Split ends, like breakouts and wrinkles, are one of the great beauty certainties in life. Unless you have a live-in hairstylist who can tend to your needs at all times (dreams), you're almost guaranteed to find a few frayed ends to ruin your mood.
"A split end is when your hair splinters due to damage to the oldest part of the hair shaft," says hairstylist Cash Lawless, who works with celebs like Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner. If they go untreated, "split ends lead to what most people consider breakage, which is when the hair breaks at a point that makes the strand significantly shorter than the unbroken hair," he says.
But just because the splits are so common (they can also be caused by wear-and-tear or, simply, age), it doesn't mean you have to live with them. Because it's 2019, and the wonders of the world make it possible to not only prevent frayed ends, but also deal with them once they inevitably pop up.
So then what can you do? Read on to find out.
HOW TO PREVENT THEM
Trick: Brush smarter, not harder.
Surprise! Something as simple as combing your hair can cause splits if you're too aggressive. "Stop brushing your hair like you're chopping wood," Cash says. "Hair is fragile, so treat it delicately." One hack for knowing if you're being too rough with the brush is to listen to the sound is makes as it glides through your hair. If it's virtually silent, you're doing it right. If you hear a scraping or ripping sound, you're doing too much.
If silent brushing sounds like an impossible feat because of your insane knots, start from the bottom of your hair and work your way up to gently detangle, rather than trying to rip the brush from your roots to your ends. If your brush meets resistance, stop, remove it, and start a little further down.
Make sure you're using the right tools to brush your hair, too. "I recommend a metal bristled detangling brush, along with a detangler comb," Cash says. "These two products combined will significantly reduce wear and friction."
Wet Brush Pro, P899, Robinsons Department Store
Trick: Stick to the lowest heat setting.
Yes, those temperature dials on your straightener and iron really do matter. The higher the heat, the more damage it will inflict, and not everyone needs 450 degrees to get results. Cash recommends turning down the temp of your hot tool to 285 degrees and see if it'll get the job done. If not, you can slowly increase the heat until you get the results you want. "You’ll need to take smaller sections with lower heat, and it may take a bit longer, but trust me—if you can keep the heat below 350, it’s bye-bye split ends," he says.
Trick: Only work with clean hair.
"Most oils and heat don’t work well together on hair," says Cash. "If, for example, you accidentally leave conditioner in your hair, or don’t rinse it out all the way, you might be cooking your hair instead of styling it." And cooked strands = split ends. So make sure to properly wash out all excess oils and product buildup before styling your hair.
HOW TO GET RID OF THEM
Trick: Be nice to them.
You don't have to write them a love note, but you definitely shouldn't be picking, peeling, or tearing them, either. "When you snap the hair at the ends, you’re using friction to scrape the cuticle, along with force to snap the ends," says Cash about your bad habit. "When you stretch and break off the split end, you're basically laying a red carpet to welcome more split ends at even a shorter length."
Trick: Get a hair dusting.
Sadly, the only real way to get rid of split ends is to cut them off. Because once a hair is split, there's nothing that can magically fuse the pieces back together again. But if you're super anti-haircut, especially if you've been trying to grow yours out, ask your stylist to try hair dusting—a technique that removes split ends without sacrificing length. Here it is in action:
HOW TO DISGUISE THEM
Trick: Slap on some product.
So, you have split ends. Until your next haircut or dusting, the only thing you can do is conceal them with the right products. If you notice frazzled ends once you've finished styling your hair, smooth the frayed cuticle with a dab of shine serum.
Trick: Hydrate the hell out of them.
If your ends are already splitting, give them a ton of TLC with shampoos and conditioners that will proactively work against further breakage. Choose one with amino acids that help mitigate damage.
Trick: Mask. A Lot.
If you're not looking to shell out tons of money on new styling products, try an at-home mask to replenish lost nutrients in dry, damaged hair. Cash swears by coconut oil masks, which will leave hair shiny and smooth after once use. But just remember to wash the product out completely before heat styling.
And when all else fails? Chop your hair off. Just kidding! ...Kind of.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.