Hair has it pretty rough, when it comes to beauty. With all that washing, blow drying and flat ironing, not to mention highlighting and color treatments, it’s no wonder your tired tresses are ready for a trim after six short weeks. If you wait longer, those straggly strands start to rebel. Smooth and shiny becomes frayed and frazzled, making hair harder to style and keep in place. At the bottom of it all — split ends sprout, traveling up the shaft and leading to that look we all dread the most (aaack – not frizz!).
You can pick ‘em, snap ‘em, or snip ‘em — but once they’re there, split ends can’t be mended, no matter what magic that shampoo bottle label says it can work. What you can do is take steps to keep strands strong and healthy in the first place, staving off unsightly splits between salon visits. Here’s how:
1. Use strengthening products
It doesn’t matter if your hair is thick, thin, wavy, curly or straight — anyone can get split ends. They happen when the outer layer of the hair cuticle breaks down, exposing the delicate inner structure and leaving it extra-vulnerable to damage. Why does it happen? Lack of moisture and nutrients is one reason. Remedy that by using a strengthening shampoo and conditioner such as the Avalon Organics Biotin B-Complex line, fortified with wheat protein, saw palmetto, vitamin E and biotin that nourish, thicken and soften hair. If hair dye is making your strands brittle, dull and dry, strengthen it with Naturtint Nutrideep Multiplier Protective Cream – it’s formulated to lock in color, moisture and shine. For a deeply hydrating and fortifying treatment, try Nubian Heritage Grow & Strengthen Treatment Masque, with Indian hemp, tamanu and monoi oils for moisture and keratin and bamboo for extra strength and volume.
2. Take care when combing
Even the strongest hair can be damaged if you’re not careful when you comb it. And it’s not just how you comb (always work in small sections, from the bottom up, especially when wet!), but which type of comb you use that matters. Replace any narrow-toothed tools, which are more likely to catch, snag and break hair, with wide-toothed versions. I like the Earth Therapeutics Styling Comb, which detangles easily and is designed to be gentle on your hair and scalp.
3. Halt the heat
Hair’s number one enemy and most ruthless split-end generator is heat. Box up that blow dryer, kick the curling iron to the curb and don’t even think about using a flat iron if you want strong, healthy, split-free hair. Not realistic? At least try to cut back. Air dry every other day or whenever possible (the Quick-Dry Hair Turban from Earth Therapeutics, with its micro-fiber, angel-tex technology, drinks up moisture fast so you can still make it out the door on time), and save styling for special occasions.
4. Defend against damage
If you can’t manage your mane without heat tools, be sure to defend them with a leave-in treatment or spray beforehand. Not Your Mother’s Beat the Heat Thermal Shield Spray is infused with protective nutrients such as sunflower oil and vitamins A and E that nourish hair and guard against moisture loss through even the most scorching-hot straightening or curling sessions.
5. Stop mid-shaft snaps
Throwing your hair up into the occasional pony tail doesn’t necessarily cause split ends, but it can cause split “middles,” or breakage higher up on the hair shaft, leading to frustrating, unstoppable flyaways. Be sure to secure hair loosely with cloth-covered, metal-free bands or a wide clip rather than snappy little elastic ties, then let it loose again to breathe before going to bed.
6. Build inner strength
You’ve heard “beauty begins within,” right? Well it applies to your hair, too. Just like other parts of your body, hair will be at its best when it’s well-nourished and getting all the vitamins, minerals, protein and other nutrients it needs to grow and stay strong. Fill your plate with healthy, whole foods and take a supplement such as Vitacost Hair, Skin and Nails Formula for extra support.
7. Don’t skip the salon
Look, I know you’re busy — we all are. But if you keep putting that haircut on the back burner, the split ends are only going to get worse. And twisting and snipping small sections yourself, as those DIY daredevils suggest, only works if you have thick, already-layered hair that conceals the clipping. Let a professional do away with the damage, keep up with the cuts and follow my tips to finally achieve a split-free existence.