damaged hair How Often Should You Wash Damaged Hair, According to a Celebrity Hairstylist

  • Reece Andavolgyi

An expert gives us a cheat sheet on tending to damaged strands.

January 27, 2023
When To Wash Damaged Hair

Bleaching, dye jobs and heat styling are common in many of our hair routines. While it’s okay to use these hair processes every now and then, engaging in a combination of all three on a frequent basis is a fast-track to severely damaged hair. Damaged hair from heat or bleach is no fun. It can manifest itself as a light dusting of split ends, (which is why routine trims are so important), or as something much more severe, like hair breakage.

When you have damaged hair, it’s important to know how to properly care for it, especially something as simple as how often you can wash it. So, we asked Jonathan Colombini, celebrity hairstylist and L’Oréal Paris Creative Director of Color and Style. Ahead, he shares his expertise on caring for damaged hair, including how often you should wash it and what products you can add to your routine to strengthen it.

How Often Should You Wash Damaged Hair?

“If your hair is damaged, chances are it’s extremely dry,” says Colombini. “By overwashing, you can actually further damage the hair, causing it to become even more dry and break off.” 

Because of this, he recommends washing severely damaged hair (hair with breakage, brittle ends and extreme dryness), no more than twice a week. If you can wash your damaged hair once a week without it getting too greasy, then aim for once a week. According to Colombini, the less you wash your damaged hair, the better. 

To extend time between washes, add a dry shampoo to your routine, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Tinted Dry Shampoo for Blonde Hair for blondes or redheads or the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Tinted Dry Shampoo for Brown Hair for brunettes. The tinted formula cleanses oily roots without leaving white residue in your hair.

Is It Okay to Brush Damaged Hair?

“Hair is most vulnerable to breakage when it’s wet and this goes for healthy or damaged hair,” Colombini says. With this in mind, he recommends using a wide tooth comb over a brush since it detangles and smooths hair with less tension and tugging than a hair brush. If you’re prone to excess tangles, spritz your hair with a leave-in treatment that detangles and smooths hair, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free 21-in-1 Color Caring Spray, Leave In, before you reach for your comb.

How Do You Treat Extremely Damaged Hair?

When it comes to switching up your hair care routine to address your damaged strands, incorporate products and practices that are centered around repairing and hydrating your hair. Here are a few tips based on Colombini's recommendations.

1. Use a Hair System for Dry, Damaged Hair 

If you have over-processed hair with breakage, brittle ends and dryness, try the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Strengthening Pre-Shampoo Treatment, the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Repair Shampoo with Citric Acid and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Repair Conditioner with Citric Acid. This three-part system contains citric acid for smoother, healthier hair and works to penetrate the hair cortex to rebuild weak hair bonds. Use the pre-shampoo treatment before washing and proceed with the shampoo and conditioner as usual.

If you have dehydrated hair or flat hair, try the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Hydrating Shampoo, Paraben-Free, the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron Plump Hydrating Conditioner, Paraben-Free and the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Moisture Plump Serum, Paraben-Free. This trio is a game-changer for dry hair, as it’s formulated with hyaluronic acid to plump strands with moisture, bounce, volume and shine for up to 72 hours. 

2. Mask Every Time You Wash Your Hair

When your strands are severely damaged, mask every time you wash your hair. Colombini’s top pick is the L’Oreal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Power Restore Multi Use Treatment because it repairs with proteins to strengthen hair while it prevents future damage.

If you use purple shampoo to keep your color in check, Colombini recommends switching your purple shampoo out for a reparative shampoo and using a weekly purple masking treatment. We love the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Anti Brass Purple Mask Treatment because it neutralizes brassy color while intensely moisturizing damaged hair. 

3. Moisturize Your Length

Damaged hair tends to be dry because color treatments, bleach and heat styling strip moisture from the hair. If you have straight hair, add hydration back into your strands with a daily hydrating serum, like the aforementioned L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Moisture Plump Serum, Paraben-Free. 

If you have wavy or curly hair, use the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Refresh & Reshape Leave-In Spray, as it’s formulated with hyaluronic acid and castor oil to lightly re-hydrate and reshape curls without creating product build-up.

Spritz the treatment onto wet or dry hair and follow up with hair oil, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Simply Clean Sheer Oil, to lock in the moisture. If you’re worried about greasy roots, apply the product three inches from your roots to the ends of your hair.

4. Wear Heatless Styles Only 

If your hair is significantly damaged, the last thing you should think about is applying heat to it. As you work towards repairing and reversing the damage, stick to heatless styles like overnight beach waves and braids. If you have straight hair, prime your wet strands with a serum like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Simply Clean Midnight Color Care Serum and braid your hair into two even plaits to create loose waves while you sleep. 

For waves and curls, plop your tendrils with a t-shirt to draw out excess moisture without tugging at your strands and follow up with a nourishing leave-in conditioner, like the L’Oréal Paris Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-In Conditioner. The formula is infused with hyaluronic acid, helping to hydrate your curls while it protects against frizz and humidity.

5. Don’t Skimp on Routine Trims

When your hair is damaged, it is possible to salvage your length but only to a certain point. “If you’re experiencing severe breakage, it’s best to cut those ends off before they break off too close to the root,” Colombini advises. 

Once you cut off the damaged ends, then you can focus on growing out your hair. After your initial haircut, opt for a routine trim or hair dusting every six to eight weeks to remove the dry, brittle and split ends that can lead to breakage. 

Next: The Best Shampoos for Frizzy Hair

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Digital Tech: Erik Dalzen, Photo Assistant: Sam Kang, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Mirna Jose, Hair Assistant: Keila Rivera, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Model: Zlata Semenko