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Ask a Hairstylist: How to Fix the Damaged Top Layer of Your Hair

Expose the healthy hair underneath.
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How to fix damaged top layer of hair

Q: Dear Bill, my current hair condition is thin, dry and damaged. Probably the best word to describe it would be "miserable." I'm looking for the most appropriate haircut for me.

Jurate wants to find the best cut for her dry, damaged hair.

I've also lost a lot of hair, but thankfully, it finally stopped falling out. I wash it every third day. A few years ago, I was washing every day, but that would probably make the situation worse now. 

I do not use foam, gel or sprays, and I straighten it very rarely. I usually cut it to about shoulder-length, sometimes shorter. I wish my hair was at least below my shoulders and in healthy condition.

My natural colour (as it is now) is grey-brown. I don't dye my hair. Only the upper layer is damaged, but it is damaged really badly. I do have a lot of new hair growing, which is good. 

Jurate's top layer of hair is damaged, but the underlying hair is healthy.

My hair starts to wave at about one third of way down. I don't think a short cut will look good because of the wavy structure of my hair, but I don't see any other options. 

And about me: I am 27 years old, 5' 3" tall, and my face shape is oval (I think—or maybe rectangular). Hope to get some advice! — Jurate

Jurate wants a cut that will work with her oval face shape and wavy texture.

A: Jurate, thank you for your consultation request.

I happen to like everything about your hair.

Keeping it one length is what I would suggest, and to super-condition the top layer to help keep it smooth.

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From The Skincare Edit Archives

It is a common problem for the top layer of fine hair to be damaged—it takes all of the abuse. Often, the hair underneath is the healthiest.

Cutting long, soft layers like these cuts would help rectify this, exposing the healthy hair underneath:

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Glamour Women of the Year Awards 2015

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley at the 2015 Glamour Women of the Year Awards.

Miranda Kerr Warner Music Group Grammy Party 2016

Miranda Kerr at the 2016 Warner Music Group Grammy Party.

Ali Larter GLAAD Media Awards 2012

Ali Larter at the 2012 GLAAD Media Awards.

Just remember, not too many layers, as this will thin out your ends.

I like this soft bang with a messy texture:

Olivia Wilde Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala 2012

Olivia Wilde at the 2012 Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala.

With a bit more length, a rocking shag should work for you quite well:

Alexa Chung Peter Pilotto for Target launch party 2014

Alexa Chung at the 2014 Peter Pilotto for Target launch party.

This is a great tone of colour for you:

Olivia Wilde The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Los Angeles Premiere 2013

Olivia Wilde at the 2013 Los Angeles premiere of 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.'

For a longer length, this should work—only colouring the healthy hair underneath. 

I would not put colour on the top section where the hair is dry. It will only make matters worse.