Damaged Hair Explained: Which Shampoo Is Best For Damaged Hair?

Dry and damaged hair.

If you’ve ever experienced having damaged hair, you’ll know that it’s no fun. The hair feels dry and brittle and if you run your fingers through it, they’ll likely get stuck at some point because your hair gets easily knotted. You may also find that your hair is prone to breakages, you have split ends and the color has dulled. A pretty dismal prognosis for anyone.

If you can relate to the above description of damaged hair, I truly feel for you. I suffered from damaged hair not so long ago which is why I’m here to discuss this all-important topic. I hope to inspire you through sharing my journey of how I went from dry, damaged and thinning hair to regaining my natural, thick, healthy hair. Yes, miracles do happen. So, don’t give up on your hair just yet. There is hope.

What Is Damaged Hair?

Comb brushing knotted hair.

Damaged hair knots easily.

Loss Of Elasticity

Healthy hair should have body and elasticity. It should bounce back if you tug at it. You know your hair is damaged if it breaks when you pull at it.

Split Ends

The tips of your hair shafts will look and feel dry and damaged when they have split into fragments. This could either mean that all your hair is damaged, or it can occur over time to the tips of your hair which are older. If you are noticing that the top of your head is full and healthy and the tips are dry and brittle, this means that you have split ends and should trim your hair to prevent your hair from knotting and from sustaining further damage.

High Porosity

Damaged hair is more porous than healthy hair. Therefore damaged hair will absorb moisture and chemicals more quickly and easily than healthy hair.

Dry And Brittle

It’s normal for curly hair to be naturally drier than straight hair, but if your straight hair is dry and brittle, you’ve probably got damaged hair. If you’re a curly haired girl and wondering how you can distinguish dry hair from damaged hair, pay attention to the level of dryness. If your hair is all dry with no moisture whatsoever and prone to breakages, your hair is more likely to be damaged rather than dry.

Prone To Breakages

Damaged hair is dry, brittle and knots easily making it prone to breakages.

Knots Easily

Damaged hair is usually dry, brittle and has split ends, all of which cause the hair to knot easily. During the phase in which I had damaged hair, I felt that no matter how many times I brushed my hair, it always knotted again soon after and never felt smooth and soft.

What Causes Damaged Hair?

Hair straightening.

Straightening your hair leads to dry and split ends.


Brushing your hair too often can cause split ends and breakages. 

Over-Washing Your Hair

Washing your hair too frequently can weaken your hair and suck out the natural oils from your hair.

Heat Damage

I learned this the hard way. For a year, I regularly ironed my hair straight. I realized the grave mistake I’d made a little too late. The regular exposure to intense heat made my hair dry and brittle. Of course, a hot air brush could in fact help your hair!

Hair Dying

This can cause hair breakages and dry out your hair. Hair dye needs to break through your hair cuticles (your hair’s natural protection) in order for it to set permanently. Once the ammonia in hair dye lifts the hair cuticles, the peroxide in hair dye works to strip away your natural hair color so that a new color can be deposited onto your hair. The longer this process takes, and your cuticle is exposed, the more damaged your hair will sustain.

Lack Of Vitamins And Nutrients

Maintaining a healthy diet keeps our hair healthy. Vitamins and nutrients like iron, zinc, protein, vitamins A, B, E, D, and C are all important for hair growth and overall hair health.


Not only can stress cause hair loss, but stress can also cause damaged hair and hair breakages. Stress can lead to telogen effluvium which makes your hair follicles go dormant causing hair that’s in the middle of a hair cycle to break off.

Ingredients To Look For In Shampoo For Damaged Hair

Keratin before and after results.

Before and after using keratin on damaged hair.


I swear by keratin. It’s probably THE most important ingredient to look for in shampoos for damaged hair. Natural oils and moisturizing ingredients will hydrate your hair and may improve the appearance of damaged hair, but they won’t repair damaged hair the same way keratin can.

Many people confuse damaged hair with dry hair and vice versa. They are two very different things. Dry hair needs moisture while damaged hair needs protein. Keratin is a protein that makes up the outer layer of our skin, our nails, and our hair. Damaged hair reflects a loss in essential proteins. Using a shampoo infused with keratin proteins can help rebuild the protein structure of damaged hair, working to repair the hair.


