Suffering with split ends can seem like a never ending nightmare, especially if you're trying to grow your tresses. However, there are a ton of products aimed at fixing this annoying issue. That being said, can you really treat split ends? IMO, products that claim to treat split ends seem too good to be true. Once the damage is done, you can't turn back time. Unless of course you have a Time-Turner.
"Similar to skin, hair is made up of layers," explains Honey Artists hairstylist Corey Tuttle, in an email to Bustle. "The outer layer, or cuticle," he elaborates, "consists of dead cells lying on top of one another like tiles on a roof. This protects the middle layer, or cortex, which is composed of long, coiled proteins, that make up the bulk of the hair. A split end occurs when the protective cuticle is worn away on the tip of a strand, allowing the fibers of the cortex to unravel and the hair to split lengthwise."
"My best analogy of a split end is very similar to a rope," says Steven DeCarlo, Senior Stylist at Mizu New York, over email, "a rope is made up of smaller ropes twisted together. Once the rope starts to come apart at one end, then the rope itself starts to break and get thinner. It's the same thing for a hair strand."
So when the damage has occurred, can you really treat split ends?
"I’m sorry but once hair is split, it is split," says Chelle Neff, owner of Urban Betty Salon, in an email to Bustle. "I have never come across any product that could magically glue a split end back together. Cutting off split ends works the best and by doing that you are helping to prevent the hair from further breaking up the hair shaft and causing even more problems and breakage," she adds.
"There is no way to repair split ends after the split except to cut them off!" Says Honey Artists hairstylist Amy Farid, over email, "Even then, you are still going to have them somewhere on your head if you use bleach and hot tools on your mane. Think of split ends as a friendly reminder to get your hair trimmed."
Honey Artists hairstylist Nathan Rosenkranz, explains in an email to Bustle, "The thing with split ends is that if you don't take care of them, i.e. trimming them off, they will keep splitting up the shaft of the hair."
It appears the general consensus is, once your hair is split, there's nothing that can save it aside from lopping it off.
However, there are some measures you can take to ensure you nip split ends in the bud before they begin. "The next step after cutting them off is to help prevent them from coming back. Here are a few steps to help you with that: Get your hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks, use a hydrating conditioner every time you condition, use a weekly masque for intensive conditioning, and use a leave in protein and heat protectant before styling your hair," Neff advises.
"There are plenty of things that you can do to stave off split ends," says Brian Zinno, Senior Education Director at Antonio Prieto Salon, over email, "for instance, while your hair is soaking wet, it is at it's most fragile because of how elastic hair is when it's wet. If you roughly pick and comb through your hair it will stretch, snap, and split. The better solution is to blow dry the hair to get rid of excess moisture, mist the hair with a detangler, and (using either a wide tooth comb or Mason Pearson brush) start at the very ends and work your way up."
Frizz Ease Daily Nourishment Leave-In Conditioning Spray, $6.99, ulta.com
"Satin sheets work amazingly to keep your fragile ends protected when you sleep, because it won't rob your hair of its natural moisture and oil as much as cotton would," recommends Honey Artists hairstylist Daven Mayeda, in an email to Bustle.
"Try using John Frieda's Frizz Ease Daily Nourishment Leave-In Conditioning Spray to nourish your tips," Mayeda elaborates, "it's great for all types of hair and can really make a difference."
Kerastase Resistance Fibre Architecte Erosion Level [1-2] 1.01 Ounce, $29.49, amazon.com
When it comes to heated hair tools, be cautious if you have split ends. Mayeda says, "Keep the iron use to a minimum, preferably a couple times a week." He also recommends air drying your hair instead of reaching for your blow dryer.
"If you're addicted to your flat iron or curling iron," says Zinno, "I would suggest using Kerastase Fibre Architecte. This is a duo serum for damaged, split ends. It's applied on dry hair before using a heat tool. It helps to seal and heal the strand. It's a temporary quick fix."
At the end of the day, there's only one way to treat split ends. As Tuttle sums it up, "The only way to treat split ends is to snip it off, and you should do it before it splits up the hair shaft, damaging your hair even more."
It's time to face the music and book yourself in for a trim! In the meantime, please don't shoot the messenger.