Best Ways To Prevent Split Ends
Women and indeed some men have trouble fighting those split ends. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of how to prevent them. Rachel Zajac of She Knows starts with 10 tips.
1. Learn to work second-day hair
I am 100 percent positive that the importance of hygiene can go unsaid. Of course we want you to shower! But, sometimes tossing your hair in a bun on top of your head and just hopping in for a quick body shower is perfectly fine and actually very healthy!
Washing hair every other day allows the body to repair hair with its own natural oils — leaving your hair silky, smooth and protected. You might even be surprised to find that some styles will work better with second- or even third-day hair.
Erika McKellar and Elisa Hills, co-founders of a line for damaged hair, BLNDN, couldn’t agree more, saying, “Stop washing so much! Just stop. Over-washing = over-drying.
It’s a hard habit to break, but once you incorporate a great dry shampoo into your routine, your hair will stop producing so many oils that are stripped away due to washing. When you do finally wash, replenish.
Treat your hair to some antioxidants and emollients. Replace those nutrients lost due to harsh sun exposure, the air and styling. Your hair will thank you for it.”
2. Brush wisely and correctly
First, pick the type of brush you use wisely — for daily brushing, choose a cushioned paddle brush with flexible bristles. This will work with your hair to detangle with ease.
Be careful — hard plastic brushes and bristles will tug and rip your hair apart if used for normal daily brushing on knotted hair. Next, use it correctly — absolutely do not pick up your brush and tug it down your hair from root to tip on your first pass through! Doing this will instantly push every nominal crisscross down into a tangled clump at the ends of your hair!
Now your delicate ends are forced to take on the heat of a brush yanking through thick, concentrated knots. This is an incredibly easy way to damage hair! Instead, work from end to root. Carefully brush through your ends first, then slowly work up to the midsection. In a final stroke, you can pull your brush through the entire length of your hair.
3. Shampoo only your scalp
Do not clump all of your hair into a big pile on top of your head and begin to scrub. This unnatural bending and rubbing of your hair will aid the development of split ends.
Instead, let hair hang down normally and simply lather shampoo onto your scalp, then let the ends of your hair experience the “second hand suds” as you rinse the shampoo through your hair and away down the drain.
You’ll be hearing this a lot from the hair care pros, but McKellar and Hills urge us to keep it simple to keep hair healthy and intact, “You need four to five essential things. Less is more, and you are more likely to keep up if you have less: one gentle cleanser, one replenishing conditioner, one lightweight leave-in conditioner, one dry shampoo and one deep mask. We obviously love BLNDN for its damage reversing and treatment properties.”
They continue, “Healthy hair is soft and lustrous. Use a shampoo or cleanser that is paraben-free. Shy away from sulfates as much as possible, as those suds are drying to the hair. Instead, use something that is gentle and lightly cleansing. Natural ingredients and emollients are expensive and hard to extract but worth every penny if it means you have radiant, healthy hair.”
4. Condition your ends
Always use conditioner! Be sure to apply conditioner directly to the ends of your hair, and then give it a couple of minutes to soak in. When you rinse your hair, don’t completely rinse it dry of the conditioner. (Of course rinse most of it out — we don’t want so much left that hair has a greasy feel.)
As McKellar and Hills just explained, regular product use is non-negotiable if you want to keep ends from splitting, especially when it comes to styling with heat (more on that later). “Always use product! When heat styling make sure to use a thermal protectant.
When air drying, using a leave-in conditioner or moisturizing oil will help nourish your hair and also create a barrier to protect it from the elements,” says Senior Stylist Jill Franchi at Pyara Spa & Salon.
5. Towel drying
Do not scrub and rub a towel every which way on and through your hair! Those wet and vulnerable hairs are then forced to crease and twist in many unnatural directions, thus promoting more breakage.
Instead, wrap a towel around hair and simply squeeze different areas to draw moisture out.
How to prevent split ends with basic styling techniques:
6. Wide-tooth combs with wet hair
As we know from tip five, wet hair is very vulnerable to damage. Unfortunately, brushing it is usually inevitable if you plan to incorporate any styling. To pay the highest kindness to your sensitive locks, invest in a wide-tooth comb for use on your shower-fresh hair. As opposed to a normal brush with a thick head of bristles, the wide-tooth comb will lightly glide through hair and loosely manage your locks without causing as much breakage.
