Damage Control

How to Prevent or Treat Hair Breakage and Split Ends

Who isn’t upset by the look of dry, frayed, singed hair? I get many questions from my clients on how to deal with hair breakage and split ends. These are very common conditions, but you can keep them to a minimum with the proper care and treatment.

Damage Defined

Breakage and split ends, while different, both contribute to that fuzzy, “fried” look of hair. Normal breakage occurs anywhere from the root to the midshaft and is caused primarily by a lack of keratin, a protective protein that makes up your hair, skin, and nails.  (Breakage can also be caused by medical conditions including over-or under-active thyroid, heavy medications, and stress and should be addressed by your physician.)

Split ends happen at the ends of older hair and are commonly caused by over-shampooing, lack of conditioning, and rough towel drying.

The good news is there are a few simple home hair care practices that can help you prevent or treat this kind of damage.

  • Handle your hair gently ~ Blot your hair dry, rather than rubbing with a towel. Rubbing can cause breakage and damage hair cuticles. Even better, use a microfiber towel that is extremely soft on hair and dries it faster.
  • Detangle with care ~ Use a high-quality, wide-tooth comb. Higher-priced combs have very polished teeth that glide through and separate the hair. One of my clients raves about her detangling comb with tapering rounded teeth from Mason Pearson. If you have typically “snarly” hair (curly girls, are you listening?), start detangling from the bottom up until your comb glides through from top to bottom. And just about every hair care line offers a detangling product. We use Oribe’s Run Through Detangling Primer.
  • Keep hair moisturized ~ Dry hair is weak hair, more prone to breakage and splits. I recommend using a hair mask at least once per week for the two weeks following color or other treatments. Then, once every two weeks will suffice until your next service. I get great results from the Kerastase line of hair masks. Coat your hair lightly with the product your stylist recommends and let it sit for 20 minutes under a shower cap. The cap contains the heat from your scalp to accelerate absorption.  Overnight conditioners also work wonders. Kerastase’s 8H Magic Night Hair Serum really hydrates hair shafts. I call it beauty sleep for your hair.
  • Turn down the heat ~ If your hair is showing signs of breakage and splits, air dry and condition until your hair has a chance to recuperate. When using heat tools, it’s super-important to purchase the highest quality tools within your budget. They do way less damage than less-expensive models, so you “get what you pay for.” Also, keep the tools moving. Never hold the flat- or curling-iron in one place for long or they will burn your hair. And, as I have mentioned in past posts, absolutely use a thermo-protectant product recommended by your stylist for your type of hair before every heat application. We like the Thermique products by Kerastase.
  • Use a quality hairbrush ~ Lesser-quality drugstore brushes can rip at hair. Invest in a high-quality brush and take good care of it. The Rolls-Royce of all brushes is again made by Mason Pearson. They use boar bristles and fine synthetics that glide through the hair, distributing the natural oils secreted by the scalp, exfoliating weakened or dead hair, and building sheen. It’s definitely an investment but one that will last a lifetime.
  • Use a silk or satin pillowcase ~ Cotton or linen pillowcases have more “tooth” than a silky fabric and can snag and break hair shafts, especially if you move around a lot while sleeping. Satin fabrics allow the hair to glide across the surface of your pillow without friction.
  • Spread out your services ~ Schedule any chemical-based hair processes in separate appointments, at least a few weeks apart, to minimize the amount of stress on your hair. And be sure to approach any “high lift” treatments knowing that you will need to make color changes gradually throughout a series of appointments. Follow every process with a nutritive conditioner or your recommended hair mask.

Once you develop split ends, the fastest remedy is to trim them off.

Regular trims every 4 – 6 weeks will ensure that your hair health is at its best and keep your style sharp and manicured.

I once again thank you for being part of our HairLine community. The feedback I get from my clients is most gratifying and full of great suggestions for future topics. Please keep your ideas coming here.