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Remember that one episode of Sex and the City when Charlotte was concerned that her hair looked too shiny? I've never had that concern in my life. Given that I've practically bleached and heat-styled my hair to death, damage, breakage, split ends, and an overall not-so-soft texture are my particular hair concerns. And I'm not alone.
Even though my fellow Byrdie editors have different hair types, textures, and lengths, breakage is something we all deal with. According to Nunzio Saviano, owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City, over-coloring, highlighting, hot tools, and infrequent conditioning can all lead to damage. Of course, laying off the color and hot tools are a good preventative measure to take, but sometimes you need to bring in the big guns. Intensely hydrating oils like coconut and avocado help your hair keep its moisture to prevent breakage and come in a ton of different treatments, from overnight masks to light hairstyle finishers. Using the right restorative hair treatments can actually heal and moisturize hair from the inside out. Looking to repair your broken strands?
Here's how Byrdie editors do it—keep scrolling to find the hair-breakage treatments we swear by.
Best Overall: Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
"Why mess with a good thing? This all-natural magic potion has been lauded on beauty websites for years now, and that's because it works. I slather it on my hair as a pre-shampoo treatment and other days as a sleep mask. Then I keep it in and slick back my hair for two full days to let all the hydrating, nourishing, split end-preventing goodness take hold." -Hallie Gould
Best Mask: Davines Naturaltech Nourishing Hair Building Pack
"This is one of the only protein-packed masks/deep conditioners that mends my fragile ends without leaving them too brittle or overly proteinated (if that's not an actual word, I just made it one). Since I only wash my hair twice a week, I'll use this every two weeks in place of my usual conditioner, comb it through with a wide-tooth comb, let it marinate for 10 to 30 minutes (it's a hard-core formula, so I wouldn't leave it on any longer than that), and rinse! Since integrating it regularly into my routine, I've definitely noticed less fallout and breakage." -Erin Jahns, contributing writer
Best Leave-in Treatment: Unite 7Seconds Condition Leave In Detangler Hairspray
"I've been using this leave-in spray for years, and it never loses its luster in my mind. You can't overdo it on application (I hate feeling like there is product in my hair) and my wet brush collects significantly fewer strands after I've sprayed the formula thoroughly through my hair." -Erin Jahns
Best Splurge: Leonor Greyl Paris Masque Quintessence Deep Nourishing Treatment Mask
"Yes, I know $145 for a hair mask sounds borderline obscene, but I haven't tried any other mask that makes such a noticeable difference in my hair. I have an oily scalp and dry ends, and this mask is my once-every-two-weeks treat for my split ends. If you regularly heat-style your hair or have hair that veers toward the dry or brittle side, this mask will change your life (or at least your ends). It turns your tresses butter-soft and never disappoints." -Faith Xue, editorial director
Best Addition to Any Product: Cuvée Essential Booster
"Sometimes, you just don’t have to do a long, luxurious hair treatment, which is why I love Cuvée’s newest product. If there was an award for "doing the most,” this product would win. Drop it into your shampoo or conditioner, use it to smooth flyaways, apply it after your get out of the shampoo—it’s really that versatile, and it never makes your hair feel greasy or weighed down. It’s made with hyaluronic acid and a slew of other vitamins that make your hair stronger and healthier (not to mention smell amazing). I keep it on my desk and love how soft my hair feels after I apply it." -Faith Xue
Best Castor Oil: Tropic Isle Living Jamaican Black Castor Oil
"I have a complicated relationship with hot tools. For years, I straightened my naturally curly hair, which resulted in major damage. The photo of my hair in my high school graduation cap still makes me sad. My broken-off, brittle ends needed a bunch of TLC, so I began applying this oil made with pure organic Jamaican black castor seeds to my ends and my scalp. My hair seriously sprouted. It can be used as a heat protectant as well, so I massage this onto my hair before I blow-dry and flat-iron my hair. I'm forever indebted to this stuff." -Maya Allen, contributing writer
Best Budget: Kristin Ess Strengthening Reconstructive Moisture Mask
"When I see a lot of split ends and breakage (which is often), I reach for this Kristen Ess hair mask. You're technically supposed to use it on clean, wet hair, but I choose to run it through my strands hair from roots to ends about an hour before shampooing. I have really fine hair, and traditional conditioning treatments weigh it down; I've found that shampooing afterward brings bounce and movement back to my hair while still allowing me to reap the mask's moisturizing benefits. Once I'm out of the shower and my hair is dried and styled, it feels softer and looks healthier and shinier. Most importantly, the ends of my hair are no longer brittle and straw-like. I'm kind of obsessed." -Kaitlyn McLintock, contributing writer
Best Elixir: The Innate Life Rose Hair Elixir
"The ends of my hair can get incredibly dry and straw-like, especially in the summer when a combination of sun, sand, and chlorine leech away moisture. To stop inches of my hair from breaking off and splitting, I use this delightful rose-scented hair oil. I love how rich and moisturizing it is, thanks to the 15 different organic oils it's formulated with (like rose-hip, avocado, sea buckthorn, and black cumin seed oils, among others). I also like that it's natural, vegan, handcrafted, and cruelty-free." -Kaitlyn McLintock
Best for Fine Hair: Shu Uemura Silk Bloom Restorative Treatment
"The day I stop talking about this mask is the day I perish (or finally shave my head). My colorist, Matt Rez (hey, Matt!), introduced it to me two years ago, and I haven't used another one since. My hair is bleached to high heaven, and whenever it starts to feel crunchy and brittle, I apply this product to clean damp hair, leave it on for 30 minutes, and rinse. Its lotus flower and ceramide-laden formula bind the hair cuticle and cortex, leaving it so much shinier and healthier. It doesn't weigh down my fine strands, but would totally work on thicker hair too. Holy-grail status." -Amanda Montell, contributing writer
