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Fried Hair Truths


Model with Curly Tresses

Haap Media Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Men and women have been battling fried and damaged hair for hundreds of years. Even as far back as Victorian times, women have been going to great, often painful lengths, to alter the natural texture of their tresses.

Curling stick straight hair was a popular method which was regularly undertaken regardless of the fact that utilization of super hot curling tongs would often result in burnt fingertips and frizzy, fried strands.

It seems hard to believe that even in current times damaged and destroyed cuticles remains a constant, if not increasing problem.

Why does this trend perpetuate and what can you do to prevent the problem with your own precious locks?

This article covers the causes, prevention and ultimate tips for recovering from fried hair experiences.

Causes Of Fried Hair

Science has proven that hair is primarily protein. Follicle experts agree that over 85 percent of hair's structure is composed of protein.

Any type of persistent hair treatments involving harsh chemicals, cleansing and/or styling products and hot styling tools can significantly alter the cortex of the hair.

Model with Processed Tresses

DC Media All Rights Reserved

The resulting protein loss creates varying degrees of damage ranging from slightly dry and damaged to totally fried.

  • One of the primary culprits in protein loss is chemical services applied to the hair.
  • Chemical services include, but are not limited to, perming solutions, chemical straightening, thermal reconditioning (TR), hair relaxing and hair highlighting or coloring processes.
  • Some types of chemical treatments are much more harsh than others.
  • Chemical hair straightening or thermal reconditioning is almost always more damaging than hair relaxing.
  • Hair coloring created with bleach is more damaging than color processing created using a temporary color or semi-perm option.
  • The risk of chemically induced fried hair is much higher when any type of chemicals are applied to already damaged or fragile strands.
  • Overlapping chemical treatments will increase fried hair syndrome. Overlapping occurs during chemical or hair coloring application when new product is accidentally or on purpose applied on top of pre-existing color, perm or straighteners. Overlapping may cause the previously treated hair to over-process becoming very dry, brittle and damaged.
  • When chemical treatments are cocktailed such as applying color in addition to perms or straighteners, the risk for severely damaged hair is heightened.
  • Protein damage almost never occurs without moisture loss.
  • Hair lacking in proper protein will generally break more easily.

For more information refer to: Brightening Up Dull Drab Hair

Heat Sizzles And Burns Hair

Model with Processed Tresses

DC Media All Rights Reserved

Hair can become severely damaged and/or literally fried from a number of bad hair care habits either performed alone or combined including:

1. Washing hair in super hot water robs tresses of natural oils making hair more prone to damage. 2. Daily blow drying on highest heats, at fastest speeds will punish the most delicate strands. 3. Frequent or daily use of any type of hot irons. 4. Damage is worse when hair is rolled around hot irons and held in place for longer than 8 seconds. Most pros recommend only holding hot irons in place for 3-4 seconds at one time to avoid any type of heat damage. 5. Using plastic combs or brushes which snag, rip and tear hair leaving little holes in the cuticle. 6. Brushes or combs with hard plastic knobs on the ends are more likely to snag, pull and rip delicate strands making damage worse.

Hair referred to as "squeaky clean" is actually more prone to becoming damaged. This is because when hair is so clean it squeaks it means all of the natural hair oils have been removed.

This indicates the hair cuticle is raised and thus hair is more open to damage. In reality, squeaky clean is not a good thing and should be avoided through the use of rinse out conditioners and a final cool/cold rinse.

Recovery FAQ's

Model with Healthy Tresses

Tom Carson All Rights Reserved

Hair can become severely damaged or fried from a number of bad hair care habits either performed alone or combined including:

  1. Natural or virgin hair color may fade as much as one to two shades when damaged. It may often appear even lighter in spots.
  2. Artificial color may fade more than two shades when hair is fried.
  3. Hair can only recover through a network of complex reinforcement formulas which build strength & flexibility to give hair substance & resilience.
  4. Fried hair requires an intensive at-home care treatment program.
  5. Strands which have been damaged or "fried" can not be recovered and repaired instantly. There is no miracle cure.
  6. If hair breakage occurs it will depend on the overall condition of the hair. Breakage occurs at the weakest point.
  7. Seek the advice of a hair care professional with experience in treating fried hair. Ask for both in-salon and at-home treatment options.
  8. It may be best to cut off the damaged part since it once it is damaged past a certain point, it will never be able to recover.
  9. Salon treatments are available which offer a much deeper conditioning power than home treatments but a good hair pro will provide you with a list of deep conditioning treatments and products you can use at home in-between salon visits.

