How to Prevent Split Ends
Split ends typically start quite small (sometimes not even detectable to the human eye), but, if left unchecked, can travel up the hair shaft, weakening your strands and causing widespread breakage. To keep that from happening, heed these tips to minimize the risk of splits starting in the first place—or, if they’re already there, from spreading.
Look for Protein-Rich Ingredients
Coloring your hair (something two-thirds of us do) removes strengthening protein from the hair, leaving strands weaker and more apt to split. The simple solution: Replenish lost nutrients by applying a protein-rich strengthening mask to your hair once every two weeks, concentrating application on your ends. Prose formulas for colored hair are often laced with silk proteins to fortify hair that’s been weakened by frequent chemical processing.
Improve hair elasticity
Chronically parched hair (from coloring, regular heat styling, or even very dry weather) can make your mane brittle and more likely to split. Applying a leave-in conditioner on the regular will infuse much-needed hydration into your hair—and improve its stretch-ability so it’s less prone to snap or fray at the ends.
Beware of your outerwear
Scarves, jackets with hoods, or tops with zippers, snaps or Velcro closures can all cause split ends by rubbing, grabbing and tearing at your hair. To minimize the risk when you bundle up, consider wearing your hair up in a ponytail, braid or bun—or tucking it safely inside a hat.
Protect hair from styling habits
Heat from blow-drying or using a hot tool like a curling or flat iron can cause the hair’s outer layer (known as the cuticle) to lift, allowing moisture to escape and causing hair to become brittle. As we outlined in “Improve Elasticity,” above, dry hair is more likely to split so adding extra hydration to your regimen is important. Also key? Preventing moisture loss in the first place. Applying a heat protectant product prior to blow-drying or ironing wraps your hair’s cuticle layer in a thin shield that prevents frying and minimizes that dreaded moisture leak. Prose products formulated for clients who heat style are typically infused with a heat-protectant cocktail comprised of wheat and soy amino acids and arginine.
Handle with care
Treat your hair as you might silk lingerie: gently. When you’re towel-drying after a shower, gently squeeze-dry the ends; don’t scrub back and forth over your scalp, which can abrade damp hair and trigger splits. The same easy-does-it strategy should apply to combing, too: Use a wide-tooth comb on wet hair and detangle from the ends, moving up to the roots. Finally, consider turning down the water temperature when you wash. Very hot water opens the hair’s outer cuticle and allows moisture and color to escape. Go as cold as you can stand (lukewarm works) and finish with a brisk cold-water rinse to reseal the cuticle layer.
Snip or seal them shut
If and when you do start to notice some split ends, consider making a salon appointment stat. The best way to get rid of splits—and keep them from spreading—is, to snip them off. Following a regimen of trimming every eight to twelve weeks works for most, though if you heat style often or bleach your hair, you may need to see your stylist more often than that. Can’t make it to the salon right away? Pinch the ends of your hair with a tiny amount of oil or styling serum to make the splitting less noticeable and to keep your ends from fracturing any further.
The best split-end prevention? Investing in the right care for your hair. Get started here.