Best for Colored Hair: Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3
"If you have color-treated hair, Olaplex's at-home treatment 100 percent deserves a place in your shower. Apply this science-backed, colorist-approved restorative treatment to wet hair (before shampooing or conditioning), and leave it for as long as you like before continuing your hair-washing routine. The product strengthens the hair from the inside out to reduce breakage big-time." -Amanda Montell
Best Lightweight: Rita Hazan Triple Threat Split End Remedy
"Rita Hazan herself once told me you'll never need a trim after using this serum. It's lightweight—almost like a lotion—and can be applied on wet or dry hair. I've noticed such a difference in my split-end situation (read: next to none are visible) after using it regularly." -Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
Best Night Treatment: Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Overnight Hair Serum
"Shu Uemura's Essence Absolue Overnight Serum is a more intensive version of the brand's Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil. It's meant to stay in all night (I usually do a full day into the night, to be honest). It repairs damage while you sleep, and really soaks in to strengthen, soften, and prevent breakage." -Hallie Gould, senior editor
Best for Frizz: Garrrett Markenson Reverie Milk Anti-Frizz Leave-In Nourishing Treatment
"I use this oil-cream formula whenever I really want to let my hair soak for a full day or so. It's thick (but not heavy or gross) and really penetrates even the driest, most damaged ends of my color-treated hair. I apply it wet or dry, depending on my level of laziness, and slick my hair up in a bun. Then, I let it sit for a full 24 hours, breathing in the herbal-scented essential oils. When I wash it out, my hair is both softer to the touch and visibly smoother along the ends." -Hallie Gould
Best Jojoba Oil: La Tierra Sagrada Jojoba
"I've been using this simple oil as my hair cure-all for years and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. It's great for smoothing flyaways, adding a little extra dose of moisture, and, yes—strengthening my ends to prevent breakage. The palo santo scent is heavenly, and it's also formulated with ayahuasca." -Victoria Hoff, contributing writer
Best Scent: Leonor Greyl Masque a L'Orchidee Nourishing Mask
"I like to slather this mask on the day before I plan on washing my hair—I just slick it all back into a low bun and no one is the wiser. The floral scent is nice and not at all overbearing, and the blend of silk proteins and botanical oils make my waves feel so soft after shampooing." -Victoria Hoff
Best for Flyaways: Playa Ritual Hair Oil
"For the first time in my life, I'm using a dry shampoo that doesn't make me wince—that's because the botanical blend of rose powder and anise extract sops up oil without leaving any weird residue. Whereas I used to smooth and spray in two or three products to breathe life back into my waves, Playa's Endless Summer Spray ($24) delivers a flawlessly beachy texture in mere seconds. And the Ritual Hair Oil ($38)—easily my favorite item in the collection—is the perfect remedy for dry ends, flyaways, and general hydration. It also smells heavenly." -Victoria Hoff
Top marks go to the Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. This natural, classic formula is cold-pressed and unrefined, so every nutrient is preserved to nurture your hair back to life. The Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector is a close second—it’s got a well-deserved cult following that literally sings its praises. To round out our favorites, we’re giving snaps to the Innate Life Rose Hair Elixir, which moisturizes the ends of dry, brittle hair.
What to Look for in Hair Breakage Treatment
Formulas that include reparative ingredients are key to restoring healthy hair. Look for moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, avocado, castor oil, and botanical blends. Oils are especially effective at delivering hydration and maintaining it. In terms of application, however, try not to go overboard, as treatments are typically potent and a little can go a long way.
Treatments come in many different forms and depending on your lifestyle and needs, you’ll want one that works with you. Solid oils—that emulsify when warmed—are ideal for intensive overnight treatments. Creams are a great everyday product to apply after cleansing and right before styling. Liquid oils can be used interchangeably—either as a deep treatment or after styling.
What's the best way to prevent hair breakage?
According to Saviano, there are a few measures you can take to prevent hair breakage. First and foremost, he explains that a lack of moisture in the hair is the number one reason for breakage. With that in mind, he recommends using a weekly deep conditioning mask that's formulated for your hair type and contains natural conditioning ingredients like argan oils and coconut oil to keep the hair healthy and hydrated.
He also recommends blow drying your hair from damp (or at least 70% dry)—and never while it’s dripping wet. “Keep in mind that most blow dryers use 2,000 watts of power, and that’s a lot of heat,” he says. “The water will boil on the hair from the heat, causing the hair shaft to become prone to breakage. It’s not any different from dipping your hair in a pot of boiling water—we wouldn’t ever think about doing that.” He also mentions using heat protection products and a natural boar bristle brush (rather than metal or plastic bristles) to help protect your hair during a blowout.
Blow drying aside, overdoing it with hot tools—especially without a heat protectant—can also lead to breakage. “I tell my clients to not use hot tools more than one or two times a week, and to only use them with heat protection,” he says. “Heat styling should also not be done at a temperature higher than 400 degrees (never turn it up to the highest setting, 450 degrees) and always use ceramic plates when it comes to flat irons because they will distribute heat evenly to minimize damage.”
Chemical treatments and sun exposure are two other factors that contribute to hair breakage, so he recommends spacing out your color services and protecting your hair when you know you’ll be exposed to the sun for longer periods of time.
Lastly, he says that one of the best ways to prevent breakage is to never skip a trim. This way, you can snip off split ends that result in dry, brittle hair before they continue up the hair shaft and eventually break off.
Meet the Expert
Nunzio Saviano is an award-winning hair stylist and the owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City.