In the hair business, "damage" means that the cuticle is roughed up, chipped, cracked or even worn off. There's a long list of things that can damage hair: too much washing, combing and brushing; too-hot dryers and styling implements; bleaching and dyeing; and perming and straightening are the most common. Even swimming in salt water can do damage if you're not careful. African American hair, because of its fragile structure, is particularly prone to damage. But no matter what a product claims, hair can't be permanently repaired. The only way to get rid of the damage is to wait for your hair to grow out and to develop healthier habits.
Meanwhile, there are ways to make your hair look less damaged. When you wash it, be sure to use a good strong conditioner-leave it on as long as possible-that contains proteins and humectants. (If your scalp is oily, keep conditioners away from the roots.) About once a week, do a deep-conditioning treatment. And remember that a drop of silicone serum also can help smooth down the cuticle and add a bit of shine.