What can I do with my Dry, Split ends?

I get asked questions about dry and split ends so often. “My hair is so dry at the ends, it’s like straw. Nothing I do helps!” or “I’ve tried everything to mend my split ends but they just won’t go away.” I have three words for you if you are suffering with rubbish hair ends, and they are:


There is no point hanging on to dead, damaged hair. It’s fruitless. Yes, your hair will “look longer” but it will also “look like part of a hedge”. Cut off the ends, up to where they start becoming straggly and split and enjoy your nice new shiny, swishy hair. You have to trust me on this one; I’m a model. My hair has seen every type of torturous appliance and experienced every kind of chemical. It has been backcombed by first-year hairdressing students and bleached by international colour “experts”. There is only one way of mending broken hair, and that goes like this: chop-choppety-chop-chop…chop-chop.

There are serums and magic potions that can help the appearance of split ends or add shine to dry, lifeless hair – most of these contain silicones to smooth over the surface. They’re a good short-term fix until you can get to a hairdresser; I think that the  KMS one is really nice. (At FeelUnique here.) If your ends are a little dry and split but not anything too drastic, then there are some nice masks out there to give your hair a weekly treat. Some of my faves are the SEAH Cashmere Mask, the Goldwell 60 Second repair (least expensive) and Joico’s K-Pak.

Hope that helps.

(On a sidenote: some of you might be saying, “but my split ends and dryness goes all the way up to the top! I can’t cut it ALL off!” That’s a fair point. But you have to still cut some off. Cut a bit off and have a long, hard look at the way you’re treating your hair. Are you bleaching it every few weeks? Are you using heated appliances every day? Re-evaluate and change your hair routine; keep trimming regularly until your hair starts to look shiny and well-conditioned. It might take a year or so, but it’s worth it in the end!)

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  1. kristin
    September 5, 2012 / 6:57 am

    Ok, so I have a few split ends, but my hair suffers moreso from dead ends… That is to say, I think my hair experiences a much higher than average level of breakage (sometimes quite high up the hair shaft) resulting in damaged/tattered/frayed ends. What have you found is the most effective way to combat breakage. Oh yeah, and what makes this truly puzzling is that I don’t color my hair and only heat style it once or twice per month.

  2. September 5, 2012 / 7:09 am

    Ahh! I feel so much better about my short, short hair now! :) Good luck with your “paper”!

  3. September 5, 2012 / 7:37 am

    AMEN. That’s what I keep telling people and even hairdressers trying to sell me expensive repair stuff: hair is a dead thing, it doesn’t recover/repair itself, when it’s damaged, you need to cut it off.

  4. Lisi
    September 5, 2012 / 8:07 am

    Good point! Split ends have to be cut off and as soon as possible. However, finding the right hairdress is still a problem hence, the need for split end fixes :-/
    I’ve been meaning to try Joico products for a while now but quite happy with Shu Uemura’s.

    p.s. You put on an afro in a post about dry hair and split ends. It might appear to mock those with such hair.

    • Ruth
      September 5, 2012 / 2:53 pm

      I didn’t put on an afro, that’s my hair!! Backcombed and curled to its limits. It’s supposed to illustrate damage. x

      • ZenGarden
        September 5, 2012 / 8:06 pm

        no way!! x

      • Liz
        September 6, 2012 / 11:58 pm

        That awkward moment where we’re suddenly NOT all jealous of your job for once, haha xx

        • ZenGarden
          September 11, 2012 / 10:12 pm

          …and still your hair bounces back!

      • lisi
        September 11, 2012 / 9:06 am

        Backcombing and curling?!?!?!
        That’s a lot and would definitely cause damage. It would be worth a try since I would love an afro but the damage it would cause seems like a lot.

  5. Rachel
    September 5, 2012 / 9:03 am

    I second that! Chop it!

    I’d add checking your water in your shower/bath to see if that’s making your hair look and feel like it needs a cut. I live in London and have very hard water. But a shower filter made a huge difference. You can quickly tell if that’s what is making your hair look/feel like it needs a cut by washing it with water from a water bottle and seeing if that makes a difference. If it does, get a filter. I swear I don’t own stock in water filters!

