Dealing with split ends

Split ends, like breakouts and wrinkles, are one of the great beauty certainties in life. Unless you have a live-in hairstylist who can tend to your needs at all times, you’re almost guaranteed to find a few frayed ends to ruin your mood. Just because the splits are so common, it doesn’t mean you have to live with them. Here are some tips for managing and preventing split ends.

Brush smarter, not harder: Something as simple as combing your hair can cause splits if you’re too aggressive. Stop brushing your hair like you’re chopping wood. Hair is fragile, so treat it delicately. One hack for knowing if you’re being too rough with the brush is to listen to the sound is makes as it glides through your hair. If it’s virtually silent, you’re doing it right. If you hear a scraping or ripping sound, you’re doing too much.

If silent brushing sounds like an impossible feat because of your insane knots, start from the bottom of your hair and work your way up to gently detangle, rather than trying to rip the brush from your roots to your ends. If your brush meets resistance, stop, remove it, and start a little further down.

Use the right tools to brush your hair: A metal bristled detangling brush and a detangler comb combined will significantly reduce wear and friction.

Stick to the lowest heat setting: Yes, those temperature dials on your straightener and iron really do matter. The higher the heat, the more damage it will inflict, and not everyone needs 450 degrees to get results. Turn down the temperature of your hot tool to 285 degrees and see if it’ll get the job done. If not, you can slowly increase the heat until you get the results you want. You’ll need to take smaller sections with lower heat, and it may take a bit longer, but if you can keep the heat below 350, say bye to split ends.

Only work with clean hair: Most oils and heat don’t work well together on hair. If, for example, you accidentally leave conditioner in your hair, or don’t rinse it out all the way, you might be cooking your hair instead of styling it. And cooked strands equals split ends. So make sure to properly wash out all excess oils and product buildup before styling your hair.

Get a hair dusting: Sadly, the only real way to get rid of split ends is to cut them off. Because once a hair is split, there’s nothing that can magically fuse the pieces back together again. But if you’re super anti-haircut, especially if you’ve been trying to grow yours out, ask your stylist to try hair dusting—a technique that removes split ends without sacrificing length.

Slap on some product: Until your next haircut or dusting, the only thing you can do for your split ends is to conceal them with the right products. If you notice frazzled ends once you’ve finished styling your hair, smooth the frayed cuticle with a dab of shine serum.

Hydrate: If your ends are already splitting, give them a ton of TLC with shampoos and conditioners that will proactively work against further breakage.

Mask a lot: If you’re not looking to shell out tons of money on new styling products, try an at-home mask to replenish lost nutrients in dry, damaged hair. The best product is a coconut oil mask, which will leave hair shiny and smooth after once use. But just remember to wash the product out completely before heat styling.