How to Get Rid of Split Ends Once and for All

Photo: Getty/Jessie Casson

Ugh, split ends. You can have the shiniest, silkiest hair in all the land up top, but after years of washing and styling it, the ends can wind up looking straggly and frizzy, putting a damper on your 'do. The sad part is that split ends are inevitable, and worse, irreversible. Once a strand splits, there’s really no way to completely mend it back to health, aside from cutting it off. Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent them from splitting in the first place.

To find out the very best game plan to keep split ends from happening, we caught up with celebrity hairstylist Yene Damtew (who counts Michelle Obama as one of her clients—no big deal) to get her tips on how to get rid of these pesky things once and for all. Spoiler alert: She’s into simple, old-school split end remedies, meaning there’s no fancy hair masks, lotions, or potions required. Keep on scrolling for her game plan to wave buh-bye to split ends forever. 

Treat your lengths with love

It goes without saying, but the more you treat your hair with care when washing and styling it, the less overall damage it will have. Just being mindful of how you treat your hair will create some improvement, Damtew says. 

So that means avoid over processing and coloring your hair as much as possible, and whenever you use a hot tool, make sure to use a heat protectant. You can sleep on a silk pillowcase to help decrease friction between strands and reduce breakage. And when hair is still wet, Damtew recommends detangling your hair gently with a wide tooth comb starting from the ends and combing upwards to avoid causing any damage.

Use less heat

This might be a tough tip to swallow if you’re someone who can’t live without your flat iron or curling wand, but minimizing the heat you put on your hair is a must if you’re trying to avoid split ends. Damtew advises not going higher than 275 to 325 degrees at a time, while also keeping your heat rendezvous to twice a week at most. Also, keep in mind that if you turn up the temperature on your iron, you also need to increase the size of the sections that you're working with.

To keep your hair looking good in between heat sessions, she suggests wrapping your hair up at night or just putting it up in a top knot with a hair tie to preserve the style. Another genius tip: Wrap up your hair with a silk scarf while you work out too. But, don’t unleash your lengths as soon as you jump off the treadmill. Damtew recommends keeping it wrapped until your body (and in turn your hair) cools down so you won’t end up with frizz post-workout.

Try a protein treatment

Protein deficiencies often contribute to weak strands, Damtew says hair protein treatments are a great way to strengthen your hair and help combat split ends. You can have a pro do it for you or pick up a product from your local beauty store; however, Damtew says not to go overboard with the protein treatments either, keeping them to once every six weeks. “Too much protein will cause your hair to break, too,” she explains. 

That said, not everyone needs protein in their hair. So just like everything else you read on the internet, she also recommends not buying into every single split end remedy you come across because it really depends on your hair type and texture. Consult with a pro to help you figure out the very best treatment for your particular hair type. 

Keep your hair moisturized

According to Damtew, one of the biggest causes of split ends is lack of moisture in your hair. So the key to prevention is making sure your hair is always nice and silky. If you have tighter curls, this is especially important because curls can be drier and more susceptible to getting split ends. The good news is that you don’t need to drop your entire paycheck at Sephora stocking up on all the fancy split end treatments on the market (unless you want to, of course). All you need is some good old conditioner.

To make it extra nourishing, Damtew recommends adding a little olive oil or castor oil to your conditioner and heating it up in the microwave for a few seconds before you put it in your hair. “It’s going to seal those cuticles back down and lock the moisture in,” she explains.

Get regular trims

Alas, the best and most effective split end remedy is to make sure you’re getting trims on the regular. That’s the only way to literally nip (or in this case, snip) the problem in the bud.

Damtew says every six to eight weeks is a good measuring stick. If you’re someone who puts their trims off until later (guilty), it can actually make the problem so much worse. The split ends will continue to split higher and higher up the hair shaft (which reminder: isn't reversible) so make sure to snip those off and say buh-bye to split ends forever.

BTW, here's how often you should be getting a trim if you're growing out your hair and this is why you should deep condition your hair while you're working out.

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