Tangled Damaged Hair

Dealing With Tangled and Damaged Hair

In Educate by El Rubio35 Comments

The Salon Experience Part I

In a previous post about split ends, we suggested going to the barber shop for your beard trim and a glass of whisky with the boys. But when it comes to getting your hair taken care of, we advise calling on a trusted salon.

This raised the question, though, “what the hell do I do when I go in there?”

It’s a valid question.

Many of us have never stepped foot into this historically female territory, much less for services, and much less with our long manes on the line. The notion of a pair of scissors encroaching the space around your locks can be concerning alone, without having to provide direction to a hair professional in an unfamiliar environment immersed in foreign smells, sounds and activity.

Your first trip can be intimidating, even harrowing. For that reason we are executing this two-part series on the salon experience, for men.

Here in Part I we cover tangled and damaged hair, based on El Rubio’s recent salon visit. Next week in Part II we’ll provide specific tips and instructions for navigating your own visit to the salon. So here it goes.

Tangled and damaged hair

Tangled and Damaged Hair

Truth be told, your boy El Rubio was due for some hair care. While every six months is a good timeframe for most longhairs, my last trim was over nine months previous. I was a few months past due before finally pulling the trigger, and here I’ve documented my recent foray into uncharted waters.

There were several reasons for my visit—more symptoms really. My hair has gotten damn long, and things had been pretty smooth over time. But lately I started having issues.

First off it was getting more and more tangled. Having super straight hair, I could usually remove the tangles without much trouble. A little de-tangling spray, a few passes with a wide-tooth comb and I was straight. With a solid brushing regimen, good moisture balance and two shampoo sessions per week I was living the golden life.

But over the past few months it became increasingly difficult to get the tangles out. I had to spend more and more time with the comb, even using de-tangling spray, even after conditioning, and sometimes it was so bad I couldn’t even finish the job. I could brush it from the scalp, but I would still get hung up at the tips.

On close examination, I could see everything below the last few inches were super kinked and roughed up, with split ends going off in different directions and all sorts of mess. It felt rough and dry, like I just couldn’t get enough moisture. These locks were tired and frazzled, and I needed help.

It was time for a little trim and to figure out what was going on, so I went to a salon I really trust with my hair, House of Imago. They know their stuff, building their brand on “the most educated salon in San Diego,” and my hair professional there is highly knowledgeable.

Tangled and damaged hair close up

Why Am I Suffering?

I learned some things about my hair.

While I do have super-straight hair on the outside, the hair underneath, surrounding the occipital bone, positioned around the back and lower part of the skull, tends to be more wavy, a little matted, even wooly.

Over time, as that hair gets longer and more wavy, it gets tangled with the straight hair. It starts growing in different directions, creating opposing textures that tangle and mat, with the wavy texture almost acting like velcro.

Also as it gets longer, there’s more hair to get tangled. It’s now blowing in the wind more, brushing against my back, more exposed, etc. More hair, more tangles.

Combined with frequent exercise, getting my hair sweaty, salt water, chlorine and just lots of activity, my hair was taking damage and it was showing.

Tangled and damaged hair and Split Ends Close Up

Keratin Treatment

After providing this analysis, my hair pro suggested a keratin treatment.

Keratin is a protein that makes up the structure of your hair. A keratin treatment is where a keratin-based formula is applied to your hair then sealed in with heat, restoring the protein while strengthening and smoothing your mane. It’s like putting a cast around your hair, training it to go straight again and eliminating frizz.

Split Ends Close Up

Deep Shampoo

She started with a super deep cleansing shampoo. This went far beyond a typical shampoo, in terms of the product itself—designed to thoroughly cleanse; and the time spent—in this case she did two rigorous applications.

The purpose here was to get my hair completely stripped of everything, so that when she applied the keratin it would bond to the hair without any other substances getting in the mix.


The Keratin

After a quick towel try she applied the keratin. It looks like a dollop of white gel, which she used a small tint brush to apply, almost like paint brush. Holding the hair at length she applied it one strip or subsection at a time.

In my case she focused more on the area around the occipital bone, the tips, and the lower half of the strands.

Toward the ends she applied more product but used less heat. That older, more exposed hair is highly porous and accepting of the keratin, while also more susceptible to heat damage. Closer to the skull she used less product but more heat, with that hair being less porous but more resilient.

