After getting a trim, that beautiful (but all too brief) period of bouncy, split end–free hair is a dream. But as with all dreams, this period eventually comes to an end, despite how much we try to revel in it. No matter how well you condition your locks, split ends are inevitable, in part due to heat tools, brushing, coloring, and living life, essentially.
To be clear, the only way to truly banish this hair affliction is to snip them off. However, there are things you can do to treat them so that they’re less noticeable in between cuts. The best part? You don’t even need to step foot in a salon. We called on hair experts Jesse Montana, a celebrity hair stylist at Mèche Salon in Los Angeles; Alessandra Saman, a professional hairstylist at Mare Salon in Los Angeles, and Melissa Brown, an extension specialist at Mèche Salon and red carpet stylist for E! Entertainment to nab their favorite split end treatments. From DIY coconut and fish oil treatments to tried-and-true hairdos that strategically mask damage, here you'll be equipped with everything you need to know on how to fix split ends—sans haircut.
Keep scrolling for hair masks that can be whipped up using ingredients from your pantry along with expert tips.
Make a Hydrating Coconut Oil Treatment
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the beauty benefits of coconut oil (and likely won’t be the last). This well-loved oil is touted as being one of the best for skin, nails, and even cleaning makeup brushes. When it comes to hair, it's no different. Coconut oil boasts a slew of benefits that treats a variety of hair concerns be it dandruff, stubborn hair growth, and—you guessed it—dry ends. If you're battling with how to get rid of split ends, Montana recommends concocting a DIY coconut oil treatment. While coconut oil won't mend the ends back together, it can make them appear less frayed and smoother. (Plus, strands will be drenched with hydration, too).
To get the best results from the hair treatment, Montana recommends starting with thoroughly shampooed, towel-dried hair. "Natural oils are very heavy, so be sure to start small and add more as needed, staying off the hair’s roots," she says. For the treatment, take a scoop of coconut oil (about a quarter of a handful), and work it into your hair—from the ends to mid-shaft. Then, clip your hair up, wrap it up in a towel or plastic wrap, and wait 30 minutes.
Hop back in the shower, rinse, and then shampoo your hair twice. (Montana notes that although this sounds counteractive, home remedies can build up in your hair if you don’t thoroughly wash them out). Repeat once every two weeks.
Apply a Smoothing Leave-In
If you're not one for DIY solutions, a leave-in conditioner can offer hydration and temporarily smooth the appearance of split ends. Living Proof's Restore Repair Leave-In is formulated specifically for damaged strands and dry ends, and is infused with the brand's patented healthy hair molecule along with nourishing silk proteins. The result? Silky smooth hair with no damage in sight.
DIY a Nourishing Avocado Protein Mask
The key to fixing split ends? Prevention. A nutrient-dense hair mask that coats strands with everything it needs to stay healthy can help keep split ends at bay. And while you may have to skip the homemade guacamole for one night with this one, trust us—your hair will thank you. Saman’s blend consists of one avocado, one egg, and a few drops of olive oil. Together, the trio contains fatty acids as well as vitamins E and K meant to soften, moisturize, repair, and protect the hair and its follicles, resulting in healthier strands that aren't as susceptible to getting split ends. (This also gets bonus points for being so easy to make).
First, mash up the avocado and mix it with the egg. Add olive oil until the consistency is “a little thicker than store-bought conditioner,” Saman says. Apply it to the hair (focusing on the ends), leave on for 10 to 20 minutes, and then rinse well with warm water.
Rub Oil on Your Ends
We never underestimate the power of rubbing a natural oil onto our frayed ends. This has the added benefit of nourishing damaged strands while minimizing the appearance of split ends between salon visits. Our pick? Sweet almond oil or argan oil, both of which are extremely hydrating and widely available in their pure forms as well as commonly included on the ingredients list of popular hair products. When you're in a pinch, work a few drops onto towel-dried ends. The only caveat here is to be mindful of how much you're applying—it is an oil after all, so begin with a small amount of product and work your way up as needed.
Make a Fish Oil Hair-Repairing Soak
While fish oil isn't usually a first choice when it comes to topical hair treatments—frankly, there are better-smelling alternatives—for some, it can hold the key to hair growth and repair. The rich fatty acids found in fish oil are said to support stronger strands, trigger circulation in the scalp, and promote hair growth.
To make the soak, combine two fish oil capsules with a tablespoon of coconut oil and lavender each in a saucepan. Heat the mixture on low for five minutes. Pour into a large bowl, dip your ends in the bowl, and work the mixture up your hair (avoiding the roots). Wrap your hair up in a towel or plastic wrap and let it soak for 40 minutes before washing it out. “The natural omega-3 and -6 oils in the fish oil will remedy all your split-end woes,” Montana says of this DIY hair mask.
To reduce buildup and prevent limp strands, practice double shampooing as a follow-up to this mask.
Avoid Over-Brushing and Shampooing
While basic haircare involves brushing and shampooing your hair, overdoing it can exacerbate the damage that leads to split ends. Studies have shown that structural changes in hair fibers are the result of brushing, shampooing, and other types of grooming, especially when they're done when hair is wet. And, colored and permed strands are even more susceptible to this kind of damage. Combat split ends by avoiding vigorous brushing and one too many shampoo sessions (experts recommend washing your hair one to three times a week depending on your hair and skin type).
If you have thin, fragile hair, use a pure boar bristle brush like the Olivia Garden Ionic Combo Paddle Brush ($17) to minimize breakage.
Treat With Honey and Olive Oil
The moisturizing combo of honey and olive oil make it a dynamic duo for nourishing damaged hair. Honey is a humectant and offers emollient properties, making it the ideal moisturizer for dry hair that's prone to split ends. As an added bonus, it’s “great for treating a dry scalp and boosting shine,” says Brown.
Try mixing three tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of raw honey. Apply the mixture to shampooed hair and leave it in for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse it out and then wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo like Ouidad's Ready, Set, Clean Scalp + Hair Rinse ($28) to remove any residue.
Embrace Hair Tucks, Top-Knots, and Braids
If you're really trying to dodge a hair salon visit and spending time on a hair mask just isn't in the cards, style away your split ends with a clever 'do. Just about any form of an updo or bun that has your ends hidden will do the trick. Or, opt for fun accessories like scarves, barrettes, and hats.
Another unconventional yet on-trend way to conceal split ends is with the "hair tuck," in which you'd leave the bottom of your hair tucked into the neckline of your shirt or jacket. This works best with high-neck tops (such as turtlenecks) or outerwear with a strong, defined collar that will actually help keep the hair in place.
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Kang JI, Yoon HS, Kim SM, et al. Mackerel-derived fermented fish oil promotes hair growth by anagen-stimulating pathways. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(9):2770. doi:10.3390/ijms19092770