Caring for chemically treated hair

I know of two of my girlfriends that don’t colour their hair at all – the rest of us tint/highlight our hair every month or two. Then there are some that chemically straighten their hair with brazilian blowdry treatments or chemical relaxers, and when that’s done we use hairdryers, curling tongs and straightening irons.

Even when considering all of the above its very much possible to have strong, shiny, healthy hair. Here’s what I’ve learnt along the way when it comes to preventing and treating damage.

Know your options at the salon

I’ve found my hair saviours at Tanaz – whenever I have any type of colour service, my hair’s condition is the very first factor that’s considered. Since seeing Shelene regularly I no longer use permanent hair colour (it’s unnecessary if you don’t have a significant number of grey hairs), and we’re on the conservative side with any colour service that requires bleaching.

Ask your friends (the ones with healthy-looking hair, obviously) for recommendations and shop around until you find a stylist you have full confidence in. There needs to be a good balance between trusting their skills and opinion and being able to speak up when it comes to voicing concerns and asking for what you want. I’ve progressed from uhms and ahs to clearly and firmly asking for what I want, even if it takes a bit of a debate/discussion for everyone to be on the same page. I promise you your stylist while love you a little more for it.

Get in touch with Tanaz here.

Home care

If you can afford it, invest in a professional shampoo and conditioner. The initial outlay is significantly more than what you would pay at a supermarket, but it’s also much more concentrated – you use much less with each wash.

Whatever you use, try opting for sulphate free shampoo – aside from being likely to cause scalp irritation, sulphates are bound to make your colour fade faster. Never skip conditioner, and aim to use a deep conditioning treatment with every third wash.

Personal preference (along with hair type, budget and lifestyle) plays a big role with shampoo and conditioners so recommendations are tricky. With professional brands I’ve always enjoyed Kerastase and Pureology, and recently I was very impressed with this combo from Wella – it’s especially kind to chemically treated hair. If you found those are priced a little too steep, Matrix is also a good brand that’s a little lighter on the pocket.

My current favourite supermarket/drugstore combo is the Tresemmé Platinum Strength shampoo & conditioner.

Tresemme Platinum Strength shampoo & conditioner


Snip snip

There’s no way around it, you need to cut your hair regularly if you want it to look healthy, full and vibrant. Bleached hair should be trimmed every time you have the highlights refreshed (you really only need to take off a couple of millimetres), otherwise you can go up to three salon visits between trims depending on your hair condition.

Don’t shy away from a good trim if your ends are split and scraggly – I’ve previously chopped off 10cm only to end up with hair that looked so much thicker that the knocked off length was barely noticeable. Besides, hair grows back and having long, damaged hair is far from an achievement. Snip snip.


Whether you’re planning a big colour change or not, Olaplex is a salon treatment very much worth considering. It’s most often used to counteract the damage caused by lightening hair several shades in one go, but don’t think that’s the only use.

I had an Olaplex treatment on my very dark brown hair a couple of months ago and I was blown away with the results – my hair was so incredibly smooth, soft and sleek that I was a little weirded out by it initially. No matter how gently or safely a chemical process is performed, the protein bonds in our hair need to be disrupted for the colour/perm/straightener to ‘take’ – Olaplex works to counteract this. A treatment lasts for about a month, and you can also use a home care version to maintain it. Highly recommended.

Heat protection

I’ll never forget the day Shelene (from Tanaz) and I had a fat chat about heat protection. Aside from comparing unprotected heat styling with baking your face in the midday sun sans SPF, she also pointed out how much hotter straightening irons and curling tongs are than hair dryers. You can hold your hand in front of a hair dryer for a good few seconds without too much discomfort, but pressing either of the other two against your skin for only a second is enough to create a painful (and annoying) blister – some of these things go up to 230’C.

I’m really not a fan of spray-on heat protectors, because I always feel I end up straightening my hair for longer to get rid of all the stickiness. I use an oil or a cream/lotion instead – I find they have zero residue. My favourite by far is Kerastase Nectar Thermique. It does a great job, smells amazing and you use a really small amount. The entire Kerastase styling range (details here) also offers heat protection, which is super convenient if you use sprays and mousses every time you wash your hair.

kerastase nectar thermique and ghd advanced split end repair

Ghd also has an innovative new product along the same lines called Advanced Split End Therapy. You work 10ml into the damaged areas, blowdry and then use your heat styler to ‘seal’ the product in. Nothing except for scissors is going to permanently sort out split ends, but it’s a great intermediate treatment – hair is really smooth and ‘polished’ when you use this, it’s kind of addictive! This should be especially great if you can go 3-4 days between washes – I feel it’s a bit of a shame to wash my hair the next morning.

C x

PS – Please take a moment for Gandalf’s photo bomb skills.





  1. Jan 18, 2016 / 11:50 AM

    Still need to try the Advanced Split End Therapy, glad to hear you give it a thumbs up. Also, I adore that Nectar Thermique. Amazing results.

    • Chantelle Bester
      Jan 18, 2016 / 12:11 PM

      Nectar Thermique was the first heat protectant I could commit to – ain’t nobody got time for sticky hair!

  2. Jan 22, 2016 / 5:02 PM

    Perfect timing since I got a cut and color recently. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Marcy
    Feb 19, 2016 / 11:11 AM

    Hi been searching for the ghd advanced split end therapy do you know who sticks it in southern suburbs?

  4. portia fielies
    Oct 12, 2016 / 9:05 AM

    hallo, is there a difference between sulphate free and paraben free shampoo?

    • Chantelle Bester
      Oct 12, 2016 / 11:03 AM

      Yes – sulphates are foaming agents and parabens are preservatives 🙂

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