Let's face it: We all suffer from split ends, no matter our hair texture. And while we'd love to believe that split ends can magically mend back together, the likelihood of that happening is—well—slim to none. But don't fret, because there are things you can do to mask frayed ends and get them looking their very best, from getting regular trims to using good-for-your-hair products and strengthening shampoos. For starters, the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to damaged ends can be summed up into one word: prevention.
We know maintaining healthy, strong hair is tough, especially when you're not equipped with a roadmap of where to begin. We reached out to hair experts to explain all we need to know about split ends: from what causes them to how to prevent them.
Keep scrolling to get one step closer to being split end-free.
Meet the Expert
- Arsen Gurgov is a professional hairstylist and the founder of Arsen Gurgov Salon in New York City.
- Lena Philippou-Korres is a chemical engineer and the cofounder, brand president, and Chief Innovation Officer of KORRES.
Get a Haircut with Hot Scissors
Have fine, frizzy hair that's no stranger to split ends? Gurgov recommends getting a haircut with hot scissors, as "they offer a foolproof way to help get rid of split ends permanently without sacrificing the length." He notes that hot scissors utilize high heat to seal your hair cuticle and cure split ends. "Without the heat from the scissors, the cuticle stays open, whereas hot scissors (with temperatures up to 310º F) help to seal the end of the hair shaft," he says. This is meant to reduce damage and allows the hair to better retain moisture.
Get Regular Trims
The techniques that mask the appearance of split ends are doing just that: concealing instead of treating. According to Gurgov, the reality is that "the longer the hair, the more prone it is to split ends, making it that much more important to keep up with your regular trims." He recommends booking an appointment with your hairstylist every six to eight weeks regardless of your hair's length to keep your ends as healthy as possible. The longer you wait to trim your hair, the farther up the hair shaft your ends will split, ultimately making your hair shorter than what you started with.
To keep hair fresh in between cuts, try working in a restorative spray like this one from The Mane Choice, which disguises stubborn split ends and gives hair an instant boost of shine.
Wondering how to prevent split ends? Gurgov advises you to be mindful of over-shampooing your hair. "When your hair is wet, it's in its most fragile state, and the daily wear and tear on wet hair (in the form of shampooing) can cause split ends," he notes. "A good tip to avoid over-shampooing is to pull your hair back into a ponytail and use the same amount of shampoo as the diameter of the ponytail."
If you're sporting hair that's susceptible to split ends—particularly finer and naturally textured hair—opt for a shampoo that has revitalizing benefits. This one from KORRES is a gentle shampoo that keeps hair balanced while providing it with essential nutrients.
Invest in Argan Oil Products
Haircare's liquid gold (aka argan oil) is a miracle hair elixir, and Gurgov agrees. He recommends using hair styling products containing argan oil, "whether it's a deep conditioner you apply to wet hair or a shine serum for post-styling." He notes that "argan oil offers weightless hydration, and unlike other oils (like coconut or olive), the oil molecules found in argan oil are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft." The result? Instant moisture that camouflages split ends.
Generally speaking, hair masks are a great way to condition dry locks. This argan-infused hair mask from Maria Nila helps to strengthen limp strands and fight off frizz.
Argan oil is a plant oil extracted from the kernels of the fruit pit of the argan tree (aka Argania spinosa) which grows in Morocco. The ingredient is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids. It also provides anti-inflammatory and moisturizing benefits.
Avoid Super-Hot Showers
It's tough letting go of that cozy feeling hot showers evoke, but the truth is, scalding hot water doesn't allow the hair cuticles to rid themselves of split end-causing buildup. "When showering, try to use lukewarm water or the coldest water you can stand," Gurgov suggests. "Hot water is damaging to your hair since the cuticle swells, making it more prone to splits." Especially when it comes time for rinsing, he recommends using cold water to close the cuticle to seal the outer layer of the hair.
Avoid Blow-Drying Your Ends
Let's face it: The more heat you apply to your ends, the more they'll be exposed to damage. For this reason, Gurgov recommends concentrating the dryer on the roots and upper lengths of your hair rather than the ends. He also notes that there's no need to dry your hair completely with the blowdryer—letting some of it air dry will save you from more damage in the long run.