The Wait

With the keratin applied to my hair we had to let it fully set for about 30 minutes. Fortunately I was able to make good use of my time.

Split Ends Close UpSplit Ends Close Up

The Flat Iron

After 30 minutes of letting it set, she used a flat iron to heat the keratin, bonding it with my hair.

Split Ends Close Up

The Cut

With the keratin treatment complete we moved on to the cut.

We’d been so busy shampooing and keratinizing and learning about hair, I must have forgotten this part was actually going to happen. Once the scissors came out shit got real. There was marked trepidation, but she knew what I wanted and I trusted her.

She focused on the most damaged hair at the very ends, that when combed straight down appeared virtually translucent. Using a ‘carving’ technique, she cut at a diagonal, upward angle, creating a little texture and removing split ends while preserving a rugged finish. After all was done, she took off about an inch, no more, before the shears were safely tucked back into a drawer. And we can live with that.

Split Ends Close Up

The Results

…were profound. Like two feet of cascading luscious gold-profound. The tangles were completely gone, my hair was super smooth, the split ends were systematically eliminated and the mane in its entirety was shockingly soft. I was back in the golden era.

Split Ends Close Up

The Follow-Up

There were a few details to mind following the whole treatment. For one thing I was forbidden to get my hair wet for three days: no swimming, no sweating, no soaking. I was also to avoid tying it up, wearing hats or any rough treatment as much as possible.

Following this three-day period I was instructed to take extra measures to moisturize. While keratin can be great for your hair it slows the absorption of moisture, allowing it to dry out faster. For extra moisture I use spray-in moisturizer, coconut oil and conditioning in between washes.

Split Ends Close Up

The Wrap

The trim and treatment experience was excellent. As a man with long hair, having not been exposed to salons and professional hair care for most of life, the experience was comfortable, entertaining and educational, and the results were terrific.

This is why we suggest a trusted salon for your hair, and one that emphasizes hair education.

If you’re trying to find the right place, politely ask what credentials their hair professionals are required to have, and if there are ongoing education requirements. Also see if they offer classes or training, and if they post educational content on their website.

If you’re in San Diego, we always recommend House of Imago and Style Lounge Salon. Tell them The Longhairs sent you, and to be kindly with your mane.

Is keratin treatment right for you? If you have hair like mine and you’re having similar problems, it might be. Since there are many different hair types you should learn more about your hair, consult with a pro and decide for yourself.

Split Ends Close Up

Part II Is On Deck

While this week was specific to tangled and damaged hair, next week we’ll show you how to confidently navigate your own trip to the salon. So hang in there mate, and keep lettin it ride.


Are you using hair ties that are damaging your hair?
If you’re using any of these, the answer is yes.

Stop using hair ties causing tangled and damaged hair. Get superior hair ties made for men.



  1. Hey El Rubio,

    By the time I was about 3 years into this wonderful experience of having and maintaining this manly mane: I discovered you guys… It’s been an informative experience, to say the least. However, up until the time I found out about you guys I never really took stock of the condition of my hair. Though things seem quite healthy, I do have a fair amount of noticeable split ends.

    My hair is more on the wavy/curly side, on its own. Would this sort of treatment be advisable across the board, or would this be more complicated?

    Thank you, for everything you guys do!



    1. Author

      Yo KEANU! What up man?? Stoked to have you here and thanks for writing in.

      Curly hair is different, though there are some basic things that remain, like keeping your hair moisturized and avoiding damage.

      Here’s all the content we have on curly hair at the moment: https://blog.thelonghairs.us/tag/curly-hair/

      There’s more we want to cover still but some great stuff here. Maybe you become a pro and contribute some tips for the rest of our curly-haired brethren!

      Thanks for being here man, keep lettin it ride!

  2. Hi. Like your site. My hair’s about six months past the awkward stage and new problems are arising. In particular, hairs over my ears, on both sides of my head, are standing out like coily springs. It’s like fifty or a hundred hairs on each side are doing this. Mostly my hair lays smooth but not right above my ears. Someone suggested to me that it’s because I tie my hair back too much and it does seem to me that the problem started when my hair got long enough to tie back. I could finally get it out of my face, which was a major relief! But now I have this new problem. What do I do about the these few, frizzy damaged hairs above my ears – should I maybe carefully just trim them off? And how can I prevent this from happening in the future?