This protects the hair from further damage and retains moisture in your hair.

Natural Oils

Natural oils, such as argan oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, and almond oil, hydrate your hair. Nourishing your hair removes some of the dryness, preventing hair breakages and further damage to your hair.

Ingredients To Avoid In Shampoo For Damaged Hair

Woman shampooing her hair.

Some ingredients in shampoos make damaged hair worse.


You may have noticed hair products increasingly being advertised as silicone free. Silicon has received a bad rap for having negative side effects on your hair. It gives the hair a plastic coat, giving your hair the illusion of being healthy and shiny when, in reality, the plastic coat blocks moisture and nutrients from entering the hair shaft. Silicon lends your hair a short-term appearance of being healthy and shiny before the lack of moisture in your hair weakens your hair, making it dry, brittle, prone to breakages, dull and lifeless.


Sulfates are chemical detergents that work a little too effectively. They remove the dirt and oil from your hair together with your hair’s natural moisture that keeps it healthy. Sulfates may also contain traces of the carcinogen, dioxane. Frequently using shampoos with sulfates can be harsh on your hair, eventually leading to damage.


Products containing formaldehyde faced a lot of consumer backlash recently. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and may increase the risk of several other diseases. We should all avoid shampoos containing this ingredient, not only those of us with damaged hair.

What’s The Best Shampoo For Damaged Hair?

1. Schwarzkopf GLISS Ultimate Repair Shampoo

A bottle of GLISS ultimate repair shampoo..

GLISS ultimate repair shampoo.

I am all into affordable hair care products; no need to go broke caring for your hair. The Schwarzkopf GLISS Ultimate Repair Shampoo is reasonably priced and works wonderfully to repair damaged hair. The shampoo is advertised as containing 3x liquid keratin. I’m not sure what this means exactly, but I imagine the shampoo is chockfull of keratin proteins which, I can attest from personal experience with keratin products and treatments, are fantastic hair repair mechanisms.

2. OGX’s Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil Shampoo

A bottle of OGX’s anti-breakage keratin oil shampoo.

OGX’s anti-breakage keratin oil shampoo.

Keratin infused products and keratin smoothing hair treatments have been all the buzz lately. The protein is known for combating frizz and revitalizing and repairing damaged hair. Don’t feel like shelling out a few hundred for a salon keratin treatment for your damaged hair? Not to worry, OGX’s Keratin Oil Shampoo can be picked up at your local drug store for an affordable price. The shampoo infuses your hair with keratin protein and the popular Argan Oil to repair and hydrate damaged hair.

3. TRESemmé Split Remedy

A bottle of TRESemmé split remedy.

TRESemmé split remedy.

Although this one’s not exactly a shampoo, I couldn’t forgo including it in the list. TRESemme’s Split Remedy glues frayed strands together and prevents further split ends, keeping your hair soft and healthy.

4. Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo 

A bottle of Dove intensive repair shampoo. 

Dove intensive repair shampoo.

Another affordable hair repair product that works wonderfully. The Dove Intensive Repair helps to strengthen and thicken your hair and temporarily seal split ends.

5. Pantene Damage Detox Shampoo

A bottle of Pantene damage detox shampoo.

Pantene damage detox shampoo.

Specifically formulated for damaged, colored and straightened hair, the Pantene Damage Detox is full of antioxidants to detox hair from impurities. The product revitalizes hair and protects hair from damage.


So, that’s it. The low down and everything you need to know about taking care of your damaged hair. There’s no reason to neglect damaged hair when there are so many fantastic products available to treat it. I guess with the advent of styling tools that cause heat damage, we’ve had to introduce products like keratin proteins to counteract the widespread unhealthy hair practices.

With the increasing number of shampoos designed to treat damaged hair, I still believe prevention is the key when it comes to damaged hair. If you have damaged hair, it’s never too late to start being kind to your hair. Pick up a repairing shampoo at your local drug store and consider embracing your natural tresses and hair color, because over coloring your hair and heat damage are among the top causes for damaged hair.