Maintaining healthy, strong hair is tough—especially when you don't know where to start. There are a ton of overlooked hairstyling behaviors that are actually doing your ends a major disservice. It's probably the reason you can't grow out your hair like you used to or the culprit for your never-ending tangles.
We all suffer from split ends, no matter our hair texture, but there are a few things you can do to help. In order to find out the best practices, including ways to cut your hair, products to use, accessories to stay away from, and how to use hot tools in a safe way, we reached out to a few hairstylists who know exactly what works (and what hurts).
Get a Cut with Hot Scissors
"Get a haircut with hot scissors, which utilize high heat to seal your hair cuticle and cure split ends without sacrificing the length," Arsen Gurgov, the founder of Arsen Gurgov Salon in New York City, recommends. "Hot scissors offer a foolproof way to help get rid of split ends permanently, without having to cut your hair short. Without the heat, the cuticle stays open, whereas hot scissors (with temperatures up to 310º F) seal the end of the hair shaft, reducing damage and allowing hair to better retain moisture.
Get Regular Trims
"The longer your hair, the more prone it is to split ends," says Gurgov. "It's important to keep up with your regular trims. Book an appointment with your hairstylist every six to eight weeks regardless of your hair's length to keep your ends as healthy as possible."
Dhiran Mistry, a professional hairstylist, agrees, adding that the longer you wait to trim your hair, the farther up the hair shaft your ends will split, ultimately making your hair shorter than you started with.
"The daily wear and tear on your hair can cause split ends," notes Gurgov. "Try not to over-shampoo your hair—when your hair is wet, it is in its most fragile state. A good tip is to pull your hair back into a ponytail and use the same amount of shampoo as the diameter of your ponytail."
You should wash your hair no more than once or twice a week. Make sure you focus on the scalp when you do wash because scrubbing your ends can lead to more breakage.
Avoid Super-Hot Showers
"When showering," Gurgov suggests, "try to use lukewarm water or the coldest water you can stand. Hot water is damaging to your hair since the cuticle swells, making it more prone to splits. Rinse your hair with cold water to close the cuticle, sealing your hair's outer layer, and preventing split ends."
Invest in Argan Oil Products
"Look for hair products containing argan oil," says Gurgov. "Whether it's a deep conditioner you apply to wet hair or a shine serum for post-styling, argan oil offers weightless hydration. Unlike in other oils like coconut or olive, the oil molecules found in argan oil are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft. This makes it deeply moisturizing instantly, which helps treat and camouflage split ends."
Use a Microfiber Towel
"After showering, simply wrap your hair in a gentle, microfiber towel and let the towel absorb the excess moisture," Gurgov says. "You can pat your hair with the towel if you need to, gently. Try not to brush your hair, especially when it's wet. If you must, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair along with a spray-in conditioner. A wide-tooth comb is gentler on delicate strands than a brush."
Avoid Blow-Drying Your Ends
"When using a blow-dryer, concentrate the dryer on the roots and upper lengths of your hair. Avoid the ends," Gurgov says. There also isn't a need to dry your hair completely—letting some of it air dry will save you from more damage in the long run.
Don't Overheat Your Hot Tools
"Overheating your hair with styling tools causes damaged areas and split ends," Gurgov 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 (like ends)."
It's also always a good idea to use a heat protectant whenever you're going to use a heat tool on your hair. Heat protectant adds a barrier between your hair and the tool, helping reduce possible damage.
Use Metal-Free Hair Accessories
"Use hair accessories that don't contain metal," says Gurgov. "The metal pieces can snag and break your hair, causing split ends, broken pieces, and uneven strands."
Mistry adds: "Tying your hair up while it's wet stretches the elasticity of the hair and causes breakage." So make sure when you wear your hair up that you're using a hair tie without metal and that your hair is completely dry.
Use Split End-Healing Products
"Remember that scene in Passport to Paris when Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen conclude Kelly has split ends? Well, that line has haunted me ever since. Thus, I literally keep a bottle of this stuff at my desk at all times for when my ends feel dry, parched, and dangerously close to split territory. It smells great, mends my ends, and delivers weightless shine." —Erin Jahns, assistant editor
"This formula is my O.G. savior when I've gone too long between cuts. Before trying it, I'd never had any luck with end-mending products, but one application of this creamy elixir pre-blowout and my strands looked almost unrecognizable. I still recommend going in for a trim, but if your ends are looking scraggly, this is by far the best solution in a pinch." —Lindsey Metrus, managing editor
"Thankfully, I can't remember the last time I had a noticeable split end since using this high-powered sealant. I just need a pump or two, and then I rake it through the ends of my hair just before blow-drying for added protection. Rita Hazan herself once told me that you'll 'never need a haircut again' after using this, and I'd have to agree with her." —Lindsey Metrus, managing editor
"I first tried this serum-y formula when I had to be on camera and my hair was looking a little rough. I hadn't gotten a haircut in months, and my ends were certainly ragged. I smoothed on the lightweight, argan oil-infused blend to nourish, condition, and strengthen my ends. What I didn't realize, though, was that it has a sort of 'instant-fix' ability to smooth, mend, and seal split ends. My hair practically looked freshly cut. It's pretty much a miracle." —Hallie Gould, senior editor
"This all-natural, super-potent (it contains 15 Ayurvedic healing ingredients) oil is hand-blended and works to intensely condition every single strand. Courtesy of argan, sesame, and coconut oils, it's just about the best thing you can put on your hair. Indian Gooseberry strengthens the actual hair follicles to promote growth, minimize split ends, dandruff, and stress. Not bad for a tiny bottle." —Hallie Gould, senior editor
FYI: Here's how to nix split ends for good.