The other day, my friend sent me a picture of the glorious hair of my youth, and in less dramatic terms, that means a snap of my hair about three years ago before it had been touched by a drop of bleach or exposed to excessive heat styling. God, I love my curling iron. #SorrySometimesSorry. 

My hair is in relatively good condition, I’m proud to say, but it’s not at peak healthiness. It’s a little dry, which means it falls a little flat and the ends seem rather frayed. And while a quick trim could help, I know it wouldn’t solve all my probs.

Quite frankly, my strands need to be revitalized and nourished, and there's no way I can avoid it.  All this thinking about how my ‘do used to look before obsessing over highlights made me start to wonder how long it really takes to revive fried hair and, well, if it’s even possible. Am I just a conditioning mask away, or is it going to be like, six months before I see another good hair day? 

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So let’s start with rebuilding my mane after heat styling. 

According to Lucie Ducrot, Hair Designer at the Julien Farel Restore Salon and Spa, fixing the sitch all depends on the extent of the damage and the elasticity of the hair. "Once the hair is fried, it loses natural moisture and elasticity and sometimes the best solution is to stop the damage, grow out your hair, and cut off the damaged hair,” she notes. 

But if it can be saved, you might want to invest in a hair treatment, or at the very least, an extremely rich shampoo and conditioner. There are plenty of masks and oil out there that we swear by—Roxanne lives for Arya Essentials Hair Oil ($68; aryaessentials.com), while I’ve got a thing for the Kevin Murphy Restore Line

However, Lucie recommends Restore ($39; julienfarel.com), which is an anti-aging treatment that is meant to target the lengths of your hair, along with your scalp. "It’s a non-foaming creamy hair formula that gives instant shine, smoothness, and moisture to the hair and make it infinitely more manageable,” she says. 

Judy McGuinness, a senior stylist at mizu New York, also says that you should opt for protein treatments, so you can add the keratin and lipids back into your hair. However, she advises you let a professional handle the protein treatment, as it can have adverse effects on your hair if you leave it on too long. Eeeek. Not playing around with that! 

If your hair isn’t too damaged, Judy says you might see results after the first treatment. If things are a bit more serious, it might take two to three months of bi-weekly treatments, along with conservative heat styling. AKA grab hold of that heat protectant, kids—and don't let go. 

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What about intense damage from too much coloring?

There’s some good news and some bad news. First, Judy tells us that there’s pretty much no getting it back to its natural, virgin state, unless you cut it off. So, you can get there, but you’ll have to part with some length. "This is why it's so important to consult with your hairstylist to make sure that they're interested in maintaining the integrity of your hair,” she tells us. "If they tell you you can go from dark brunette to platinum in one day—run away! Thankfully, products like Olaplex are amazing at preventing breakage in the first place as well. Do your research and have realistic expectations as to what your hair can do,  as prevention will be the key to keeping your hair healthy,” she explains. 

You’ll also want to make sure you’re using products that work to repair after over-processing. 

While it's going to be really hard for me to give up even an inch of my hair, I'm starting to think a haircut (and a shower with a 10-minute hair mask) is in my very near future. You don't know how convincing the thought of a good hair day is... or maybe you do.

 

This article originally appeared on InStyle.com/MIMI.