    1. Author

      Yo D-Money! Great question man. Truthfully, I’m still inexplicably dealing with these now 4.5 years into my long hair journey.

      It can be tempting to just cut them off, but that’s a dangerous path to tread my friend. You can find yourself in an endless cycle of dealing with these damn baby hairs trying to catch up with the rest of your long hair, but never really quite getting there. In fact I am dealing with this now to some degree, following a March incident involving a military officer wielding hair clippers.

      So don’t be too hasty. What you can do is, like you suggested, cautiously trim the super-tiny hairs around your ears. But you don’t want to accidentally get into the longer stuff, so don’t be tempted. Here’s where you might consider getting touched up around the neck as well.

      We’ll look to do a full blog post on this topic. Thanks again for the question amigo, keep lettin’ it ride!

  3. I need to get a trim as well… The split ends are real, and combined with my part wavy part curly hair, its a mess… I’ve never held back on going to a professional salon, but there is a HUGE gap between my visits, and the stress during those times, combined with the rough treatment due to lack of time and focus on projects damages my hair for good. My hairdresser did recommend Keratin Treatment a few times but I’ve always held back and I’m not entirely sure why. I guess I’ll give it a shot now. This might solve a lot of my problems, like frizz, the BULK (its surely becomes a problem when you have thick/wavy/curly hair combined with frizz+split ends. I have to keep it tied or it goes EVERYWHERE).

    My one question to your hair professional, if you get a chance to ask or know the answer yourself, is this : You stated that after this treatment you have to go heavier on the moisturizing since the treatment makes it harder for your hair to absorb moisture. However, I shower and wash my hair very often, once a day most of the time. I tried to get it to once in 2 days etc but haven’t been able to. So basically, my hair is already dry to a level. How would I proceed about moisturizing my hair if I were to get this treatment?

    All that being said and asked,
    Keep rocking that AWESOME hair man!

    1. Author

      What up Ark! Thanks for writing in, hombre. To your question, there are a lot of options for adding moisture (in fact it’s worth doing a roundup on those).

      On your shampoo routine: how come you can’t shampoo once every two days? Is it because your hair gets super oily? Try switching up your routine by skipping the shampoo every other day, but keep the conditioner.

      Coconut oil is a great choice, there are also spray-in moisturizers, after-shower products and more. We’ll look at doing a full post on this.

  4. El Rubio,

    Ive been growing my hair for about 14 months now without a trim. Like your hair mine is dry and I have some major split ends. I’m a broke college student. Would it be easier just to trim the split ends and use coconut oil to add a little moisture?

    1. Author

      Yo Dan! Thanks for writing in man. You’re definitely on the right track in terms of moisturizing. I’m a little surprised you have so many split ends, at 14 months I’m guessing it’s not super long yet, maybe to the shoulders. Look at your hair routines and see if there are any areas you can try to avoid damage. You might be able to still hold off a while without a trim.

      Thanks again for the comment mang, keep lettin it ride!

  5. Damn good hair Rubio!
    My hair reaches my traps after 17 months of growth.

    Did your ends curl up a bit aswell when your hair was above shoulder-length?

    1. Author

      Thanks amigo! I don’t remember my hair curling up too much when it was shorter; I feel like it tended to curl out a little bit if anything.

  6. I just got a trim too. The ends, like you we’re experiencing, were dry and had split ends. I went to the salon my mom works at and had the lady who cuts my hair every time take off the bad stuff. Unfortunately she messed up. I don’t know what happened, maybe she was distracted, I don’t know but I’m not happy wih the results. I still have the dried tips too, and I’m afraid to get those taken off again for I fear my hair will be more messed up. Also; I have a padawan braid, and I have had it for 2 years now. I love it. It used to be 1- 1 1/2 inches longer than my normal hair but somehow the lady cut it to exactly the same length as my hair. That really made me sad, the braid has been something special to me and I’ve put a lot of work into it over the years and she messed it up.

  7. Suppose i got off easy on this one, my aunt is a hairdresser so free trims. 🙂 great post i hope a lot of guys are taking it’s advice and sacrificing a little to get a lot more in return.

  8. If you’re tight on funds, a good alternative to the salon is to go where most of them probably got their starts… The Cosmetology School.
    Yes, you’re probably going to get it cut by a student, but they go through a couple dozen hours of instruction and practice on a mannequin before they’re even allowed near a client under direct supervision of an instructor. Even if you go to one of the senior students that can cut without direct supervision, the instructors are always close by and are more than happy to stop by and answer any questions.
    Trims are pretty cheap… My last one I think cost maybe $5. I’ve even had them do several color streaks for only $25 (most salons in my area charge at least twice that at a minimum).

