A Celebrity Hairstylist Explains What to Do about Dry Ends

Woman with curly natural hair

Huha Inc. / Unsplash 

Nothing rains on a good hairstyle's parade like dry ends. Whether you color or overprocess your hair, are no stranger to hot tools, get infrequent trims, or simply don't condition your hair, dry ends remain a culprit of bad hair days for many. The good news? Unless your ends are damaged beyond repair (usually due to an irreversible process), celebrity hairstylist Marcus Francis says that they may be salvageable, even if you think all hope is lost. Bear in mind: While it can take a lot to coax thirsty ends back into shape, your hair didn't lose all moisture overnight, so practice a lot of patience, along with some serious TLC. Keep scrolling to uncover tips for dry ends that'll carry you to your next cut.

Meet the Expert

Marcus Francis is a sought-after hairstylist with over 20 years of experience in the beauty industry. From fashion week in New York, Milan and Paris, to photoshoots and the red carpet, he’s established himself as an expert hairstylist in the world of celebrity. His Hollywood clientele includes Julianne Moore, Olivia Colman, Jared Leto, Awkwafina, and Lizzy Caplan.

What to Do About Dry Ends

  • Get frequent trims: Before you get too scissor happy, know that you don't necessarily have to chop off your hair to "start fresh" (we know it can be especially difficult to part ways with your locks when you've been waiting patiently for them to grow out). Instead of waiting years (or months) to cut your hair, Francis recommends "getting your hair trimmed regularly. You can still achieve (or maintain) length as long as you communicate that to your stylist." Consider frequent, short trims (we're talking, half an inch to an inch, at most) every three months, while simultaneously up-keeping a healthy conditioning routine.
  • Treat your ends: Frequent trims and regular conditioning will ensure your ends are always healthy, versus just being healthy after a cut. Francis adds, "Your ends are the last part of your hair that gets the natural oils that are produced from the scalp that actually condition and strengthen your hair. They become dry first and after a short while, they will split and break. It often distracts from how great the rest of your hair (or hair color) looks because dry, split ends don’t give shine like the rest of the hair does. It won’t hold curls, and the overall look won’t look polished (even if you’re going for an undone style)." In case visiting a hair salon frequently just isn't in the cards for you, opt for an at-home trim, but be mindful of only trimming the dead, split ends.

You can communicate to your stylist that you’d like a “dusting” which simply implies to just dust the ends where they need to be freshened.

  • Make conditioning part of your routine: Conditioner is crucial in providing necessary moisture to thirsty tresses, especially if you're used to heat styling often. It's easy enough to reason why: "Since the ends lack the same kind of natural hydration the rest of the hair strand does, it’s important to condition them regularly," explains Francis.Your ends are the oldest parts of your hair, and as such, are already prone to dryness. Skipping conditioner can cause already dehydrated hair to become excessively dry. "Let’s say you want to maximize the volume at the roots. You can always just put conditioner on the mid-length and ends avoiding the scalp area.
  • Ease up on the heat: Given how much heat is put on hair when styling (blowdryer, flat iron, or curling iron) not to mention environmental stress from the sun, it’s key to put back the moisture that has been taken out from these sources. From rinse-out conditioners to deep conditioning ones, look for those that work in conjunction with low heat for maximum penetration.
  • Try the "Baggy Method": Now that you've implemented a healthy conditioning routine, you're in the clear for trying the baggy method, a solution for sealing in hydration by wearing a baggy shower cap or plastic wrap after applying a moisturizing product—like a deep conditioner, mask, or natural oil—to your hair. Per Francis, "This creates heat underneath the shower cap opening up the hair cuticle, which allows you to maximize the amount of conditioning agents to penetrate the hair. If you have the time to dedicate 10 minutes with this method, it'll help accelerate repairing damaged hair."

Try bagging your ends a few nights per week to begin with, and notice if there's any improvement in your hair's moisture levels after a few weeks. Once your ends are less brittle, you can cut out the bagging altogether or simply do it less frequently.

