 10 minutes before your date arrives. To get out of the jam, try these quick solutions: Tip your head upside down, mist with a finishing spray and brush repeatedly from roots to ends. This removes too much curl but adds body. Then flip your head up, finger style and slip on a wide headband. Lucky for you, headband looks are back!

If hair is limp and lifeless after a set, you brushed out all the curl you created. Usually this happens if you don't let the rollers cool completely before removing them. Take a single, giant hot roller and use it to turn all your ends under. If your hair is super thick, it may take two rollers. Blow dry the hot roller with air flow on a cool setting to speed the process, carefully unwind and wrap ends around your fingers. You'll have a smooth style with ends that turn under. A fast fix for short hair gone astray? Gel it straight back. If you have the time and the goods, clip on a faux piece for an instant ponytail or chignon.  

About Victoria Wurdinger

Victoria Wurdinger is an award-winning writer and researcher who specializes in business and beauty. She has written for dozens of magazines, including Longevity, Drug Store News, Beauty Digest, Drug & Cosmetic Industry, Modern Salon, Art Business News, British Hairdressers Journal, Celebrity Hairstyles, Color & Style, Beauty Store Business, Studio and Day Spa. Victoria has also authored several books, including "Competition Hairdesign," "Home Haircutting Made Easy," "The Photo Session Handbook" and "Multicultural Clients." She has won several American Society of Business Press Editors awards, not only for her writing but for her design and layout concepts.

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