Nothing rains on a good hairstyle's parade like dry ends. Whether you color or over process your hair, are no stranger to hot tools, get infrequent trims, or 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. His Hollywood clientele includes Julianne Moore, Olivia Colman, Jared Leto, Awkwafina, and Lizzy Caplan.
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 as 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 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 implies dusting 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 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 Blow-dry 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 tend 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 not to 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 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 ($22) or Leave-In Creme ($22) 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 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 ($16) 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 will be your new go-to.
Marc Anthony Maximum Moisture Hydra Lock Moisture Recharge Conditioner
"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
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 Mask
Use this deep conditioning mask weekly to uncover strong, moisturized hair that's resistant to both breakage and damage.
Macadamia Natural Oil Healing Oil Treatment
Reviewers boast about this vitamin-rich formula's ability to reduce hair breakage and impart a lustrous shine.
Kenra Professional Platinum Restorative Reconstructor
This concentrated treatment of keratin amino acid technology promises to reach damaged hair cuticles to provide deep hydration and improve elasticity.
Better Natured Hydrating Leave-In Milk
"A daily conditioner to use as a styling product is either the Better Natured Hydrating Milk Spray ($22) or the Better Natured Strengthening Leave-in Cream ($22)," 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
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.
How do you fix dry ends without cutting your hair?
Your dry ends can’t actually heal and repair themselves, however you can smooth the cuticle and minimize the appearance of split ends. Start by using a moisturizing shampoo and deep conditioning treatment. Before blow drying hair, add in a heat protectant cream, focusing on the ends of your hair. You can also use a serum that is made for sealing split ends, such as Oribe Split Ends Seal ($48). As you blow dry your hair, use a large round brush or flat brush to smooth your ends. If your ends still look dry and frizzy, ask your hairstylist for a “dusting,” so they just trim the split ends and leave the length intact.
What is a good DIY hair mask for dry ends?
The following Byrdie-approved hair mask will help moisturize your hair and minimize the appearance of split ends—and it only requires a banana and olive oil. Mash one ripe banana and add in one tablespoon of olive oil until the mixture looks creamy and frothy. Apply the mask to your wet hair in the shower, focusing on the ends. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and rinse out.
What is the best way to manage dry ends and oily roots?
If your ends are dry and roots are oily you need to continue moisturizing your hair, but focus the conditioner only on the hair shaft and the ends. Don’t apply conditioner to your roots as it can make your hair look more greasy. Instead, apply a volumizing mousse to the roots to add body and a dry shampoo to manage the oil.
Gavazzoni Dias MF. Hair cosmetics: an overview. Int J Trichology. 2015;7(1):2-15. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.153450