7. Blow drying: Know your purpose
Purpose: Blow drying to achieve an end result and style.
If your blow dryer is to be the only heat styling tool used, do your best to avoid placing direct heat on hair ends until absolutely necessary. Once the roots and upper lengths of your hair are dry, then lead the blow dryer through your ends with a brush.
Purpose: Blow drying as just one step in the styling process.
If another form of heat styling will follow your blow drying efforts, do your best to avoid direct contact with your ends altogether. Instead, concentrate most drying around the roots and upper lengths of hair, allowing ends to catch the “second-hand heat” of the air blowing through them.
Franchi says, “Make sure your hot tools (flat irons, curling irons, blow dryers, etc.) aren’t too hot! Most quality irons will come with an adjustable heat setting. Unless you have really coarse hair, there is no need to use a high setting. Set tools to the lowest possible temperature that will still give you the results you are looking for.”
While straightening hair, always use a brush or comb to guide. Pick up the portion you are ready to straighten, run a brush down your hair and follow with your straightener placed directly behind the brush. This aligns hair in one direction and reduces the risk of straightening a strand of hair in a creased or bent position, which could instantly break it off or cause damage and split ends.
And if there’s any chance you can go without, skip the straightener when you can. “Try and avoid the flat iron at all costs, this is the worst thing for split ends,” says Sheenon Olson, Celebrity Hairstylist and Creative Director at Atma Beauty.
Instead of beginning the curl at the ends of your hair and winding all of the way up, begin at your roots and guide hair through the curling iron as you twist up.
Starting at the very end makes the most intense heat sit on them for the longest amount of time. However, beginning from the root and twisting hair through constantly shifts the portion of hair receiving direct heat, and roots are last to experience the heat.
This way, ends will only take in as much heat as needed to hold the style. Again, Olson reminds us that less is more when you want to minimize split ends.
He says, “If you can, I recommend taking a break from heat styling altogether for as long as you can.”
McKellar and Hills add, “Stop over-styling. Give your hair a break. Say hello to that beautiful curl or lovely wave. 2016 is the year of embracing your natural texture. It’s all over the runway and magazines.”
Even when the ends of your hair are splitting left and right, all hope isn’t lost completely.
“Part of preventing split ends is managing the split ends that are already there,” Olson explains. “Often, I recommend that my clients take Nutrafol, a supplement that aids in hair growth so that they can continuously go into the salon for micro-trims to remove the split ends while retaining length. My clients have had a ton of success with this product.”
Inevitably, a trim will be needed at some point to regulate split ends. If handled with care, you won’t have to get these as often.
Proper care will allow you to stretch trim appointments to every six to eight weeks — maybe longer. To prevent the split, this regular maintenance is key, says Franchi.
“Get your hair cut regularly! This one may seem a little obvious, but the real trick to keeping your hair looking healthy is to cut the ends off before they become split. Every head of hair in unique, so consult with your stylist about how often you should be coming in for trims. I can tell you this though — you should be getting your haircut at least four times a year.”
Allie Flynn offers more insight on how to get rid of those split ends on Byrdie. Flynn got insight from stylists Jesse Montana, Alessandra Saman and Melissa Brown of Mêche Salon in Beverly Hills.
DIY Mask #1: Coconut Oil Treatment
Spectrum Coconut Oil ($7)
Another day, another genius way to use coconut oil. This isn’t the first time we’ve waxed poetic about the numerous benefits of coconut oil, and it certainly won’t be the last. To get the maximum results from your coconut oil hair treatment, follow Montana’s instructions:
- Start with thoroughly shampooed and towel-dried hair.
- Take a scoop of coconut oil (about a quarter of a handful) and work it into your hair, starting from the roots and ending about midshaft.
- Clip your hair up, wrap it in a towel or plastic wrap, and wait 30 minutes.
- Hop back in your shower, rinse, and then shampoo twice. Montana says this sounds counteractive, but home remedies can build up in your hair if you don’t thoroughly get it out.
- Repeat once every two weeks.
One last tip from Montana: “Natural oils are very heavy, so be sure to start little and add more as needed, staying off roots.”
DIY Mask #2: Avocado Protein Mask
You may have to skip the homemade guac one night, but your hair will definitely thank you. Saman’s concoction consists of an avocado, an egg, and a bit of olive oil to help replenish damaged hair. Best of all, it’s so easy to make.
