The closure of salons has taken its toll on even the most well-kept strands, and we’re all desperate to see our hairdresser again (maybe even more so than friends and family). First to miss our appointments were our roots, but by now it’s our ends that are suffering too. Even those that got last-minute trims before lockdown may be starting to see split ends.
“A split-end is the result of continual dehydration,’’ explains renowned hairdresser, Michael Van Clarke. “The hair loses moisture, so the protein structure becomes fragile and breaks down a little, until eventually the ends just crack apart.” Unfortunately, colouring, heat styling, diet, lifestyle and even the environment can all play a part in weakening the hair stand.
A trim is the only way to stop a split end from continuing to fray, but unless you’re a trained hairdresser we recommend you put down the scissors, less it all end in disaster. Instead, a safer and better option for your hair right now is to us a split-end treatment.
Coming in the form of serums, sprays and leave-in conditioners they promise to not only make split-ends look healthier but also help prevent them in the first place until you get to see your beloved stylist again. They’re also a great option for those wanting help growing their hair.
You should also get into a habit of being kinder to your hair to limit damage. It’s more fragile when wet, so squeeze wetness out gently with your hands to avoid damaging towel friction. You should also take care when brushing.
“Certain brushes, like boar bristle brushes, can tear away sections of the hair shaft,” warns trichologist, Anabel Kingsley at Philip Kingsley. Instead she recommends trying a brush specifically for wet hair or, ideally, a wide-tooth comb – perfect for detangling knots without tugging at your trim. You should also try going without the extra heat from your tools every once in a while.
We put the latest products on the virtual beauty shelves to the test. Our favourites not only had to make a visible difference to how healthy our ends looked but also how they felt. These are the winners that made the cut…
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Philip Kingsley bond builder split end remedy, 50ml
When you’re testing a product from a brand that has such a staple hair mask that’s already part of your Sunday self-care ritual – yes, we’re talking about the Elasticizer deep conditioning treatment – you expect very big things. And we’re so pleased this didn’t disappoint.
It claimed it would seal and smooth split ends instantly, which we were amazed at how well it did. Our dry ends looked more fresh-cut than they had in weeks. After the first use, we also found our strands not only looked well-nourished but felt amazingly soft too. We preferred using it after every wash for optimum results, but if you just use it every three washes, you’ll still be amazed.
Rita Hazan triple threat split end remedy, 50ml
When it comes to a celebrity client list, it doesn’t get more prestigious than New York colourist Rita Hazan. She’s transformed the strands of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey to name just a few. Her haircare line, just as her customers, contains some talented stars too, and that includes this serum.
We saw immediate results after first use on our split-ends, as it targets breakage by working like a glue to bind ends together. You’ll need to give it longer with continued use for best results, but we loved how strong and durable our hair felt after two weeks.
The Inkey List PCA bond repair hair treatment, 100ml
You’ll have already heard of this brand, thanks to its affordable and effective skincare range, but have you tried any of The Inkey Lists’s scalp or haircare? This recent launch is already making beauty waves – being compared to Olaplex. It’s perfect for parched hair or those that may have had a DIY colouring disaster in lockdown.
The light spray uses next-generation bond technology to repair damaged areas, and by sticking to use after every wash hair does feel stronger, much more manageable and shiny. We also want to give the brand major green points, as the packaging is 100 per cent recyclable (even the pump).
The Hair Boss overnight repair serum, 30ml
More of a hair oil than a serum, this is a rich formula with chia seed oil and macadamia oil to name a few. The key to use is to warm the product in the palm of your hand before massaging it on to dry ends. We used it overnight (just be careful as it can transfer to your pillowcase), or as a finishing product after blow drying and loved the results of both. It provides a purse-friendly moisture boost to dry and damaged ends, leaving them looking much healthier. It’s also great value, as a little goes a very long way, so use it sparingly and the bottle will last a very long time.
Monat rejuvabeads, 70ml
This uses clever micro-encapsulation haircare technology, where tiny beads rich in omega fatty acids, antioxidants and nutrients, seek out the damage in strands in need of repair. And because it only targets the areas that really need it, we found it doesn’t weigh hair down or cause any greasiness, and that’s on fine hair types too.
Mid-lengths to ends looked noticeably smoother and stronger after just one use. It worked so well that results last up to three washes, as promised. It’s pricey, but worth it for the complements alone – we had more than one comment over Zoom on how healthy our hair was looking.
Grow Gorgeous balance fibre-sealing split ends treatment, 150ml
Whether your hair is suffering with split-ends or not, you’ll want to apply this after every wash because it smells like a luxe perfume that lingers all day long in your hair. Aside from its heavenly fragrance, we also loved how it made our hair look. The nourishing formula was an instant smoothing fix for strands, as well as hair-splinters. Ongoing use made our mane feel so much stronger too, with less breakage and hair shedding in the shower. It was also the formula that promoted the most gloss.
Redken extreme length leave-in treatment, 150ml
This is designed for people that want to grow their hair, helping you get past that awkward stage where you usually end up giving in and getting it cut. It boasts hair strengthening ingredients, mainly soy protein and biotin (part of the vitamin B family that plays a vital role in maintaining hair health) that toughen up strands and promote a healthier head of hair.
After two weeks of applying this to damp towel-dried hair after every wash we saw real results. There was less fall out to hair that has had a tendency to break more and more. Lengths looked smoother and fresher on the ends too, and we were super impressed with the shine.
ghd rehab advanced split end therapy, 100ml
Reach for this tube if you can’t live without your straightening irons, as the formula is activated by the heat of your styler. The repair cream reinforces weakened strands leaving them looking well-nourished after it’s been combed through wet hair and blow dried. For us, the real magic happened after we’d gone over with irons too, as it tamed frizz and our hair – which is in desperate need of a trim – looked salon-cut and polished. The pick for those that like their hair super sleek.
Virtue the perfect ending split end serum, 50ml
This is a go-to brand for those with particularly damaged hair types, as the core ingredient in all Virtue’s haircare is a keratin protein identical to the one found in our strands. It has the power to bind and repair the broken structure, and is the main ingredient in this treatment, too.
After just one use, we found it smoothed the mid-lengths of highlighted and dry strands well, but the key with this serum is continued use, as we saw our broken ends transform after around five applications. As a bonus, the coconut fragrance gives us serious beach holiday vibes – something we could all do with right now.
Moroccanoil mending infusion, 75ml
From the signature argan oil haircare brand, this serum works a little differently than the rest, as it’s a finishing product that should be applied on dry hair after styling. It works as an instant-fix on brittle and damaged ends, transforming them to silky, softer-looking strands. We like to think of this as a concealer to split ends, as you can apply as much as is needed to cover up damage until you get the desired result. And don’t worry about build-up, there’s no tackiness or stickiness you may get from other styling products.
The verdict: Split-end treatments
For winning results, you can’t beat the Philip Kingsley bond builder split end remedy. It strengthens and protects strands helping to prevent damage and new splits from forming, but also makes existing split-ends look much healthier. If you don’t mind the spend Monat rejuvabeads is equally as brilliant, and when other people are noticing how good your hair looks, you really know it works.
We’re also obsessed with L’Oréal’s bestselling wonder water conditioner, read our review
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