Split ends are annoying—not only do they make your hair look unkempt, but if they’re left to their own devices, they travel up the hair shaft, meaning next time you visit the hairdresser’s for a trim, you could well leave with a much shorter haircut than you’d bargained for.
I am obsessive about split ends. Despite going to the hairdresser’s being very much a part of my job, I don’t have my hair cut more than once a year. There are two reasons: first, because I like my hair long, and second, because I have a fear of scissor-happy hairdressers. I like to leave the salon without anyone knowing I’ve had my hair cut.
I called on two hair experts to help you avoid the curse of the split ends (and stop them from getting worse if you do happen to have them). Because you should never have to get your hair cut if you don’t want to.
Know Your Split-End Trigger
There are three main causes for split ends, says Syd Hayes, L’Oréal Paris’s hair ambassador. “Thermal split ends are where the hair is damaged from the use of straighteners or curling irons. Chemical split ends are caused by damage from excess colour or perming, and lastly, mechanical split ends arise when you comb or brush your hair too vigorously.” Identifying the likely cause of your split ends can help you avoid them in the first place.
Condition, Condition, Condition
“Generally, split ends start if you’re not protecting your hair or not conditioning it properly,” explains Paula Halsey, Phyto’s education manager. “I recommend using a treatment mask on your hair at least once a week.” Vigorous shampooing doesn’t help either. Try to work shampoo into the scalp area only—when you rinse your hair through, the shampoo will travel down the midlengths and ends, taking dirt and/or pollutants with it. If your hair is already damaged, you can protect the ends by sealing them with a little coconut oil before shampooing. Then always use a conditioner.
Use light brush strokes
Don’t attack your hair with your brush no matter how tangled it may be. “Be careful when you brush your hair—don’t brush it from the roots to the tips,” says Halsey. “Instead, work your way up from the bottom gently, so you’re not putting too much pressure on the hair.”
Take care with wet hair
“How you treat your hair when it’s wet is key,” says Halsey. “Hair that’s in good condition should have the ability to stretch and then return to its original state. You need to gently pat your hair with a towel, rather than rubbing it dry.”
Look to products containing keratin (the fibrous protein that makes up your hair) and silk peptides that will protect and strengthen your hair. “Phyto’s Phytokeratine Repairing Serum acts like an Elastoplast on damaged hair. The problem is that you often see people with split hair at the ends, but if you look further up, you may have an area where the hair is blistered out—almost fractured—as well, and that’s where the hair’s going to break,” explains Halsey.
Protect against the sun's harsh rays
“Always use a UV heat protector like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Colour Protect Spray (£5),” suggests Hayes. “It’s lightweight but will help detangle and protect those ends.”
Seal split ends
“Split ends are very frustrating,” says Hayes. “Unfortunately you can’t repair split ends.” If you want to put off a trip to the hairdresser’s, look to products that you apply daily to damp or dry hair to seal off the split ends until you wash your hair again. Shop below for our favourite formulas.