What Can I Do for Badly Burned Hair From a Perm?

Bounce back from burn damage by cutting and moisturizing your 'do.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

You went into it looking for something different, something new...but you came out of it all burned and frazzled. Don't cry. It's a lot easier to fix bad perms than to mend broken hearts. Fixing perm damage isn't easy, but it can be done. Treat badly burned hair gently, feed it well and pamper it through those first traumatic days and it can bounce back even stronger. Just like your heart.

Cut It

Trim off as much of the burned, damaged hair as you can. If you're not confident with scissors, have a friend or professional do it for you. Burned hair can split, and those suckers will run right up to your roots if you don't catch them when they start. You don't have to get drastic -- just trimming an inch or so off of the very ends will help protect the rest.

Drench It

Wash your hair with a deep moisturizing shampoo. Look for one that's designed for damaged hair. Just shampoo your scalp, and don't scrub at or tug on your hair. It's really breakable right now, so you have to treat it gently. Stroke a deep moisturizing conditioner through the length of your hair, working from roots to tip. Untangle any snarls with your fingers. Rinse with warm water, but don't rinse your hair squeaky clean. If it squeaks, it's got no protective moisture -- and dryness is your archenemy.

Soothe It

Smooth a light oil -- like almond oil -- into your hair while it is still fairly damp. Doing this when hair is wet helps seal in moisture. Don't do it when your hair is dry, or the oil may block water from being absorbed into the layer beneath the cuticle, which is the outer layer of teeny scales. Or, if you're not fond of oil on your hair, spritz it while it's still damp with a leave-in conditioner that contains humectants. These bad boys grab water out of the air to keep your hair from drying out even more.

Pamper It

Wrap your hair in a silk scarf to sleep in, so that the pillow friction doesn't cause more breakage. Try to avoid washing your hair more than two to three times a week. If you start to feel greasy, rinse your scalp with a little bit of apple cider vinegar instead of shampooing. Dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of warm water, and don't get any in your eyes. This will refresh your hair and also help soothe the outraged cuticles. Don't use metal clips or uncoated hair elastics, because burned hair breaks so easily.

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