Fried Hair Terminology

Model with Healthy Tresses

DC Media All Rights Reserved

Hair which is healthy will have a good elasticity balance. This means the cortex layer of the hair is strong and has a natural elastic which stretches when you gently pull on the hair.

Hair that is fried or severely damaged will break under the slightest pulling or pressure and is known to have no elasticity. Healthy hair has healthy give and take and pull. Fried hair snaps and breaks when gently pulled.

1. Damaged hair is often referred to as fried, haystack hair or Brillo pad hair. 2. Fried strands are more prone to developing split ends. 3. Severely damaged tresses has no "elasticity"

Hair which is extremely damaged or fried is often referred to as spongy due to the fact the hair does not easily dry.

It may also have a sponge like texture and always feel slightly damp.

Chill Out And Let Hair Recover

  1. Avoid heat styling products such as blow dryers, hot irons or other heated or electric styling tools.
  2. When daily hair sanity requires blow drying, use ionic, ceramic blow dryers set on lowest speed and coolest setting. Blow dry for shortest period of time as possible and avoid directly air flow on any one section of hair longer than a few seconds.
  3. If curls and waves are a must, use wet sets curling hair on gentle sponge or rag rollers.

Model with Healthy Tresses

DC Media All Rights Reserved

Minimize Breakage

  1. Handle hair with special care. Damaged hair is extremely fragile.
  2. Never pull hair into tight ponytails, braids or tails of any kind which will put undue pressure on fragile roots. If you want to pony up use hair-friendly elastics or similar.
  3. If hair must be tied back, do so as infrequently as possible.
  4. Never use rubber bands which will rip and pull hair. Use Blax, Bungee or similar elastics.
  5. Avoid pulling or tugging on fried hair. This will encourage it to break.
  6. Minimize brushing to detangling only. Consider using your fingers for picking and smoothing.

Avoid Hair Care Products Which May Worsen The Condition

  1. Avoid use of any additional hair related chemicals such as dyes, straighteners, relaxers, or curling agents.
  2. Steer clear of styling products which contain high levels of alcohol which will dry hair even further.
  3. Limit styling products to leave-in conditioning products which double as detangling or styling creams.
  4. Use hairsprays with softening properties such as Phytolaque Soie. Avoid sprays with heavy chemicals or lacquer.

Model with Processed Tresses

Tom Carson All Rights Reserved

Helpful Hair Care Products

Most hair professionals agree that while many recovery treatments designed to help fried hair will help the hair feel softer and look better, they will not actually reconstruct the damaged cuticles.

Many oils such as olive oil that are often recommended to treat damaged and fried hair have a molecular structure which is not sufficient to actually penetrate the hair. Therefore some hot oils will soften hair and even help prevent further damage, but will not repair hair which is already damaged.

K-Pak from Joico contains Triamine Complex which is an exclusive blend of amino acids which are the building blocks of hair. The Triamine Complex in K-Pak has a range of low molecular weights and sizes (MWS150-2500) which allows K-Pak to penetrate, nourish and protect damage hair.

Some experts believe that products that contain real Human hair keratin in a molecular weight that will help reconstruct the hair will make a significant difference.

Long Term Recovery Steps

Model with Processed Tresses

Tom Carson All Rights Reserved

Once hair is fried and the natural elasticity is destroyed, it can take several months if not years to completely re-grow healthy new strands and recover from the damage.

The following steps will help with the re-growth and recovery process:

  • Have all damaged hair removed. This includes ragged and split ends as well as ripped strands.
  • Experiment with extended shampoo cycles from every day to every 2-3 days to allow natural oils to form and protect hair shaft.
  • Switch to a moisture enhancing cleansing product which is right for your hair type, texture, current length and condition.
  • Experiment with cleaning hair with light conditioning products rather than shampoo products. The conditioning products will remove dirt and debris, but will not remove precious oils.
  • Experiment with diluting shampoo to prevent excessive cleansing and drying out of delicate strands.
  • Try mixing 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (depending on the length and thickness of your strands) of moisturizing shampoo in a clean plastic bottle with 1 to 2 cups of lukewarm water. Shake until suds form. Drizzle formula onto completely wet scalp and then let suds gently flow down wet strands to ends. Pat mixture into wet hair.
  • Always use only one application of shampoo if using shampoo if your desired cleansing option. Except in rare cases, applying more than one application of a shampoo formula will result in the squeaky clean feeling which can lead to raised cuticles and ultimate damage.
  • Avoid anything but lukewarm water to shampoo. Hot water dries delicate hair cuticles.
  • Apply rinse out conditioner to add back lost natural oils.
  • When possible, do a final rinse with cool to cold water to close cuticles and seal hair against environmental dangers.

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- Revised Publication Date: 03/01/11

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