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How Not to Wreck Your Hair

3. Protect your Hair from the Heat

There are hair products made to protect your hair from the heat of dryers, curling irons, or flat irons. Many of them use silicone as a protective coating for your hair.

When it comes to causing damage, "irons are worse than blow dryers," says Carolyn Jacob, MD, a Chicago dermatologist and associate clinical instructor of dermatology at Northwestern University School of Medicine, Chicago.

To protect your hair while styling, work quickly.

"If you are using a curling or straight iron, you should probably not use it for more than three or four seconds [per section]," Jacobs says.

4. Study Styling Technique

A little professional advice never hurts. Ask your hair stylist to go over how to style your hair, even if you've done it yourself for years.

The stylist may be able to show you shortcuts, or newer techniques. Set up a separate appointment, or ask in advance for some extra time at your next visit. That will give your stylist time to work with you.

How to Repair Damaged Hair

If your hair suddenly begins to break off, feels rougher or kinkier, looks dull, shows split ends, or sticks up in places it never did before, it's probably damaged.

Jacob offers this advice: "If it's split and it shows, I'd cut it!"

But Goodman doesn't agree entirely, saying that good hair repair products may make that unnecessary.

Here are your other options:

Try at-home treatments. Products with oils and moisturizers are designed to repair heat-damaged hair, Thalken says.

If you hair is also chemically damaged (such as from over-coloring), Thalken suggests using hair repair products with protein to make it look better.

Get professional help. If do-it-yourself treatments don't work, consider more intensive salon repair treatments that can strengthen the hair so it's protected and looks smooth. Goodman says, "Some deep repair conditioners will not restore the hair's original structure. But they will imitate the original structure with proteins and help fill damaged areas." These products can also protect your hair from further damage.

Be patient. "If an inch on your ends is damaged, it may take two or three months to get your hair back to normal," says Goodman.

Once your hair is repaired, keep it healthy with the proper use of tools and a regular trim. For most people, Goodman says, that means heading back to the salon for a cut every 4 to 6 weeks.

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