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Despite my love for science and beauty products, I’m a bit of an Einstein when it comes to my own maintenance. By that I don’t mean to imply I am a genius, but rather a bit of a scatterbrain with my upkeep. I’ll style my eye makeup meticulously in the morning, only to realize in the bathroom mirror at 3 PM I’ve been walking around for hours with raccoon eyes.
Such was the case with me and split ends. I never noticed I had them, even with my long (mid-back) hair, until one of my friends pointed them out to me on the school bus in sixth grade. I’ll never forget it; she reached back, grabbed the ends of my hair, and her eyes widened. “Don’t you ever check these?”
I stared at the end, like a tiny black tree with six branches, ever since. I’ve been getting trims every three months ever since…That is, until I met the latest line of split end products! Now I can go a little longer without my trim, saving both time and money, muhaha…
How Split End Repair Products Work
The general idea is that the aldehydes and hydrolyzed keratin amino acids in the product react with naturally occurring keratin in the hair, according to scientist Dr. Tonya McKay Becker, Ph.D., an author of Naturally Curly.com. Once the reaction occurs, delicate bridges form between the split pieces of hair, bonding new keratin onto the hair’s surface. These bridges effectively “glue” the hair strand back together.
Adding keratin to the hair has other effects as well. Keratin treatments, also known as shine treatments, have been administered in salons for years. The addition of keratin to the hair makes it appear thicker, smoother, and more shiny – an effect that may occur to a lesser extent with the at-home split end repair products.
What is the Best Product?
5. Best Value: Suave Professionals Damage Care Shampoo and Conditioner
TotalBeauty.com readers rank these products (shampoo and conditioner) as #1, but I don’t really understand why. I mean, yes, they are effective for the cost, amounting to less than the price of a 6-inch roast beef at Subway. (For those of you who didn’t catch the commercial, that’s $5!)
But at the same time, the concentrations of the keratin-binding ingredients in these products are low. Furthermore, it’s a shampoo and conditioner. If you’re going to invest in a product that binds your hair together temporarily, why would you want to make it a product that you have to rinse out of your hair?!
With that said, is it a nice, inexpensive complement to any of the other products listed? Definitely.
Ingredients in Suave Damage Care Conditioner
Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Dimethiconol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Fragrance (Parfum), Dipropylene Glycol, Potassium Chloride, Lactic Acid, Disodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Glycerin, Tea-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Tocopheryl Acetate [Vitamin E Acetate], Arginine Hcl, Ascorbic Acid [Vitamin C], Panthenol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Linoleamidopropyl Pg-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Silk Amino Acids, Methylisothiazolinone.
4. Best Strengthening: Pantene Split End Repair Keratin Protection Creme
On the one hand, I love Pantene products because they contain panthenol, which has been shown to penetrate the hair follicle, bring moisture to the cortex, and to act as a humectant for the hair, giving it more shine, according to the Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology. Excitingly, also from the book, 2% panthenol in water has also been shown to increase hair thickness after just 2 minutes exposure.
On the other hand, this product contains less of the keratin-binding ingredients than the others listed. So, while it works, it’s not giving as significant a binding effect as, say, the Nexxus Pro-Mend. A little disappointing, but still gets the job done. Think of it more as the summer intern with the bad attitude who gets stuck making the coffee.
Ingredients in Pantene Split End Repair Serum
Water, Dimethicone, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Cassia Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Bambusa Vulgaris Shoot Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Fragrance, EDTA, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Stearyl Alcohol, Quaternium-18, Benzyl Alcohol, PEG-2M, Cetearyl Alcohol, DMDM Hydantoin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Glyceryl Stearate, Oleyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Citric Acid.
3. Best Drugstore Product (and Best Scent): Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Split End Protector
I never can forget those Herbal Essences commercials from the ’90’s – a bit risque for those pre-South Park times, ‘eh? At any rate, if you refuse to pay department store prices for your hair care, then this product is as good as it gets. The keratin-binding ingredient (dimethylamine) is one of the top four, meaning that it is in fairly high concentration, and it has a high concentration of hydrolyzed silk to boot. Considering hydrolyzed silk imparts gloss, shine, and increased stretchability to the hair, according to one Japanese study, that’s a lot from a product that’s less than $20 and could last up to three months, depending on the length of your hair (and the heaviness of your hand). And the smell? Still ahhhhhh-worthy, as always. I’m a big fan.
Ingredients in Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Split End Protector
Water, Stearyl Alcohol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Juice, Hydrolyzed Silk, Dimethicone, Glutamic Acid, Fragrance, Benzyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Edta, Propylene Glycol, Dmdm Hydantoin, Red 33
2. Best for Thick Hair: Pureology Instant Repair Leave-In Conditioner and Scalp Treatment
High concentration of split-end binding ingredients? Check. UV protectant? Check. Hair softening? Check. Now, one caveat: It is best for normal to thick hair, as it has a very thin consistency that can make fine hair look straggly. If your hair is thick enough, however, repeated uses leave no build-up on the hair, only increased shine. All in all, an amazing product – and eons of the new technology to boot!
1. Best Overall: Nexxus Pro-Mend Repair Creme
It’s famous for a reason, and it’s not being on a reality show: this guy’s famous because he works. Nexxus Pro-Mend Repair Creme has a creamy consistency that hydrates the hair well. It does not weigh down normal to fine hair as much as other products, though it still makes hair a little flat, so I recommend using it on the ends only for those hair types. It works well on thick or curly hair exceptionally well, reducing frizz and making it easier to glide through with brushing. Overall, I love Nexxus Pro-Mend Repair Creme and would recommend it to anyone. Definitely worth the investment – after all, you probably will be dealing your salon visit another three months!
Ingredients in Nexxus Pro-Mend Repair Creme
Water, Phenyltrimethicone, Dimethicone, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Polyquaternium 37, Polyquaternium 28, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Aspartic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Fragrance (Parfum), PPG 1 Trideceth 6, Glyceryl Stearate, PVM/MA Copolymer, Dimethiconol, DMDM Hydantoin, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Hexylcinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene, Coumarin, Linalool, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, Cocos Nucifera Oil (Coconut), Keratin Amino Acid,Jasminum Officinale Flower Extract (Jasmine)
Further Tips with Split End Repair Products
- Use them when your hair is still wet. The drying action (whether through air or heat) will help to set the keratin bonds in your hair.
- Make sure you still trim your hair regularly. Although I have joked that you can delay your haircuts, think of these products like concealing the weeds in your yard: The longer you conceal, the more you will find you have to cut out later.
- Using too much product is not a good idea, as it makes hair appear to have poofy ends. Start with the smallest amount possible and experiment, incrementally adding small amounts of product with each use until you find the optimal amount.
- These products do not work well with hair straighteners. They tend to make the hair appear abnormally thick.
- Your hair may feel “crunchy.” This is a sign you have used too mucht, or it is not the right product for the consistency of your hair.
I absolutely love these new split end repair products, and I think they are one of the first major advances in beauty out of this fresh decade. I’m excited to hear what you think! Let us know in Comments below, on our Twitter page, or our Facebook page!
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