How to treat your split ends between haircuts without losing any length
Alright ladies (and gents with particularly long locks), today we’re tackling the taboo. You’ve heard of the at-home dye job, you’ve even heard of the at-home bang trim—but, have you heard of the DIY maintenance haircut? Today we’re delving into the world of split end maintenance.
If you find your hair is feeling hay-like and the ends are looking a little worse for wear, you’ve probably got a case of the splits. As a result, your hair probably never grows past a certain point, your hair is always in tangled knots, and it gets thinner and thinner the longer it grows.
This is exactly why it’s important to get your split ends taken care of regularly—the longer you leave them, the more time they have to migrate further up your hair shaft and cause even more mayhem (think follicular damage).
The bad news is that unfortunately, once your hair starts to split, the only remedy is a haircut. The good news is that we do have a solution for those of you who are too lazy to head to a salon regularly (or if your stylist is a little too overzealous with the ‘just the ends’ instructions).
With two simple techniques (the split-enders, if you will), you’ll have everything you need to maintain your hair between salon visits. The twist? You don’t even have to lose any length!
Disclaimer: This isn’t a replacement for a haircut, and the results certainly won’t be perfect. However, it’s a great way to keep your hair in the best possible shape in the meantime, while prolonging the time between haircuts.
Step 1: Brush your hair through thoroughly
Detangling your hair will make it easier for you to carry this out—from sectioning to straightening to whatever else you need to get done, you’ll want to start with zero tangles to get this technique right.
Tip: If you have curly hair, we recommend that you straighten your hair before you attempt either of these techniques. It’s not necessary, but it does make the problem areas way more visible so you can deal with them more easily.
Step 2: Section your hair into four quadrants (or more!)
First, part your hair directly down the middle, and split it into two sections. Then, section the hair from ear to ear, across the top of your head (think where a headband would typically fall). Then, separate that section into two down the middle part.
Tip: This will be sufficient if your hair is on the finer side, but if you happen to have particularly thick hair, you may want to consider making more sections to make sure you’re thorough.
Step 3: Actually trim your split ends
What you need: Sharp hair scissors (using a blunt pair of paper scissors or kitchen shears will only lead to more split ends).
We're tackling two areas—your ends and your lengths.
Work on the ends of your hair
Once you have the length of your hair covered, it’s time to tackle your pesky ends. This is where you’re likely to find the highest concentration of split ends.
Keep in mind, you should only take off the very ends—leave the big cuts for your stylist. Since our agenda is to freshen the ends up and prolong the time between haircuts, remember to only cut what you absolutely need to.
Work section by section, making sure you first trim the ends, then trim the lengths (methods to follow) and only then move onto the next section. This will make sure that you’re getting every last section dusted.
When you’re cutting, make sure you’re point-cutting into the hair—this means that you’re not going to end up with a really straight line. Also, as you’ll be bringing the layers at the back of your hair to the front to cut, you will end up with a slight ‘V’ shape in the back.
This will be less obvious if you’re 1) taking less length off your hair and 2) point cutting.
Tip: If this is just too overwhelming, proceed with just trimming the lengths and go book yourself an appointment with your stylist to fix the ends.
Trim the lengths
This is the easiest part of the process—you could do this while you’re winding down for the day in front of the TV (just make sure you’re catching all the fallout!), or just while you need your brain to shut off for a bit (it's kind of meditative, TBH).
Here are a few nifty instructions to sum the whole process up (swipe for both techniques).
Method #1: Weave an inch section through your fingers
- Take an inch section of hair, weave it between the middle three fingers; under your index finger, over your middle finger and under your ring finger.
- Start as close to the top of your head as you can, then slide down the shaft of your hair and look for any split ends that poke up (trust us, they’ll be obvious)
- Slowly trim any you see (by slowly, we mean really take your time—there’s plenty of ways to mess this up so you want yo be careful)
Method #2: Take an inch section of hair and twist
- Once you’ve got them nice and twisted, run your fingers gently over the twist to reveal your split ends (Note: Do this gently! The last thing you want is to cause more breakage.)
- Snip the broken ends that poke out of the twist
Tip: Do both methods on each section of hair to be extra thorough
How to prevent split ends before they happen
To do this, you’ll want to keep your hair in the best possible condition. Here are five ways to prevent them from forming:
1) Condition and mask regularly. We probably don’t really have to explain why this helps so much, eh?
Tip: When masking up, use a shower cap or wrap a hot towel around your locks for a deeper treatment.
2) Don’t pick your split ends. It makes them worse. When you pick and pull your split ends, you’re damaging the cuticle and the core, in addition to encouraging the hair to split further up the shaft. This compromises the integrity of your hair, which leads to further breakage.
3) Don’t rub your hair when you dry it. In fact, don’t even use a towel—instead, to dry your hair, use a pure cotton t-shirt to gently squeeze out the excess water, or keep your hair wrapped up in it until all the excess water is absorbed.
4) Don’t overbrush your hair. When you brush, make sure your hair is dry (wet hair is more fragile) and gently detangle from the bottom up.
5) Don’t forget your heat protectant. Excessive heat styling is a guaranteed way to get your hair split. Using a heat protectant will ensure that your hair doesn’t suffer the consequences.
For more tips on maintaining your mane, click here.