    • Ruth
      September 5, 2012 / 2:52 pm

      Never tried this! xx

  6. September 5, 2012 / 9:20 am

    Great advice, I really don’t understand why people are afraid of hair cuts, as you can’t repair damage you can only mask it. I have a hair cut every 7-8 weeks as I have a short style. I do colour it but I treat it well between hair cuts so have little damage :)

  7. Aurora
    September 5, 2012 / 10:30 am

    I suffered from split end denial for years, wish someone had yelled this lot at me!! i did the whole…..if i put this magic serum on them they will stick back together and my hair will be long…..nope! lol just resulted in my hair never growing a inch for years.

    Love your blog! you are so down to earth which is hard to find on beauty blogs on the internet!! keep it up pleeeease :) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Ruth
      September 5, 2012 / 2:52 pm

      Thanks! xx

  8. Anna G.
    September 5, 2012 / 11:28 am

    Ruth that picture is hilarious!Yet you still manage to look good!You should be a model! :P (I know it’s getting old,it’s getting ridiculous,it’s getting annoying…I’m a sucker for annoying jokes :s).
    Anyway,the scissors are in fact the only cure for split ends.The only actual cure at least. Aside from that I’ve decided I’m never cutting mine off ever again.No hairdresser seems to understand the concept of the inch these days…I don’t even have that bad of a split end case going on.My hair is naturally curly and unmanageable so I don’t blow dry,straighten,dye or use anything apart from hair cream.But the moment I decide to get them cut I find myself missing half my hairs…Literally!They’re not even long enough to plaid anymore!No more hairdressing for me…For a year at least;)

    • Ruth
      September 6, 2012 / 10:26 pm

      Yes, they are all far too scissor happy! x

  9. Joanna
    September 5, 2012 / 12:58 pm

    Great advice Ruth! My aunt is a hairdresser and she’s always been telling me the exact same thing!

    Luckily I’ve never had serious issues with split ends but since I’m having highlights every 2-3 months, I’m trying to use a good mask once a week. I was using Joico’s K-pak but my new hairdresser (I’ve recently move to London so had to change) suggested Kerastase nutritive masquintense. Have you tried it? I just wanted a second opinion :)

    • Ruth
      September 5, 2012 / 2:51 pm

      Yes, a long time ago. I’m not sure I liked it that much, I’m trying to remember why I didn’t repurchase.. x

  10. Jamie
    September 5, 2012 / 1:13 pm

    ha! it’s true! it amazes me that so many hang on to dried out, frazzled (word?) ends for the sake of having long hair. there’s only one way to get rid of split ends.

    • Ruth
      September 5, 2012 / 2:50 pm

      What an interesting piece, I hadn’t seen that, thanks so much! x

  11. jasmine
    September 5, 2012 / 2:24 pm

    hey ruth, i’m so glad you mentioned joico’s k-pak treatment, i love it! have you tried joicos moisture conditioner? it’s amazing for dry damaged hair x

    • Ruth
      September 5, 2012 / 2:46 pm

      No, not yet! x

  12. Jennifer
    September 5, 2012 / 2:35 pm

    Thank you, thank you, for saying “cut them off!!” As soon as I saw the heading for this post, I thought to myself, ‘cut them off!’ As you said, it’s really the only solution to split ends! I saw a woman the other day at the market who had the most heinous split ends I’ve probably ever seen, and I swear it took everything in me to resist grabbing a hold of her mane and lopping them off myself, lol (I’d never actually DO something like that… but I’m telling you, the urge was so strong, haha!)

    • Ruth
      September 5, 2012 / 2:46 pm

      Haha! You’d get arrested! x

  13. Cat
    September 5, 2012 / 4:21 pm

    I have sworn by Wen for over a year now…it has saved my hair from all the horrible things I’ve done to it. Last year an attempt at a darker blonde (who knew Ash meant grey-green?) went SOOOO wrong and I immediately, whilst in my panic, bleached out the foul color) which suceeded in turning my hair to crisp rather than pulling out the greenish grey color. I was then told to scrub my hair in baby shampoo mixed with baking soda…which did even more damage..many thought I would have stubble left after the breaking was done. I sat in Wen, babied it in Wen, and I lost only the fried ends of about an inch. It was back to my blonde in 4 days time. I don’t know what “flavors” it is available in the UK in but it is fantastic stuff. I tried a “gentle” rice based shampoo a couple weeks ago…mainly because it smells nice and I paid a fortune for it…and I couldn’t get it out fast enough and soaked my Wen in…shampoo is so stripping and horrible…I can never go back.

