Split ends may technically be harmless, but they are very annoying. No matter how much smoothing serum you use, too many split ends can make hair look unhealthy—which is why it’s almost always suggested to get rid of them via a haircut. But if you feel like split ends sneak up on you too quickly, there are certain practices and hair treatments that can protect against breakage and prolong healthy ends. We asked celebrity hairstylist Orlando Pita, and Ryan Trygstad, co-owner of Mark Ryan Salon, for their expert tips on all things split ends—read on for their recommendations, then get thee to your stylist.
Related article: Irene Kim Reveals The Secrets Behind Her Technicolour Hair
Can You Prevent Split Ends?
Not really. “It’s impossible to prevent split ends altogether, but the best way to try and prevent them is to keep your hair moisturized and in good shape,” explains Pita. Some factors increase your likelihood of getting split ends: “If you style your hair frequently and use heat on your hair, it’s inevitable that you are going to get split ends,” says the stylist.
By that same token, Ryan says you can help prevent them with a little extra TLC. “Split ends can be prevented by integrating mindfulness into your routine—being mindful and gentle when brushing and detangling the hair,” he says. “Also, you can prevent split ends by reducing thermal styling or pulling back from bleach or colour.”
Pita adds that another factor is length. “The hair also splits naturally once it reaches a certain length,” says the stylist. “I had long hair most of my life and once my hair reached a certain length, it wouldn’t grow anymore. At that point, I would get split ends even though I never applied heat to my hair.”
Can You Get Rid of Existing Split Ends?
Unfortunately, “There is no way to mend split ends,” says Ryan. “However, certain styling products like masks, protectant sprays, et cetera, will seal them and prevent them from splitting further.”
Like a bad habit, the best thing you can do for split ends is to cut them off. However, as Pita points out, “The problem with split ends is that some people’s hair breaks higher in the hair, so it’s not just the ends of the hair. It’s harder to get those pieces higher on the head just by cutting the ends.” In those cases, says the stylist, “I will go back in with my razor and skim each section of hair to cut off the breakage that’s higher on the head, but that is a tedious process.”
How Often Should You Trim Your Hair to Avoid Split Ends?
Ryan recommends that clients get a trim once a season, or every two to three months. But Pita adds that there are some variables: “Everyone’s hair grows differently, at different speeds and not everyone styles their hair or uses heat on their hair.” If you’re unsure whether you’re due for a trim, Pita says to just take a look at your end. “It’s easy to tell if you have split ends—you can see them, and your hair will tangle at the ends. That is when you need to get them cut,” says the stylist.
Can You Hide Split Ends?
You may not be able to get rid of them entirely, but you can smooth out their appearance. “Finishing products like hair oil are great for sealing the split ends and reducing the appearance of damaged mid-lengths and ends,” says Ryan. Adds Pita, “You can temporarily camouflage them with a product like Orlando Pita Play Strong Bond Split End Sealant. It contains an exclusive Shielding Complex to form a barrier that protects hair from damage and static for a smooth, refined finish.”
What Products Help Prevent Split Ends?
Think moisture, moisture, moisture. “Split ends come from dryness, over-processing, and too much styling, so you’ll want to look for products that replenish and nourish your hair,” says Pita.
Related article: The Best Under-Eye Concealers of All Time
Best Hair Products For Split Ends
“Thermal protectants are key,” says Ryan, who says Royal Treatment by Oribe is a favourite at Mark Ryan Salon.
“Shu Uemura has the ultimate reset duo serum that is a beautiful polishing product for the ends,” says Ryan. “It contains both a cream and an oil that hydrates and conditions split ends.”
“It’s designed for over-processed hair so it’s meant to nourish hair that’s been depleted over time. It features vital nutrients such as lipids and proteins—all the things that make hair healthy,” says Pita.
Although using a silk pillowcase and microfiber towel alone won’t save your ends, it certainly won’t hurt. “You will always need to care for your hair with more than just a fabric,” says Pita. “But if you have split ends, adding these items to your routine can help smooth them, not irritate them, or make them worse.”
“I am a huge advocate of Slip’s silk pillowcases and scrunchies,” says Ryan. “Again, it’s all about being gentle and careful with your hair at every step of your routine.”
Using a gentle hair brush, such as the Wet Brush, on wet hair is another way to avoid further damage to ends.
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.