How To Trim Split Ends: 5 Expert-Approved Ways To Get Rid Of Pesky Frays
Even if you're hesitant to brave the at-home haircut (we understand), trimming split ends is a relatively low-lift venture. That's because clipping off frayed ends doesn't always mean you have to sacrifice precious inches—in fact, you can have happy, thriving strands and keep your length goals intact. While you should wait for a professional to do more of the heavy-lifting—no need to experiment with styles here—a few snips here and there can help your ends appear healthy and full (which, you should know, can help your hair grow faster).
Below, experts provide five ways to get rid of those splits. Say goodbye to those brittle frays:
Give yourself a trim.
We'll begin with the most obvious: As there's truly no way to "revive" frayed, damaged ends, the best you can do is shear them off and start anew. You can find our full DIY trimming guide here, but below are some quick tips from hairstylist Scott Fabian of Sally Hershberger Salon:
- Start with dry hair. "Self-given cuts, when performed on dry hair, tend to be more accurate, as wet hair shortens when dry," he says.
- Part your hair into small sections, using clips, and point-cut vertically into the ends. Point-cutting, as opposed to a horizontal snip, provides a softer line that's much more forgiving (you know, just in case you butcher the trim). "A common error people make when trimming their own split ends is taking a large section of hair and cutting it all at once," says Fabian. "Oftentimes, people get overwhelmed with large amounts of hair in their hand, and that is when mistakes happen."
Want those split ends gone, but don't necessarily feel like chopping any length? Dusting is just for you. That's because the technique calls for cutting into the hair rather than snipping ends off. Here's what to do: Twist a half-inch section of dry, clean hair to see if any broken split hairs come out. Then just take a pair of small scissors and trim off the split hairs. (Our full guide, over here.)
"Another trick you can do is take a small section, about ½ inch, of dry hair and twist it toward the end," says celebrity hairstylist and Biolage brand ambassador Sunnie Brook. It's similar to dusting, although you're zeroing in on those end pieces: "You will see the dry, split ends poke out like a Christmas tree." Find those hairs split in half, and snip them off. "Try to cut at an angle to soften the line versus cutting bluntly, especially if you have coarse straight hair," says Brook.
Blow-dry your hair smooth.
For extra precision, Brook also says you can blow-dry your freshly washed hair until it's smooth, which makes it a bit easier to seek out any brittle, frayed ends. Separate your hair into half-inch sections, and brush to the ends with a wide-toothed comb—at this point, you should see any frays sticking out of the bristles. Then point-cut vertically: "This will maintain the length as much as possible while removing some of the dry split ends. Start with a little and keep going if you still want to remove more," Brook explains.
Nick Stenson, celebrity hairstylist and artistic director of Matrix, also recommends "skimming" the hair, a specialized cutting technique that effectively removes buildup and splits poking out of the strands. While it's best to see a professional (a hairstylist will have a better angle, and some even use a straight razor to lift off all the gunk), you can use the blade on a sharp pair of shears to produce a similar effect.
It's a great technique, again, for those looking to maintain their length. "It only takes a little and what's necessary," says Stenson. Just part your dry hair into thin, layered sections and "skim" the blade downward toward your ends. You might even see some product buildup and frays accumulating on the blade—it's pretty satisfying; just make sure not to go too overboard.
There's much you can do to shear off splits in a snap. As for the don'ts? Brook simply advises against using a dull pair of scissors. "This can 'chew' the hair and lead to more split ends," she says. "[Your shears] don't have to be as expensive as your hairdresser's scissors, but they should be made for hair, not kitchen use." Other than that, the best advice (as with all DIY beauty treatments) is to make minimal changes. As Stenson notes, "Don't get aggressive," no matter how brittle your ends may be.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.