A powerful hairdryer that limits heat exposure is ideal for damage-prone ends. We're big fans of Moroccanoil's dryer because it's lightweight yet powerful, and features ceramic honeycomb heating meant to reduce drying time—your ends will thank you.
Use a Microfiber Towel
Just as microfiber towels are more effective than terry towels at picking up dirt and debris around the house, they're better able to dry the hair post-shower and have the added benefit of being more gentle. "After showering, wrap your hair in a microfiber towel and let the towel absorb the excess moisture," Gurgov says. "You can pat your hair gently with the towel if you need to." He also adds that brushing your hair when it's wet can cause breakage. "If you must, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair (it's more delicate on strands compared to a brush) along with a spray-in conditioner."
4C curls can especially benefit from using a softer towel for drying as harsher towel textures may cause finer hair to break more easily. If you don't happen to have a microfiber towel on hand, wrapping your hair in a t-shirt is an easy way to protect your hair while it's drying.
Use Metal-Free Hair Accessories
Whether you're donning a topknot, ponytail, or half-up half-down style, the accessories you put in your hair could contribute to damage—metal ones included. Gurgov recommends using hair accessories that don't contain metal, as "the metal pieces can snag and break your hair, causing split ends, broken pieces, and uneven strands." Of course, you'll want to use something that still offers hold for your style, which is why we love these from Scunchi—they're great for all hair types (thick included).
Don't Overheat Your Hot Tools
If you're used to cranking up your straightener to its highest setting, Gurgov recommends taking it down a notch (or two). "Overheating your hair with styling tools causes damaged areas and split ends," he says. "Try to use the low or medium setting when possible, and limit the use of hot tools on the vulnerable parts of your hair."
If your hair relies heavily on hot tools, ensure you're protecting it with a heat protectant spray. The heat protectant adds a barrier between your hair and the tool, helping to minimize possible damage.
When it comes to the hot tools you use, opt for one that offers the most protection like this hair straightener from Dyson—it features innovative flexing plates that are meant to mold to your hair, reducing the amount of heat needed without compromising style.
Resist the Urge to Pick
It's tempting to want to break off and pull apart your split ends, but this can wreak havoc on your strands and make room for more split ends to emerge. Picking is no replacement for visiting your hairstylist, and the key is to get ahead of the picking by trimming regularly, even if you're on the path to growing out your locks.
Resist the urge to pick at your ends by getting a hair dusting, a method of haircutting that rids your hair of split ends without relinquishing all of the hard work you put in to grow it out.
Disguise With a Nourishing Oil
If your ends need a little TLC in between haircuts, hair oil can work wonders at concealing any that are split. Go for one that has moisturizing, nourishing ingredients—like this one from KORRES that is formulated with Pure Greek Olive Oil.
"Women of antiquity swore by olive oil when it came to safeguarding their unrivaled beauty—it keeps hair (and face and body) velvety, healthy-looking and radiant," says Philippou-Korres. She explains that this particular product is formulated without silicones, and it is boosted with a mix of vitamins C, E, F, and omega-6 fatty acids.
Learn What to Avoid
Considering the ingredients in your hair products can make a big difference when it comes to choosing which are best. "I avoid various synthetic compounds usually found in conventional haircare formulations, along with silicones, parabens, mineral oils, propylene glycol, PCM, phthalates, and ethanolamines," says Philippou-Korres. "Instead, I lean into advanced formulations with highly efficacious natural ingredients that focus on the scalp and hair appearance for both short and long term."
What causes split ends?
Split ends result from overlooked hairstyling behaviors that do your ends a major disservice (ahem, hot tools). These are likely the culprit for never-ending tangles, slow hair growth, and—you guessed it—dry ends.
Are there different types of split ends?
Believe it or not, split ends are not all the same. The most traditional split end breaks ends of hair into a "Y" shape. If you have curlier hair, you might have knotted split ends. Another type you might see is the tapered split end which occurs when the outer cuticles of your strands break down to reveal the cortex.
How often should I shampoo to avoid split ends?
Try limiting your shampooing to two times a week. When you do shampoo, avoid scrubbing at the ends—this could lead to more breakage—and focus the cleansing at the roots.