How to Care for Over-processed and Damaged Hair

So, I recently discovered what happens when you mess with your hair too much and am in the process of bringing it back to health, thought this might be a useful post for many of you. I bleached my hair for the first time ever about three months ago and then made the mistake of doing three other strong treatments within a week of it, with the dye I use (typically Directions semi-permanent) it doesn’t harm your hair and it’s very conditioning, but when you use something strong with chemicals like peroxide or ammonia in them, that’s when things can get messy.

I find it a bit mental how much damage people who regularly treat their hair put their hair through and often wonder how much they know about what they are actually doing to their hair, if you fuck up your hair it’s pretty difficult to fix at home too, so I’d say act with care and be sure to take a break between harsh chemical treatments.

What happens if you over-process your hair with peroxide, bleach or other strong chemical?

There’s a number of things that can go wrong, for me I had a number of things go a bit strange so let me describe them before I go ahead and explain how I’m going about fixing them…

  • The first problem was that my hair wasn’t taking a permanent colour at all and this was because it was damaged and the peroxide in the permanent colour then caused further damage.
  • I tried to fix this by using my usual semi-permanent dyes from Directions and found that the colour wasn’t lasting long at all, normally it’d stay in for a couple of months, this time it was fading after a couple of washes, this is because the cuticle of the hair is blown open and can’t hold the colour particles anymore.
  • When I was washing my hair I found it was getting extremely tangly in the shower, making it very difficult to work with and very delicate to comb/brush through.
  • As my hair was drying I found it was feeling crunchy at the roots, I think this was because it was so starved of nutrients and moisture.
  • I also found that if I tried to comb my hair whilst wet it would feel sticky and stretchy, you could pull a strand and it would stretch like a rubber band until it snapped, not nice at all and again made it difficult to work with.
  • As a result of the above my hair was just looking tired and scruffy.

Has anyone noticed any other symptoms of over processed hair? Let me know in the comments if you want to add more detail to this article.

How to repair and care for damaged and over-processed hair?

I’m no hair expert, but I’ve spoken to the awesome Scott Cornwall for some advise with my hair and he is an hair expert and I’m very thankful for his advise as it really has helped my hair back to almost normality. Basically, you need to give your hair a break from using harsh, strong chemicals in particular peroxide and ammonia, so there are a number of things that you can do to help hair back to normality.

Treat Hair with Philip Kingsley Elasticizer

You can pick up this formula in a number of sizes and product types, I picked up the mask as recommended by Scott Cornwall. This product was originally created for Audrey Hepburn, so that’s a nice little bit of trivia on it. It’s a rich hair mask that you use a pre-shampoo treatment on wet hair enriched with Elastin to restore normality to the texture and elasticity of your hair, what’s even better is that you can see the difference from the first treatment.

how to care for over processed hair damaged with peroxide and ammonia philip kingsley elasticizer treatment


It’s expensive, but totally worth it. However, worth noting that if you have a bright hair colour it will strip the colour and also prevents you from doing a colour treatment two days before and two days after, so worth taking this into account before you use it.  I’m using it at least once a month, but should really make time to do it more frequently.

Natural Oils and Coconut Oil 

I always prefer using natural products when I can so I’m a big fan of treating hair with natural oils. Coconut Oil is awesome for so many cosmetics and cooking uses so I’ve picked up a massive jar of Lucy Bee Coconut Oil from Holland and Barrett. Coconut Oil is another thing recommended by Scott Cornwall as it’s a small molecule that can easily penetrate the hair cuticle helping to quickly reverse dryness and work on healing damage.

how to care for over processed hair damaged with peroxide and ammonia philip kingsley elasticizer treatment lucy bee coconut oil badger balm argan hair oil

You can use a tiny, tiny amount as a leave in treatment or to tame flyaways or you can bung on a bit extra and leave to treat as a mask. The best thing with Coconut Oil is that is lasts AGES you really don’t need to use very much.

A lot of hair oils contain silicone, which although can make your hair appear shiny and smooth can also contribute to more damage if you combine with too much heat. So, I opt for a silicone free one in the form of this Badger Argan Oil Hair Oil, which I use almost daily in the ends and to tame any flyaways.

What else can you do?

So they are the three products that I’m using to help my hair back to health, but what else can you do? Well, here’s some more tips that you could try and that I am sticking with almost all the time.

  • Avoid using too much silicone in your products, a silicone build up will prevent the nutrients from the above products from working fully.
  • Wash your hair less frequently- this will help your natural hair oils to continue flourishing and will prevent unnecessary damage from trying to deal with the weird texture of damaged hair.
  • Avoid using heat – unless it 100% necessary, heat will only make things worse on damaged hair! If you’re going to use heat be sure to protect with the heat protection product and don’t over do things!
  • Use a semi-permanent colour- if your hair is looking dull, you can boost it with a conditioning semi-permanent shade like Crazy Color, Directions of Manic Panic, these don’t have any harmful chemicals in so will just nourish whilst adding colour.
  • Get a hair cut! If your dealing with scruffy hair with damaged ends, the best thing you can realistically do is to cut off as much of that damaged hair as possible and start from scratch, worked for me!

Hope that’s been helpful to some of you, you can find more of my Hair themed posts in my new category which you can find at the top of the page or via the tag in the footer of this post.

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5 thoughts on “How to Care for Over-processed and Damaged Hair

  1. Oh no! Hope you manage to sort your hair out. Sometimes a good cut and restyle actually works out really well. My ends are damaged from years of dying my hair with permanent red dye containing ammonia and peroxide. I stripped it with a gentle chemical-free stripper back in the summer and ended up with ginger hair which I loved. I dyed the roots a mid brown as they started to grow However, I longed for a funky colour so dyes it Directions Rose Red which worked well over the stripped hair and dyed brown hair. The upkeep with Directions is so tough though. It stains everything, including my skin and only bleach will get it off the shower floor. Every time I was my hair I shampoo the routes and rinse it all in cold-ish water then condition, sometime with a bit of the dye mixed in. On the plus side my hair is so much more hydrated and I dont have to wash it for a whole week. I just use a bit of dry shampoo in my roots. Like you I recommend Directions to anyone who has straw-like damaged hair- really helps and looks ace too 🙂

    Miss Tulip x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

    1. Have you tried Colour Restore Deep Red from Boots too? You can use that in the shower really easily to boost red colour, might stain less than the Directions. The Directions dyes really vary I’ve had no problems with most of the shades I’ve tried but their Dark Tulip and Rubine made such a mess! It’s amazing what results you can create without harsh chemicals, but I don’t think many people think about it!

      1. Thanks for the product tip. My hair is more pinky purple with the Rose Red from Directions which I prefer to standard red but if I go back to red I will deffo try that. I have Dark Tulip too and used over red hair once which was lovely. Thinking of trying it over my hair colour now for a deeper shade.

        Miss Tulip x
        The Thrifty Magpies Nest

  2. I completely ruined my hair with multiple bleaching. 3 years of natural products and softer dyes and it’s not changed, I’m getting it chopped off tomorrow! I think passed a certain point little can be done!

    1. Oh no! That’s not good to hear. Yes, I think if you go too extreme you can’t reverse it, sorry to hear this, I’m sure a good cut will help tons. Let us know how you get on.

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