There comes a time during the lifespan of any haircut that I like to refer to as “the tipping point.” You go to bed one night and your hair still looks great, but when you look in the mirror the next morning, something has changed. Your cut has lost its shape, you’ve got more frayed ends than nicely zipped ones, and things have seemingly fallen from grace.
Usually, that means it’s time to schedule a trim. But what are you supposed to do when that might not be an option? First things first, you can rest easy knowing that extending a haircut for a few extra weeks doesn’t necessarily have to be bad news. “The biggest thing I’ve found when people can’t get in for long periods of time for a haircut is that… it grows,” says Garnier celebrity stylist Ashley Streicher. “You can take this time to get some length on your hair.”
However, as hair starts to grow out, it’s important to prioritize the health of your strands, because problems can start to set in if your hair is damaged. “The split ends will continue to split up the shaft and eventually break off, which is why it might feel like your hair isn’t getting any longer,” says Jerome Lordet, a stylist at Pierre Michel Salon. This sort of overgrowth can cause your cut to lose its shape, and for the body and bounce it once had to suddenly disappear. Want solutions to keep things looking better for longer? Keep scrolling.
Skip some washes
There’s no better time than the present to skip a day (or five) of washing your hair. When you wash your hair too frequently, the constant shampooing can strip your scalp of its natural oils, and also dry out your strands, which can ultimately result in your ends getting crispy and splitting. Lordet suggests compensating with a dry shampoo, like Cleo & Coco Dry Shampoo ($13) on days when you need a little refresh, but don’t want to go for a full-on wash.
Integrate a repairing shampoo and conditioner
When you do decide to go for a full lather, rinse, and repeat, it’s important that you’re using the right shampoo and conditioner to do it. Once hair splits at the tip, it’s inevitable that more breakage is ahead. While you can’t technically repair dead ends without a haircut, you can help treat some of the existing breakage while also preventing more of it from happening. “If your hair is already fragile, and starting to break, use a damage-repairing shampoo and conditioner,” says Streicher. She’s a fan of Garnier Fructis Treat Damage Repairing Shampoo and Conditioner (each, $5), which tap papaya extract to nourish and moisturize strands.
Ease up on heat styling
If there was ever a time to skip out on a blowout, it’s now. Hot tools, like straightening irons, work by breaking the hydrogen bonds in your hair while also adding tension and compression, which is what causes heat damage to your strands. So give them a rest for a little while, and let hair air dry, instead. Consider using all of the styling time that you’re saving to teach yourself how to do some fancy hair styling, or just go au natural.
Regularly using a deep conditioner is important for keeping all hair healthy, but it becomes critical in times of severe dryness or damage. Deep conditioning masks, like the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Mask ($32), nourish and revive strands by adding moisture into the hair shaft. Pro tip? “You can use a deep conditioner and a wet towel warmed in the microwave to help the conditioner further into the hair shaft, as the heat will help it penetrate,” says Lordet. Heat opens up the cuticle (the outermost layer of hair, which then allows those nourishing ingredients to sink in even deeper). Better yet, put it on before your workout and let the sweat heat it up, then wash it out when you’re done.
These 5 split end menders helped one writer stave off a haircut for an entire year. Plus, four signs you need a haircut that have nothing to do with split ends.