When it comes to hair, there’s one great equalizer: “Whether you have long or short hair, everyone tends to deal with split ends,” says hairstylist Rodney Cutler. So what’s a girl to do if she wants to win the lifelong battle of the brittles? Try these tips (and great new products) to prevent, treat, seal and hide those little divided strands.
Wrap wisely: Rather than using a towel, wrap a soft old T-shirt around wet hair to absorb excess water. “The gentlest way to dry hair without rubbing or frizzing is to squeeze water out while still in the shower,” says hairstylist Tippi Porter. "Then use very soft fabric to continue squeezing out more moisture once you come out." And it goes without saying that you should never wring or twist fragile wet strands.
Protect yourself: To avoid split ends, always apply a heat protection product before using any heat tools. “Look for something with a combo of protein, which strengthens hair and adds moisture,” Cutler says. Try: Kérastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique.
Choose a gentler elastic: Instead of reaching for a band that pulls and breaks hair, use one with a hook on either side. And never use an elastic in wet hair, which causes tresses to snap even easier. Try: Hair Bungees.
Pick the cream of the crop: Treat strands to a creamy conditioner that temporarily binds split ends and hydrates to prevent future breakage. Apply the conditioner after washing hair and use a wide-tooth comb to gently distribute through lengths. Rinse it out after a few minutes. Try: Nexxus Pro-Mend Split End Binding Daily Conditioner.
Seal the cracks: Apply a shine-enhancing oil with repairing benefits to smoothen either towel-dried or dry hair and seal tips. Try: Redken All Soft Argan-6 Oil, which contains omega-6 fatty acids to intensely nourish dry, brittle hair.
Lighten up: For fine hair that can’t afford to be weighed down with heavier oils and silicones but still needs some split-end smoothing, try a weightless, dry oil. L’Oréal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Multi-Restorative Dry Oil instantly absorbs into hair, fusing strands without leaving behind residue.
Condition the coarse: Thicker, coarser hair will love oils, like those derived from babassu and carob seed, for their deep-conditioning properties and their ability to bind fraying hairs together (and keep them that way until the next shampooing). Apply a small amount to both wet and dry hair for the best results. Try: Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Split End Sealer.
Conceal them with curls: Since split ends are easier to notice on stick-straight manes, Cutler recommends using a large barrel curling iron to curl the ends under after blow-drying strands straight. Rolling the hair will quickly hide the torn tips.
Nix the sharp cuts: If your mane is already damaged, don’t go for razor cutting or texturizing. “If your hair is prone to split ends, go for a clean, blunt cut,” Porter says. “Rough chops will just shatter your ends.”
Maintenance is key: It's imperative to regularly visit the salon. “Serums and oils are for masking the split ends, but they don't repair them,” Cutler says. “If you don't cut your split ends, they can run up the hair shaft like a rip in a stocking.”
Photo: Getty Images