On a good day, your hair is glossy and styled to perfection. Your color is bright and even, complementing your makeup perfectly. But what is that happening at the ends of your mane? Are those the dreaded split ends we see?
If you’re a normal woman who regularly styles your hair using heat, chances are good you’ve spent time wondering how to get rid of split ends once and for all. There’s no miracle way to fuse your ends back together (trust us, we asked), but there plenty of strategies for minimizing damage to your hair in the future.
Split ends happen, but they don’t have to ruin your hair. Trust us. To get real deal advice on when to save (and when to chop) split ends, we called on Pureology global artistic ambassador Ruth Roche.
Although Roche is perfectly willing to hand over a dozen product recommendations and styling tips that will downplay the look of dry, damaged ends, she’s not planning to mince words on the subject. Once your hairs have split, the only way to deal with the problem is to cut the ends off and start fresh.
Ready for tough love and excellent styling advice? Roche has you covered. Your hair is about to get a lot healthier, thanks to her expert tips.
Why do split ends happen?
All things might be fair in love and war, but when it comes to hair rough treatment that just won’t cut it. Your strands are incredibly delicate, particularly when it comes to heat.
When Roche sees regular clients sitting down in her chair with noticeably split ends, she attempts to address the root of the problem before ever touching her scissors. In other words: How are you doing this to your hair?
Split ends usually occur when hair is not cared for properly...It splits because it’s weak, dehydrated, and heat damaged.
By the time you’re noticing crunchy ends, it’s too late to fix the problem. According to Roche, the best thing you can do is start fresh, planning a hair care routine that hydrates and nourishes your strands instead of breaking them down.
Oh, and always make sure you’re using a heat protectant. No excuses!
“Always use a thermal protector—[Pureology’s] Colour Fanatic is perfect—prior to blow-drying,” Roche reminds us. “This will protect your ends from the heat.”
To ensure you’re guarding your hair against split ends, pros always recommend treating your strands like they’re a delicate fabric. You wouldn’t throw your favorite silk shirt in the washer on hot, so take the same pains with your hair. Instead of rubbing your hair with a towel after showering, gently squeeze the excess water out of your hair before patting it with a towel.
How can we prevent split ends, even when we’re not heat styling?
Here comes the fun part: picking out new products and steps to add to your daily routine. Roche’s primary concern is making sure your hair is being cared for properly. That means a focus on hydration, strength, and heat protection.
However, products are only one piece of the hair care puzzle. You’ll also want to rethink your styling and maintenance routine.
“To prevent split ends, you should get regular trims, Roche says. “Use the correct hair care products for optimal health and strength, and use the proper type of brush or comb to gently detangle and style.”
Pro tip: Brush in small strokes from your ends up the shaft of the hair. That way, you’ll detangle any knots without yanking on the full strand. We’d also recommend sleeping with your hair in a bun or braid at night, which can protect the ends of your mane from friction-based damage.
Still feeling like breakage is getting you down? It might be time to trade your cotton pillowcase for a satin version. The smooth surface helps ensure less snagging as you move your head in your sleep, which can result in less frizz and breakage. We’d also recommend swapping your elastic hairband for a ribbon or cord version.
Once the strand is split, is there anything that can be done to save it?
Roche only has one answer for you.
“Once a hair is split, it is split,” she says. “The only way to fix it is to cut the end to make it blunt and fresh again...If you are preserving the length, ask for just a trim—that should get rid of most of [the split ends].”
Of course, any woman who’s ever gotten her hair cut can tell you it’s not as simple as whacking off the extra inches. Growth takes time, so many of us are unwilling to part from our length for something that’s as unsexy as healthy hair. Still, Roche says even a light trim will save your mane from most of the damage.
“If you are growing your hair out, get a one-eighth-inch trim every six weeks,” she adds.
Looking for a temporary fix that doesn’t involve shears? Roche is a big fan of Pureology’s Strength Cure Split End Salve, a leave-in treatment that reduces the look of split ends, as well as the brand’s Strength Cure Fabulous Lengths heat protectant serum.
What’s more, Roche’s cocktail of products is an excellent choice for blowout addicts.
“Always apply Fabulous Lengths throughout the strands and at the ends...as well as the Split End Salve on the ends prior to blow drying,” the stylist says. “Although the salve does not repair or get rid of the split ends, it cosmetically smooths them and prevents hair from splitting further.”
For added protection, swap your shampoo and conditioner for the rest of the Strength Cure hair system. It will help your hair feel softer and less tangled.
If you’re feeling at a loss when trying to piece together a new hair care routine, don’t forget to use your stylist as the ultimate resource. When you’re honest about your concerns, budget, and skill level, he or she can customize an appointment and care routine to fit your lifestyle.
Are there any hairstyles that hide split ends well?
When you’re growing your hair long, those strands are inevitably going to take a bit of rough treatment. Whether you forgot to brush your mane for a solid week or can’t bring yourself to invest in a quality hair mask, those lengths are the real victims.
In short: Long hair will nearly always develop a few split ends. It’s just the nature of the style. If mermaid-length waves are bound to split, it stands to reason that the only damage-free cut is one that’s being trimmed all the time. A bob, lob, or crop is your best bet for a hairstyle without split ends, particularly if you’re getting it touched up regularly.
In the interest of disguising your split ends instead of chopping them off entirely, a shag or similarly dramatic cut can put an end to your damage blues.
“Cuts with lots of texture can help to hide split ends,” Roche explains. “Smoothing products, such as [Pureology] Cuticle Polisher will add shine to the ends, minimizing the appearance of damaged ends.”
If a fresh cut isn’t in the picture, clever styling tricks can also help hide your damaged ends. For severe split ends, a polished chignon is both simple and effective at masking your ends—we’d even recommended trying out a ballerina bun or top knot for similar results. Try to stay away from braids and ponytails, which put visual emphasis on the last inch of your hair.
Damaged ends, be gone. We don’t have time for you.
Still looking for more product picks than can address split ends? We’ve got you covered with these favorites from the L’Oréal portfolio of products.
Redken Extreme Length Sealer
As the name implies, Redken Extreme Length Sealer is a split end treatment for distressed hair formulated with biotin. Apply on damp or dry hair, concentrating on the mid-lengths through ends. Leave it in, reapplying on dry hair if needed.
Redken Extreme Length Sealer, $24.00 MSRP
Matrix Biolage Hydra Foaming Styler
The Biolage Hydra Foaming Styler is a conditioning mousse that provides medium hold to add body and natural movement to any style. We love the way it helps us hide split ends.
Matrix Biolage Hydra Foaming Styler, $17.00 MSRP
Mizani Edge Taming Gel
If your hair is fragile, you’re in dire need of Mizani’s Edge Taming Gel. The formula—which is mineral oil and petrolatum free—can help temporary seal the ends of your split hairs together. We also love this one for artfully manipulating your edges, giving curlicues and looped designs a try.
Mizani Edge Taming Gel, $18.00 MSRP
L'Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Lipidium Double Serum
This double serum is formulated for very damaged hair to help split ends appear sealed. The advanced formula, enriched with a Lipidium complex, contains a resurfacing ceramide. Split ends instantly appear sealed, as though repaired.
L'Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Lipidium Double Serum, $28.00
For customized split end advice, use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.