Tried & Tested: These Natural Hair Menders Will Save Your Ends Between Trims
"Split ends are damage done to your cuticle," says hairstylist Levi Monarch. "Once it gets so damaged to the point it starts to split, the only way to fix it is by cutting it off."
So how does this happen? The same way you get damage elsewhere on your hair: Heat, chemical treatments, physical wear and tear, and environmental aggressors like the sun. The worst culprit, however, is heat. "And one thing that causes a lot of damage is actually metal brushes, especially when used with heat from blow-dryers," says Monarch. "The metal bristles retain heat from your hot tools, which ends up increasing the damage done to the hair." (He recommends switching to a boar bristle brush, which is softer on your hair.)
So at this point, you're likely wondering why I'm suggesting split-end products at all. And to that I say, Valid point! It's disingenuous to claim that this product category is somehow ridding your hair of frayed, damaged ends, as what you're seeing is really just superficial care. But once you get over the mental hump that these aren't going to save your hair from all damage forever, you can start to see them for what they are: a styling tool and, more importantly, preventive care.
"What split-end menders do is fill out your cuticle and act like a temporary glue to bond the tips together; in some cases they increase shine so you can apply it after you've done your hair to make the ends look more put-together," says Monarch. "But what you really need to pay attention to is the protective layer, like a thermal or UV shield. This way, you can put it on the ends before styling to keep your hair from getting them in the first place."
But protection is only one part of preventive care. The other part? Regular conditioning—so on that front I also included a few treatment products that will aid in hair health long term. Here, a natural regimen that will not replace trims—but it will make your hair glorious between them.
Kevin Murphy Leave-In.Repair
This comes at damage at all sides: Hydrolysed Keratin and green pea proteins to restore the hair shafts' health, jojoba seed oil for shine, bamboo extract for vitamins and minerals, and papain, a papaya enzyme to improve elasticity. (It, too, acts as a heat protectant.) And while this is strong enough to help severely damaged ends, it's light enough for your whole head of hair.
Leave-In.Repair, Kevin Murphy ($32)
Yarok Feed Your Ends Organic Leave-In Conditioner
Nicknamed "vitamins for your hair," this spray is made with a powerful blend of antioxidant-rich oils like grape seed, jojoba, and primrose. Not only is this a heat-protectant, but it will also act as a detangler, minimizing physical damage, too.
Feed Your Ends Organic Leave-In Conditioner, Yarok ($16)
Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Deep-Conditioning Hair Cap System
This is the closest you are going to get to a product that actually mends hair: This two-part mask is made with the brand's signature deep-conditioning mask, with an added step that provides amped-up repair. The cap is infused with an essence that basically turns up the volume on the nutrients in the cream—making this the most intense damage-repairing mask I've ever tried.
Don't Despair, Repair! Deep-Conditioning Hair Cap System, Briogeo ($36)
NaturaBrasil Patauá Strengthening Hair Tonic
Finally, the best way to keep hair healthy between cuts is to start at the scalp—where healthy hair actually grows. This is made with Patauá oil, which is rich with vitamins, omega-9, and fatty acids. Most people are, rightfully, scared of adding oils to their scalp as they are heavy and can be pore-clogging. This is super lightweight and will soothe the scalp as your hair grows in.
Patauá Strengthening Hair Tonic, NaturaBrasil ($25)
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