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The Best Products to Revive Damaged Curls, from Someone Who’s Been through it

It’s a classic story: you grew up with frizzy, unmanageable hair and had no idea what to do with it besides straighten it every day, and hope the frizz would go down. Ever since then, you’ve stuck with your straightener routine, but now you wonder what your hair would look like if you didn’t straighten it. I get it — I’ve been there. I spent four years straightening my hair at extremely high temperatures with no heat protectant. I know, don’t yell at me, it was bad!! But I got so sick of straightening my hair, so I finally decided to embrace my natural curly/wavy hair. The only problem was that the heat had wreaked havoc on my curls, and they were nothing more than a stringy, flat mess. Sigh.

I started investing time and energy into my curly hair after I realized that my heat damaged hair looked kind of… well, dead. This eventually led me to fall down a hole of researching and learning about my hair. From all this research, I learned that all the knowledge the curly girl community has comes from Black women who taught other women how to care for their hair. So I think it’s super important to note that everything I’m sharing in this article wouldn’t be possible without Black women being generous enough to take the time to impart their knowledge of haircare to others. That being said, if you’re interested in learning more about this, a good place to start is by supporting Black-owned hair care brands.

I won’t lie to you, if you want your healthy curls back, it’ll be a long journey. I’ve been caring for my hair for a full year now, and though it looks a million times better than it used to, I know I still probably have a long way to go. But I can promise you that it is possible, and it’s so worth it. If I’ve got you hooked by now, check out the five amazing products that changed my hair for the better. 

1. Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Shampoo and Conditioner

[bf_image id="n84qq7mn6swpf9bqvh9trmfs"] The first step in restoring healthy hair is cutting out sulfates and silicones, which can be bad for curly hair. Since shampoos usually contain sulfates and conditioners usually contain silicones, it’s best to start there. Shea Moisture makes a whole bunch of amazing kinds of shampoos and conditioners (which are all free of sulfates and silicones!), but my favorites are the raw shea butter line. They are specifically for damaged hair, so they’re a perfect starter duo!

Shampoo: Ulta Beauty, $10; Shop Now

Conditioner: Ulta Beauty, $10; Shop Now

2. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Masque

[bf_image id="jxgjkv9c4xrfhk4qhqb4486j"] I’m sure you’ve seen this mask all over TikTok, and I promise you it deserves the hype. This is a great mask to use once a week (I know that’s a lot, but trust me, it’s worth the effort!) to help bring back your hair’s definition. This mask contains castor oil (which I talk more about below) which is rich in nutrients that can help with hair growth. It also contains a lot of different types of protein, which help repair damage to your hair cuticle and keep your strands extra strong to prevent future damage.

Ulta Beauty, $13; Shop Now

3. Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector

[bf_image id="b8kqgrrhpbhx86r5kvkc5jgm"] Ok, right off the bat, I know this is an expensive product – especially for such a small bottle. But when I tell you this treatment is liquid gold, I really mean it. I only use a tiny amount in my hair each month (though you can use it up to two to three times a week), and every time I wash it out I swear my jaw drops at how soft my hair is. If you’re at a loss with your hair, just give this product a try, I promise you won’t regret it!

Sephora, $28; Shop Now

Related: 7 Winter Skincare Tips That'll Keep Your Face from Becoming a Dry Wasteland

4. Aphogee Treatment for Damaged Hair

[bf_image id="qpbbw7r7psfq6w8rw8hgs9"] Something you should know about hair, especially damaged hair, is that it needs a lot of protein to help restore and protect it. Protein helps repair damage to your hair cuticle and will prevent future damage to your hair. This treatment is the strongest protein treatment I’ve ever tried, and even though it requires a bit of effort to use, it’s really fantastic. I use this every six weeks, and I try to leave it in my hair for at least an hour before washing it out. If your curls or waves look super limp and undefined, I would give this treatment a try! 

Sally Beauty, $9; Shop Now

5. Castor Oil

[bf_image id="vk7693j7rbtq9xsk2k48z"] I swear by oils for general hair health and growth. Castor oil is definitely the best because it’s packed full of nutrients which are particularly great if you’re trying to get your hair to grow super long. I use castor oil as a scalp treatment and leave it in overnight before washing it out in the morning. I can’t live without it anymore!

Ulta Beauty, $10; Shop Now

Those are my top recommendations for damaged hair! If you’re currently struggling with your hair, just remember: it does get better and I promise you it will be worth it in the end!

The Her Campus National Editors write about products we love and think you’ll love too. Her Campus has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase. All products are in stock and all prices are accurate as of publication.

Sarah Kopp is a student-journalist at Vassar College where she is studying History and Women's Studies. She has been published in Teen Vogue and Cosmopolitan (check out her work here: https://www.teenvogue.com/contributor/sarah-kopp, https://www.cosmopolitan.com/author/226092/Sarah-Kopp/) and loves to write about all things from makeup and fashion to politics and social justice. When she's not writing, you can catch her binging the latest true crime show or practicing new makeup looks.
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