While we all know getting regular trims is the key to keeping split ends at bay, there are plenty of things we can do in between salon visits to keep our hair healthy. And while we may have the best intentions at following proper hair care routines, daily life can get in the way, and we can end up making mistakes that are likely to increase the brittleness of our hair and our tendency toward split ends.
The first mistake (and likely the easiest to remedy) is if you’re skipping conditioner or not using a good one. Gary Chew, co-founder and director of mi the salon told Daily Vanity, “Our hair cannot be too acidic or alkaline, so hair care is important in ensuring that it does not swing to either extremes in order to maintain the optimum health of our hair.” He explained, “The people who are most prone to split ends are those that don’t maintain a good hair care routine, like not using hair conditioners or masks.”
Larry Sims, hairstylist to Gabrielle Union-Wade and Regina King, echoes this, saying the ends are “always the most unhealthy part of your hair” and “the driest part, for sure.” He recommends that for wavy, curly, or coily hair types, the vert best treatment is a hair mask/deep conditioner on wash days. The key, he says, is “moisture, moisture, moisture” (via InStyle).
Things you use you make your hair look its best could be damaging it
A catch twenty-two of hair care is that often the products and tools we use to make our hair look its best can actually be highly damaging, like straighteners or curling irons. “Don’t overuse hot tools,” Gary warns Daily Vanity. “If you want to use a hot tool, you should use a heat protectant spray.” He also warns that you should never use hot tools on wet hair, as “This would essentially fry your hair. Your hair needs to be completely dry before using any hot tools.”
“Excessive amounts of heat from blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons will cause ends to split faster,” says Sims. Instead, he says try air drying if you can, while celebrity hairstylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor has even stricter rules and says people with natural curls should only be using heat once every six months, while those with straight hair can handle the heat maybe once a month (via InStyle).
Using too many chemicals on your hair, whether in the form of dyes or straightening/perming agents can also cause brittleness. While the obvious and best solution to this is to lay off the chemicals or to choose more natural/gentle means of coloring your hair, if you are married to your dyes/other agents, or if you swim regularly in chlorine or salt water, make sure you are really loading up on the good stuff like pH-balanced shampoo and deep conditioning masks.
A proper hair care routine can help with split ends
Your hair, when healthy, has a pH of 4.5-5.5 (via GrowGorgeous.com). “Our hair cannot be too acidic or alkaline, so hair care is important in ensuring that it does not swing to either extreme in order to maintain the optimum health of our hair,” explains Gary (via Daily Vanity). Harsh ingredients in products like shampoo can really mess with that pH. Shampoo is made to remove residue, but many popular brands use harsh ingredients, like sulfates, to get the job done.
Instead, ensure the products you’re using are not only free of harsh ingredients but full of health-promoting ones. “Our hair is basically made of a protein: keratin,” explains Sims. “You really want to make sure that you’re using protein-building products to essentially saturate the hair cuticle, rebuild it, and restrengthen it, so that you are less likely to have those same sorts of hiccups in terms of split ends.” Biotin and creatine are “specifically intended to rebuild and repair the hair shaft” says Sims (via InStyle).
You can also boost the effectiveness of your conditioner by washing your hair at the beginning of the shower, and keeping the conditioner in till the end. Taylor says, “I’ll wash my hair, condition it, leave the conditioner sitting while I wash up and then I rinse it out.” She also suggests using a plastic shower cap over conditioned hair to activate the conditioner even more.
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