    • Ruth
      September 6, 2012 / 10:25 pm

      Great, thanks Cat. I’ll look into this. ACTUALLY, I just spotted that I have a conditioner from them on my desk!!!! x

  14. judelovesthis
    September 5, 2012 / 7:07 pm

    Amen sista! I spent years trying to hang onto my over bleached hair just so I could feel satified I was in the Long Hair Brigade. In my head I had luminous, shiny, bouncy Gisele type locks but the reality was dried out manky rats tails. Cutting my hair into a bob knocked about 5 years off me and totally revitalised my hair. And it grows back anyway! xx

    • Ruth
      September 6, 2012 / 10:24 pm

      Exactly!! xxx

  15. MakeUpNaive
    September 5, 2012 / 7:08 pm

    I just had a trim today, a one inch cut!

    • Ruth
      September 6, 2012 / 10:24 pm

      Woooo! x

  16. September 5, 2012 / 10:12 pm

    Hi Ruth!

    Thank you so much for this post, I finally brave enough to cut my hair ( by myself, but don’t worry I’m quite good at it). I’ve permed my hair twice in 4 months which is the worst decision ever. My hair which is always being nice and totally fine with hair dye every 6 months finally gave up on me after that. I was patient to grow it longer for a year and tried all the hair mask, serum, treatment etc but the result only last for one day. I just cut about 3 inches and I have to say I really like my hair now! (still need to trim more in the future through). Thank you so much for this post xx

    • Ruth
      September 6, 2012 / 10:22 pm

      WOW! That’s a lot of perming! I’m glad it’s sorting itself out though! xx

  17. Syvie
    September 5, 2012 / 11:59 pm

    HAH! This picture is amazing! I myself have long been lusting (unrealistically) after a fabulous ‘fro.

    As far as the dry ends thing, I myself get dry ends and my hair is quite short. So, haircuts are great, but I do find that really brushing my hair with a bristle brush is great for the ends. It helps distribute the oils all over the hair. And I mean brush A LOT, like several minutes every day (and I don’t wash my hair every day).

    • Ruth
      September 6, 2012 / 11:09 am

      Really? OK, I will give that a go!! xx

  18. Ssl
    September 6, 2012 / 12:56 am

    My hair is thinning out and my hairline is receding. Can’t for the love of ‘whatever you believe in’ figure it out. I used to have really thick and head and half full of hair. Any help will be deeply appreciated Ruth.

  19. September 6, 2012 / 11:27 am

    LOL–I LOVE this picture of you, Ruth! But that must’ve been absolutely *killer* on your hair!

  20. linda
    September 8, 2012 / 8:05 pm

    HAHAHAAHAHA part of a hedge, too funny!!

  21. Andrada
    March 10, 2013 / 6:15 pm

    Hi Ruth! I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now, and I wanted to ask you something. What do you do to your hair during the night? My hair is always a mess when I wake up, even though it looked perfect the evening before, and I don’t always have the time to wash it again in the morning. I know that having it in a ponytail can seriously damage it, and I hate myself for doing that way too often. So do you have any advice regarding this? Thanks a lot!

  22. chanel1234
    April 15, 2013 / 7:41 pm

    i have curley hair never had my hair cut so its damaged but my dad wont let me have it cut i also use relaxants i want my hair to grow and i know i have to have it cut what do i do

  23. Jez Barnett
    April 17, 2013 / 8:21 pm

    Hi Ruth, anyone who wants to repair their hair, even with split ends, can experience amazing rebuilding from KeraStraight keratin treatments and Intense Boost 30 day repair . These are available nationwide and in over 17 countries, but are championed by your favourite hairdressers, Trevor Sorbie. Loads of information online including a salon locator. Best wishes, Jez

  24. Alexander Pierce
    August 27, 2013 / 12:11 pm

    more salmon, sardines, greek yogurt, omega(dha.epa) and some supliments
    like biocorex, or anthony logistics

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