Our hair can be a constant battle. We try to let it grow long and strong, but know we need frequent trims to keep it healthy. We want fun curls or sleek locks, yet are aware of the fact that excessive heat tools can create damage. It’s a often a struggle to choose between beautiful right-now hair and healthy long-term hair, and one of the fringe results (no pun intended!) can be annoying split ends.
In order to avoid or repair split ends, it is important to understand what they are and the main cause, says Starr Arias, cosmetologist and instructor at Ogle Schools. The hair follicle is comprised of three layers: cuticle, cortex and the medulla. The outermost is the cuticle which provides a barrier and protection. This is the part of the hair that reflects light to give healthy hair it’s luster and silky feel. The cuticle is where damage usually occurs. The second layer is the cortex composed of protein giving the hair it’s pigment and elasticity. This layer is only affected by chemicals or extreme heat.
An ounce of prevention:
The best thing you can do to prevent split ends is to get regular haircuts/trims – if you don’t, the ends will continue to split up the hair shaft, says Stephanie Bruno, a hair stylist at Suede Salon Spa and Body in New Jersey. For shorter hair, it’s recommended to get a trim every 4-6 weeks; for medium-long hair, get a trim every 8-12 weeks to prevent split ends.
Deep conditioning treatments are great because they hydrate your ends: Most salons offer deep conditioning treatments (they only take approximately 15-20 minutes), but if you don’t have time to visit the salon, deep conditioning shampoo and conditioners can be used daily at-home. You should also apply a leave-in hair mask once a week (another easy, at-home method to nourish your hair). Using a leave in conditioner will help seal the ends down and protect them from everyday wear and tear.
Try to reduce using high-powered blow dryers and hot tools as they can damage hair’s protective outer layer. By using high-powered blow dryers and hot tools this will cause split ends, says dermatologist Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael. When straightening or curling your hair, use a heat protecting spray; these are designed to keep your hair healthy when applying high temperatures on your hair.
A pound of cure:
There are many hair products that can help mend the hair damage and split ends that already exist. Look for shampoos that are sulfate-free and conditioners with protein, and conditioners with protein penetrate the hair shaft and repair the split ends. This will last until the next shampoo and conditioner and would need to be used regularly for your regimen, says Dele-Michael.