- First, crush up the avocado, and then mix in the egg.
- Add olive oil until the consistency is “a little thicker than store-bought conditioner,” Saman says.
- Apply it to your hair, leave it on for 10 to 20 minutes, and then rinse well with warm water.
DIY Mask #3: Fish Oil Repairing Mask
“The natural omega-3 and -6 oils in the fish oil will remedy all your split end woes,” Montana says.
- Mix a few capsules with coconut oil and lavender in a saucepan, and then heat the mixture on low heat for about five minutes.
- Pour it into a large bowl, dip your split ends in, and work the mixture up your hair (avoiding your roots).
- Wrap it up in a towel or plastic wrap and leave it on your hair for 40 minutes.
- Follow with a double shampoo to reduce buildup and prevent limp strands.
DIY Mask #4: Honey and Olive Oil Treatment
The moisturizing combo of honey and olive oil nourishes damaged hair, and as an added bonus, it’s great for treating a dry scalp and boosting shine, says Brown. Her recipe is simple:
- Mix together three tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of raw honey, and apply it to your hair after you shampoo.
- Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes, rinse, and then wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo to remove any residue.
Use a wide-tooth comb
After you apply conditioner in the shower, slowly run a wide-tooth comb through hair until all the tangles are out.
This prevents the snaps and breakage you can incur when you try to brush out hair that is roughed up from a towel-dry, advises Jessie James, stylist at New York’s Marie Robinson salon.
Mind your heat tools
That bargain-bin blow-dryer may be a tempting purchase, but inexpensive tools tend to dangerously overheat over time and burn ends into splits, warns James.
Instead, use a top-rated economical brand like Remington Style Therapy: Keratin Therapy Hair Dryer, or invest in a professional-grade dryer like FHI Black Diamond Ceramic Digital Hair Dryer.
“Imagine wearing a silk blouse every single day. It would get pretty beat up. Treat your hair like an expensive fabric, and it will last longer and look better,” says Natasha Sunshine, owner of Santa Monica’s Byu-Ti salon.
Use only covered elastics with no metal piece, like those made by Goody to tie hair into a ponytail. If looking for a sleek look, rely on products like gel and finishing spray to create a smooth finish, instead of pulling hair too tightly to achieve it alone.
Take folic acid and biotin
There’s a reason they say you are what you eat: Nutrients literally build the proteins that make up your hair strands.
Two B vitamins in particular, folic acid and biotin have been shown to supplement hair health, length and thickness, says Sunshine.
Folic acid helps the production of red blood cells, which powers the growth of hair. Foods rich in folic acid include green leafy veggies, oranges, soybeans and wheat. Biotin strengthens both hair and nails through its metabolism of fats, carbs and proteins. Brown rice, lentils, peas, sunflower seeds, walnuts and soybeans are all rich in biotin.
Use leave-in conditioner
Conditioners that you rinse out in the shower will do little to nothing for split ends, but a leave-in conditioner will add extra protection that stays on strands as you heat-style and go about your day. Consider Pureology’s Essential Repair Split End Correcting Treatment, which you apply after every wash on towel-dried hair for best results.
Blow-dry the right way
Always use a nozzle on your dryer to control and direct the flow of air, and dry hair in a downward direction before sectioning off and drying completely with a round brush. This way, you spend far less time with intense heat straight on the hair.
“If possible, air drying 90 percent before picking up the blow-dryer is even better,” says Sunshine. And of course, if you can naturally dry all the way, that’s always your best option.
Limit damaging services
There’s unfortunately no way around it — treatments like hair color, highlights, straightening and perms all cause trauma that can result in a bevy of split ends, says Abramite.
Try to limit service to just one major hair concern, and refrain from washing strands for at least 48 hours afterward, when they’re most porous and likely to break and split.
Not only will hair health improve after you go on a chemical-service diet, but your wallet will thank you.
Get regular cuts
While a haircut is the only way to get rid of split ends, regular trims are your best protection against them. The longer you wait to trim, the greater chance you have of split ends worsening and traveling up the shaft. It may sound counter-intuitive, but this is why it’s actually best to get frequent trims if you’re trying to grow longer, healthier hair.
Whatever your hair type or style, our experts recommend you get a cut or trim at least every six to eight weeks.