Hi again, and thanks very much for your reply with additional and helpful information.
Your idea to cut a sizeable amount of your hair (not to within an inch of your scalp, though!) is a good one; this will enable the majority of the damaged hair to be cut away, and you will begin doing deep conditioning treatments to the remaining hair, so as it grows out, the roots will be healthier, then the hair shaft will be healthier, enabling you to grow your hair back out to the length it is, now, if you so desire.
Considering the chemical processes your hair has gone through, it would be advisable to have a professional, experienced stylist help with a 'repair' treatment and deep conditioning. Also, continue only covering/coloring your grays (roots only?) no more frequently than every 8-10 weeks, or not coloring at all, if you possibly can, for the time being. You have already made a very smart decision to not use any more chemicals!
Some products you might use at home to help get your back in good condition are those that will add moisture and shine back into your hair, like H2 Ion which contains healing ingredients like shea butter, wheat protein and jojoba. This works from the follicles, out, resulting in healthier hair. Here is more information:http://www.damagedhair.net/choice.html
Here are some other tips to help repair damaged hair with home remedy ideas, and products you probably already have in your kitchen:http://www.freebeautytips.org/damagedhair.html
Consult a professional stylist (not the one who couldn't get the highlights done) and see what they can offer you, too, which will not be cost prohibitive.
I wish you much good luck and hope your hair is looking and feeling much better, very soon!
I hope you have found this answer helpful; if so, please click 'ACCEPT' and your positive feedback will be greatly appreciated. If you need additional information, please click 'Reply'. Thanks for the opportunity to be of help!
Edited by Cher on 9/15/2010 at 1:47 AM EST