  • Finish Your Blowdry with the "Cool" Setting: Another expert-approved method to prevent and/or treat pesky dry ends lies in how you blow-dry your hair. Francis suggests, "After blow-drying your hair, turn the heat on to 'cool' to seal your hair. It gives shine, locks in the conditioning agents from your product, and closes the hair cuticle, which stops any free radicals from further damaging the hair."
  • Avoid Shampooing Daily: Although we have a tendency to want to be super clean, sometimes over-washing hair can do more harm than good. Take it from Francis who offers up some advice: "Try to not shampoo every day. On your off day, rinse your hair and condition the ends. That break from cleansing the hair will prevent dry ends with the extra moisture."
  • Incorporate a Wet Look into Your Week: If on Wednesdays you wear pink, why not also choose one day a week to rock a wet hair look? Francis says, "Incorporate a wet look into your week and [consider] using the Better Natured Hydrating Milk Spray or Leave-In Creme as your styling product. A braided hairstyle will make you feel like you’re polished enough to go out without feeling like it’s just a 'wet bun' sort of style." Not to mention, braids are a protective style that can help you transition to natural hair, in case you're interested.
  • Don't Vigorously Towel-Dry Hair: Although you might be tempted to quickly towel-dry hair post-shower, don't. Instead, "Try to squeeze out the excess water from your hair after the shower/bath rather than rubbing the towel back and forth. That friction over time weakens your ends causing them to be split and or dry faster than they would," says Francis.
  • Use a Paddle Brush to Detangle Your Hair: Detangling hair, if not done correctly, can cause hair damage, breakage, and even pain. "I also love the Wet Brush as it really doesn’t tear the hair. Start detangling from the ends working the brush upward toward the scalp. Always start at the ends!" Francis emphasizes. "Reforming this habit on how you detangle your hair after the shower or the pool or beach will save your ends from becoming weakened and dry."

The Best Products for Dry Ends

Ready to make dry ends a thing of the past? Below, we've rounded up the best products that'll be your new go-to.

Marc Anthony Maximum Moisture Hydra Lock Moisture Recharge Conditioner
Marc Anthony Maximum Moisture Hydra Lock Moisture Recharge Conditioner $8

Hydrating the hair is probably the easiest thing you can do (next to getting your ends trimmed) to avoid having dry, dull, or damaged hair," according to Francis.

Better Natured Moisture Replenishing Masque
Better Natured Moisture Replenishing Masque $22

According to Francis, "A great treatment is the Moisture Replenishing Masque from Better Natured. It penetrates the hair cuticle with enough moisture to strengthen your hair giving it a healthy shine. It’s an incredible treat for your ends especially to have once a week." 

Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask
Eva Nyc Therapy Session Hair Mask $15

Use this deep conditioning mask weekly to uncover strong, moisturized hair that's resistant to both breakage and damage.

Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Oil Treatment
Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Oil Treatment $40

Reviewers boast about this vitamin-rich formula's ability to reduce hair breakage and impart a lustrous shine.

Kenra Professional Platinum Restorative Reconstructor
Kenra Professional Platinum Restorative Reconstructor $28

This concentrated treatment of keratin amino acid technology is able to reach damaged hair cuticles to provide deep hydration and improve elasticity.

Better Natured Hydrating Leave-In Milk
Better Natured Hydrating Leave-In Milk $22

"A daily conditioner to use as a styling product is either the Better Natured Hydrating Milk Spray or the Better Natured Strengthening Leave-in Cream," says Francis. He adds, "Both give the hair amazing results leaving the hair feeling soft and hydrated, depending on if you prefer a spray or creme to apply to your hair."

Raincry Rebuild Bond Repair
Raincry Rebuild Bond Repair $38

Say bye-bye to split-ends with this leave-in conditioner. Formulated with a blend of collagen peptides, CBD, and lotus flower, this lightweight product works to strengthen, moisturize, and protect hair.

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