I like to stretch out my haircuts for as long as humanly possible. There’s only one person in the world I trust to snip the bottoms (hi, Jon), and I was just about to book an overdue appointment when… social distancing went into effect. This is how I found myself on month six of my current cut, with no access to Jon—or any salon—until a date TBD.
My neighbor actually told me I was “starting to look like Rapunzel,” which hit a little bit too close to home, considering stylists suggest getting long hair like mine trimmed every three months. I tried every split ends treatment I could think of to make my hair look less dry and dead, from serums to skipping washes to staying away from hot tools, and at one point resorted to leaving deep conditioning treatments in for days on end. None of it worked. I was this close to grabbing a pair of scissors and giving myself the haircut I’d been putting off since New Years Day, until I discovered the one product in my arsenal that I hadn’t tested on them yet:
Split ends occur when the outer layer of your hair’s cuticle becomes damaged and breaks, which tends to happen when hair is particularly dry. While you can’t technically fix them once the hair splits, you can hydrate your hair enough to make them near-invisible, and prevent hair from splitting any further. Which is exactly what the Bumble & Bumble split ends treatment does (so does this more affordable option from Shea Moisture). “Hair balm is a great product for restoring moisture to hair,” says Jerome Lordet from Pierre Michel Salon in New York City. “They’re similar to deep conditioners, but are less dense, and help to control frizz and makes styling after wash easier.”
The super-concentrated balm is made with seven different oils, which work together to nourish hair, boost shine, and combat frizz. Argan oil, almond oil, and coconut oil packed with vitamins A, C, and E and fatty acids, help hydrate and manage split ends. “This specific balm liquefies or melts into an oil and helps to hydrate and detangle pre-wash which will give your hair a healthy shine and softness,” says Lordet. It’s meant to be applied to dry strands, because that’s when hair is most absorbent, and should sit for at least 20 minutes before you wash it out.
When I tried the balm for myself for the first time, I was a little wary at the thought of slathering my whole head with oils. Wouldn’t it look greasy after I washed it out? Willing to risk it, I separated my hair into four sections, scooped the balm out of the jar, and rubbed it between my hands so that it could melt down into a liquid. Then, I applied it generously to my entire hair shaft (paying extra attention to my oh-so-sad-looking ends), using enough product to really saturate each section. I let it sit for 30 minutes–10 more than the brand recommends—and did a quick workout, knowing that hair masks work more effectively on warm, sweaty, scalps.
I hopped in the shower and lathered up with Drunk Elephant Glossing Shampoo ($25) and Cocomino Marula Cream Conditioner ($25), and was shocked at how easily the mask melted away. In a matter of seconds, my strands felt clean. I gave myself an at-home blowout, and was shocked to discover that the split ends that had been haunting me for months had all but disappeared. My hair looked silky, smooth, and healthy, so much so that four different coworkers asked me what I’d done to it during our morning Zoom meeting. Was it as shiny and new as it would have been after a fresh cut from Jon? No. But I’ll be slathering my tips with this balm until that’s possible.
Aside from this split ends treatment, here are a few other things you can do to deal with overgrown hair right now. Plus, what stylists want you to know before you try to box dye your own roots.