Split ends are a universal experience, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating. Often a consequence of dry and/or damaged hair, these occur when hair is so brittle it breaks at its ends, literally fraying or splitting into two (hence the name). These strand fractures can result in copious unwanted side effects, ranging from excess frizz to flat, limp hair to even further damage, as the rips can travel upwards towards the root and disband hair strands entirely.
First, it’s important to note that you can’t unsplit a split end; you’d have to trim them off to truly get rid of them. On the upside, you can help prevent them from happening — and there are plenty of at-home split end mender treatments available for keeping this kind of hair damage at bay. Not only will they nourish your strands, but they’ll also help reduce the appearance of the frayed ends.
Sade Williams, a hairstylist at Sally Hershberger Salon Nomad, suggests implementing moisturizing and strengthening masks into your hair care routine to prevent splitting — especially after chemical treatments. “Chemicals such as relaxers and color can weaken the hair, leaving it more prone to damage and splitting,” Williams explains. This is why it’s beneficial to treat your hair with repair masks, serums, and heat protectants formulated for mending split ends, she says. Customarily formulated with bond-bolstering ingredients like protein, peptides, and biotin, these treatment products can truly make all the difference in salvaging hair before it’s beyond repair.
Beyond using targeted treatments, you should also turn to expert-backed tricks for preserving your strands. One example? Avoid using hot tools on the bottom two inches of your hair, as heat styling is a common cause of split ends. “This technique will give a less contrived look to your hairstyle and it won't damage the ends of your hair at all,” Devin Toth, a hairstylist at Salon SCK, tells Bustle.
Ready to attack the issue? Read on for hairstylists’ go-to split-end mending treatments.
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The Bond-Bolstering Treatment
Celebrity hairstylist Marc Mena swears by the Naté Hair Masque, as its combination of aloe vera, Pacific kelp, and kaolin clay contains essential minerals that actually strengthen the bonds of the hair. Thus, this mask doesn’t just restore shine, volume, and hydration after use, but actually helps prevent future split ends down the line by strengthening your strands. (Plus, it comes with a detangling brush!)
The Heavy-Duty Heat Protectant
Ray Symons, a hairstylist at Mizu Louis Licari Salon, tells Bustle he’s a big fan of this treatment from Oribe. “I use it on fine and processed hair around the front of the hair, hairline, mid-lengths, and ends,” he says, adding that he applies it on damp and dry hair, and even uses it as a heat protectant. It uses antioxidants, vegetable protein, and amino acid-rich carob tree extract to replenish damage, leaving your hair feeling extra soft.
The Restorative Mask
Williams’ favorite split end solution is Shu Uemera’s Ultimate Reset, which is enriched with rice extract — an MVP for tackling damage and restoring shine — and is specifically formulated to condition, treat, and repair bleached, colored, and heat-styled hair. She especially recommends the product if you regularly chemically treat your hair.
The Damage-Reducing Serum
Kerastase has an entire product collection devoted to treating and maintaining the length of damaged hair, says Danny Garrity, a hairstylist at Salon SCK. One especially popular product? This strengthening serum, which is formulated with amino acids and ceramides to stimulate and protect the scalp and hair. According to Garrity, it’ll greatly reduce the appearance of split ends.
The Plant-Powered Treatment
“A great way to help prevent hair damage would be to incorporate protein into the hair regimen,” Dan Williams, hairstylist at Hair & Co BKLYN, tells Bustle, explaining that protein helps to strengthen weak and/or compromised hair. “This will make a huge difference, especially for fine hair.” Try this plant-based protein mask: Its formula includes a six-in-one damage repair complex to fix breakage, add strength, and boost shine whilst simultaneously hydrating and soothing the scalp.
The Leave-In Repair Mask
The cult-favorite K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask is another fave of Toth’s for treating split ends. “It’s clinically proven to reverse damage to your hair in four minutes, and the patented peptide technology works to repair damage from bleach, color, chemical services, and heat,” he explains. The peptide complex combined with wheat protein brings the bounce and smoothness back to your hair — and it works on all hair types and textures.
The Drugstore Staple
A slightly more affordable (yet just as powerful) option for preventing and/or treating split ends? Redken’s Extreme Length Triple Action Treatment, a mask Dan Williams recommends and consistently uses. Formulated with niacinamide, biotin, and castor oil, it’s been found to visibly reduce the appearance of split ends by 68%.
Marc Mena, celebrity hairstylist
Danny Garrity, a hairstylist at Salon SCK