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How to Prevent Split Ends According to Celebrity Hairstylists — 9 Ways to Guarantee Hair Looks Healthy, Thick and Shiny

Pros share their smart tricks that say bye-bye to pesky breakage

If you’re like us, once you notice a few split ends it’s hard to unsee them — and you might go on a hunt to find even more. These pesky broken hairs can leave our tresses looking unkept, dull, lifeless and thinner to boot. And who wants that, especially when we’re already dealing with hair that can look thinner and feel weaker after we hit 50. To learn how to prevent split ends (and fix ones you already have) so you and your hair stay looking great and youthful, keep scrolling.

What causes split ends?

“Split ends are caused by a variety of factors, especially heat styling and chemical damage,” says celebrity hairstylist Bradley Leake. “But split ends can also be caused by less obvious culprits as well, like towel drying or brushing too roughly.”

Image showing a healthy hair follicle and a split ends hair follicle, after learning how to prevent split ends you can maintain healthy hair

Scott Fabian, a hairstylist at Sally Hershberger NoMad Salon in New York City, adds that things like over-drying hair, chemical processes (like highlights and keratin treatments), heat and UV exposure, over-brushing and even certain towels can contribute to split ends. That’s because all of these things weaken hair follicles, causing them to form a “split” or fray at the ends where hair is dead and already more fragile.

9 tricks for how to prevent split ends

1. Get trims frequently

Frequent trims are key for how to prevent split ends, notes Fabian. “Staying on a haircut and trim schedule is the best solution,” he says and recommends keeping up with trims every 12 weeks or so.

2. Minimize heat styling

Woman with rollers in her hair, which is one way for how to prevent split ends

Cutting down on heat styling can also be hugely preventative against split ends. Try heatless curls, like sock curls, or even blow drying with cool air, advises Leakes. “A big asset can be learning some simple updos as well — a simple bun or ponytail can easily prevent the need for hot tools.” Just be careful that the updo isn’t too tight (more on this below).

Related: Heatless Curls For Short Hair — 4 Ways To Get The Bounce Without The Burn

3. Use a deep-conditioning mask

Deep-conditioning treatments like hair masks are beneficial for infusing your hair with much-needed moisture, which can prevent your ends from splitting, says Fabian. For the best results, use a mask once a week. Two affordable hair masks we love: L’Oreal Paris Everpure Signature Mask (Buy from Amazon, $12.99) and The Body Shop Banana Truly Nourishing Hair Mask (Buy from Amazon, $15.88).

Tip: Top a hair mask with a warm towel for 10 minutes. “The heat opens hair cuticles, allowing the active ingredients in the mask to deeply penetrate strands so hair gets rehydrated from the inside out,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, a dermatologist in New York City who specializes in hair care.

4. Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase

Swapping to a silk or satin pillowcase is also a smart strategy for how to prevent split ends. How it helps: These silky materials limit friction between hair and a pillowcase so strands don’t become damaged or prone to breakage. This is unlike a cotton pillowcase, which can be abrasive against hair and cause split ends to form from the rubbing of tossing and turning throughout the night. One to try: Kitsch Satin Pillowcase (Buy from Kitsch, $14.25).

Related: The $8 Secret To Looking Younger Overnight? A Silky Pillowcase

5. Dry hair with a T-shirt

“When hair is wet, it’s weaker and softer, which makes it more prone to damage,” explains celebrity hairstylist Tara Smith. A towel’s tiny grooves can rough up the hair’s cuticle, resulting in frizz and flyaways and even causing split ends.

Instead, Smith suggests drying hair with a cotton shirt in place of a towel. “A T-shirt doesn’t rough up hair like a towel does — since it doesn’t disrupt the natural hair structure, it leaves locks smooth.” Plus, a T-shirt doesn’t absorb as much moisture as a towel does, so it leaves hair more pliable for styling. To do: Take a cotton T-shirt and slip hair through the neck opening, then wrap hair into a turban style for 15 minutes before styling. Or get the same benefits from wrapping hair in a microfiber hair towel, like Turbie Twist Microfiber Hair Towel (Buy from Target, $6.99).