  9. Your hair looks AMAZING, smooth and shiny and silky. She did a great job. Thanks for the tips.

  10. Jason i too have been doing the coconut oil.. i have left in all day many times….. with the coconut oil my hair has been at its best…. i now do my 2 chihuahua s with the oil from advice from a dog vet. Who would have known…. my wife tells everyone i have to buy him organic coconut oil…. it works

  11. Was this all heavy on the wallet?
    Just a broke college kid here so just wondering before I go in and talk to saloon about it. I think I am at the point, I have never trimmed my hair and the ends are feeling really rough these days and I am running into the same tangle issues you described so I think it may be time to let some one look at the mane.

    1. Author

      Yo Robert,

      Shit ain’t cheap dawg. But I wouldn’t let that stop you from at least going in and asking about it. There are surely other helpful solutions that are easier on the pocket book. Go have a chat and see what you can come up with, feel free to share your experience of course.

      Thanks for the comment man!

  12. El Rubio,

    Would you recommend the keratin treatment to your curly-haired brethren, or is that only suitable for straight hair? Thanks for all of the advice you provide to your fellow Longhairs.

    1. Author

      Yo Nick, I’m pretty sure this treatment is ideal for straight hair only. There may be some application for curly hair, but it would have to be done differently as the process inherently includes straightening.

      And you’re welcome man! Thanks for tuning in.

    2. Author

      Nick, URGENT UPDATE: my hair pro Shayna read your comment and immediately shared this with me:

      “The keratin is amazing on curly hair because it won’t straighten your curl, it just gets rid of the frizz and makes it manageable.”

      So there you have it. That keratin shit dawg.

  13. i don’t agree with the keratin treatment, cause much testimonys:the 1st is marveillous, the second doesn ‘t effect, the third add dried hair with much tangle
    i avoid any moisturing matter in my routine: shampoo bar ( sodium cocoyl isethionate and sodium lauroyl sarcosinate; two very geentle tensives) and a conditioner ( stearamidopropyl dimethylamine and lactic acid); the two products homemade
    if my hair is dried, i wet the brush
    when your hair become dry, one test: add to the dose of shampoo a coffee spoon of yoghourt

      1. I really appreciate that you shared your experience while staying in a salon. Mostly I give a big thanks for sharing out what split ends are.

  14. Thanks for sharing your experience. My mane is almost as long as yours, and equally as straight, but with more body. I’ve always thought that I took great care of my hair, until I noticed last week (while waiting in line at the grocery store) that I not only had a few split ends… but a TON. Went to a friend who helped clean it up, then did more trimming work of my own (with hair cutting scissors). It took a few days, and some pretty sharp eyesight.

    The ordeal reminded me that washing/conditioning wasn’t enough. So, I’ve added in coconut oil treatments once/week. It’s pretty easy to do. Melt a small amount in your hands and massage it into the hair from the scalp down. It will appear wet very quickly. Massage the scalp for a few minutes. Let set for at least an hour. Then, shampoo out. You can leave it in overnight, if you want to braid it up and sleep with a cap on. Done it twice, so far, since the fiasco and will definitely continue.

    The results are smoother hair and less tangles, for sure, and it’s super cheap to do. If you give it, or any other oil/mask treatments a try, I’d love to hear what you think.

    1. Author

      Will give it a shot Jason, thanks for the tips. I’ve been wondering about sleeping but don’t want to get my pillow/sheets all greasy. So maybe I’ll try the cap. Thanks man, appreciate it!

  15. I’m about do for a trim myself. Been about 12 months. It sucks cause it’s still growing out and I don’t want to loose length. My bangs are at my jaw at this point. I really want to get a set of your hair ties as well but can’t spend the money at the moment.
    Also, you guys rock.

    1. if you are to afraid to meet a hairdresser ( much of us have some reasons…) and you want a straight trim, you can also buy a creaclip and ask your wife or an other longhair friend to proceed

      1. I’m stuck. Because my hair has that fried look just in the ends but no split ends. So I’m not sure if a trim will benefit me. I think a keretin treatment may be worth trying. Just to remoisturize my hair at the ends.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.