For many, split ends are the only obstacle in the way of long, lustrous hair. If hair grows half an inch per month (at best), it’s hard to reach your desired length when you have to keep cutting back breakage. What’s the fun in long (or medium-length) hair if the ends are dry and stiff? A few styling tricks can help disguise damaged ends, but truly bouncy, healthy hair can impress on its own.
Genetics play a large role in the texture and strength of our hair, but there are several things you can do to optimize you hair’s health and beauty—and prevent as many dreaded split ends as possible!
1. Beautiful hair begins inside, and eating a whole foods, plant-based diet is the best place to start. Remember your long hair is not essential to survival. If you’re getting a limited amount of nutrients in your diet, the last place they’ll go is your hair! By filling your plate with nutrient- and enzyme-dense foods, you’re simultaneously cleansing and nourishing your entire body.
B vitamins, sulfur, copper, and silicon are especially important for strong strands. And stronger strands mean fewer split ends!
Try munching on raw pumpkin seeds (high in biotin and essential fatty acids) and sprinkling nutritional yeast on your salads (hello, B vitamins!). Finally, stay hydrated! If you’re feeling bored with water, check out our favorite caffeine-free beauty teas.
2. Take care in the shower. I get it—it’s hot outside, you’re loving your new workout routine (and working up a sweat in the process), and a daily shampooing just sounds so refreshing.
Avoiding over-washing hair is critical for split-end prevention, however. As discussed in more detail here, it’s better to allow the natural oils in on your scalp to nourish your strands and only shampoo every other day (at most). You’ll be surprised how this improves the oil balance of your scalp!
While you’re at it, use a sulfate-free shampoo to avoid further stripping your hair of moisture. If your tend to have an oily scalp, you may want to skip putting conditioner everywhere and focus only on your ends. To maximize conditioner’s effectiveness, I squeeze out excess water from my ends, apply conditioner, and clip my hair back in a bun so all of the nice oils have time to sink in. Rinse conditioner after five minutes.
3. Moisturize your hair daily. Even if you aren’t washing your hair everyday, I encourage you to run leave-in conditioner through your hair nightly. This is a little step that can easily be worked into your bedtime routine, and it’s a nice way to pamper yourself. Depending on the condition of your hair and the season, you may opt for a light or heavy conditioner.
John Masters Haircare Citrus and Neroli Detangler is a great option if you want something light that won’t weight your hair down. This water-based leave-in relies on wheat amino-acids to improve shine and “comb through” (read: less breakage).
Intelligent Nutrients Hair Shine does double duty as frizz-taming serum and hair care wonder. It’s a little heavier and may be more suited to those with drier, coarser hair. Rich-smelling essential oils make this treatment a joy to use.
4. Deep condition weekly. I admit to skipping this essential step too often—even though it’s so easy. All you need is an organic oil (like coconut, argan, or olive oil). Massage it through damp or dry hair and let it sit for 10-20 minutes then shampoo as normal. Coconut oil is a lighter oil good for those with a naturally oily scalp while heavier argan and olive oil are better for dry, coarse hair.
5. Get a trim regularly. This may sound a bit counterintuitive, but frequent trims mean longer hair (eventually!). Damaged hair will only get worse (and look work) if it isn’t well maintained. Depending on you hair cut, you will want to get a trim every 2 to 3 months. By 2½ months, my ends are ready!
6. Be gentle with heat styling. This may mean embracing your natural texture (most days). I prefer my hair curled, but I try to limit myself to one session with the curling iron per week. Much more than that would undo the care I take to keep my ends moisturized. I’ve found other ways to get a little wave in my hair, like clipping it in a loose bun while it dries.
What are your healthy hair tips?
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Photos: Mary Hood