6. Brush hair gently

Woman brushing her hair after learning how to prevent split ends

The way you brush your hair can also contribute to split ends so it’s best to be gentle. Also smart? “Brushing in small increments of hair while working from bottom to top prevents tension from reaching the scalp,” says hairstylist Monica Martinez-Eriksen. “This reduces pulling and damage for fuller-looking hair.”

To do: First, opt for a brush with flexible silicone bristles, like Tangle Teezer Ultimate Vented Hairbrush (Buy from Ulta, $16.99). “The malleable bristles bend with your hair with every stroke to prevent tugging,” says Martinez-Eriksen. Then, separate hair into four equal sections. Hold the first section of hair in your hand 3″ above the ends; brush the free hair below it in downward strokes until it passes through snag-free. Move your hand up another 3″ and repeat. Continue up to roots; repeat on remaining sections.

7. Avoid tight hairstyles

Tight hairstyles look great and can even give your face a bit of a lift, but they can also contribute to hair breakage and split ends. When hair is pulled tight, it puts tension on the hair shaft, which can cause strands to break or split. This is especially true for hairstyles that involve pulling or twisting the hair, like braids, cornrows and buns. These styles create friction and damage that can be amplified by securing hair with elastics.

Additionally, tight hairstyles can also make it hard for the hair to absorb moisture from the air, which can lead to dryness. And in turn, dry hair is more prone to breakage than moist hair.

8. Stay hydrated + make some diet tweaks

Another way to avoid split ends? Nourish your strands from the inside out. In other words, if your body is dehydrated, your hair will be too. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water on a daily basis (that’s half your weight in ounces). To jazz up your water, try infusing water with cucumber or try adding in naturally flavored drops, like Pure Inventions Water Infusion Drops Coconut Water (Buy from Amazon, $20.69).

Also, making some tweaks to your diet can also improve hair’s health. Adding more hydrating foods to your diet can be beneficial along with foods packed with healthy fats. One that fits the bill: Avocados. They are rich in fatty and amino acids, says Jacqueline Schaffer-Stichter, MD, holistic skincare and author of Irresistible You: Smart Solutions for Clear, Radiant, Youthful Skin. “Together, they help strengthen and moisturize stands from within.” (Click through to learn how apple cider vinegar improves hair health, too.)

9. Up your collagen intake

Collagen can help you grow stronger, healthier hair that can withstand damage. That’s because hair is made up mostly of a protein called keratin, and several amino acids necessary for keratin formation can be found in collagen. This may explain why hair grows thinner since as we age, we naturally produce less collagen. A few easy ways to increase your collagen intake are to add a collagen powder, like Vital Proteins Marine Collagen (Buy from Amazon, $29.97), to your morning cup off coffee. Or nosh on Reserveage Beauty Collagen Candy (Buy from Amazon, $22.50) or Horbaach Collagen Gummies (Buy from Amazon, $9.99).

How to repair split ends if you already have them

Both Fabian and Leakes recommend starting with a cut, as the healthiest ends are typically freshly trimmed. “Cutting the split ends off will instantly give you a clean slate to work from,” adds Leakes.

Woman getting her hair trimmed, which is one of the ways for how to prevent split ends

But if you don’t want to get a cut just yet: “Using [hair] oils and serums can definitely lay the split ends down to lessen their appearance,” says Fabian. Leakes agrees that certain products can help defend against split ends and recommends epres Bond Repair Treatment Starter Kit (Buy from Amazon, $48). He tells his clients to use this kit at least once a week, with an emphasis on saturating the areas that are subject to the most intense heat styling and breakage. “This is typically the hair around the face and the bottom half of the hair from crown down,” says Leakes. “This bond repair treatment leaves your hair both softer and stronger.” 

Is there a safe way to remove split ends yourself?

Using eyebrow scissors and gently snipping the dead ends off is an option. However, Fabian recommends seeing a professional hairstylist and getting regular haircuts a minimum of 4-5 times a year.

For a tutorial on how to snip off split ends yourself, watch the below video from @GirlLovesGlam on YouTube.

For more hair tips, click through these stories:

Hairstylists Reveal The Best Foolproof Ways to Keep Hair Straight Overnight

Dermatologist-Recommended Shampoos for Hair Loss — Discover What’s Right for You

How To Curl Hair With a Straightener: It Sounds Crazy But It Works Like a Charm

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