Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Split Ends

Split Ends Stress

Dr. Robert Dorin, NYC-based Hair Care Expert and Restoration Specialist states, "Once a split end occurs, there is an irreparable tear in the hair shaft that cannot be repaired by a topical product. The only remedy is to cut the split end off about a 1/4 inch above the damaged end. However, conditioning hair care products that contain natural oils can help hide the appearance of and prevent split ends."

Great Products for Split Ends

Licensed cosmetologist Starr Arias, who works as an instructor and regional salon manager at the Ogle School in Arlington, Texas, states, "The products in the beauty industry that help with split ends are oils with molecules small enough to fill in the open cuticle such as argan, almond and jojoba. Keratins rebuild the medulla to give it strength and elasticity."

Each product listed here has been specifically recommended by a beauty industry expert.

Organix Moroccan Argan Oil

Dr. Robert Dorin
Dr. Robert Dorin

Expert recommendation: Dr. Dorin recommends the Organix Moroccan Argan Oil line of shampoo and conditioner. He states, "These products contain natural oils that will help seal the hair and re-balance the moisture to the hair shaft, helping to prevent splitting."

Purchasing: You can get a combo pack with a 13 ounce shampoo and the same size conditioner for under $20 from Amazon.

Scientific Essentials Line

Expert recommendation: Dr. Dorin also suggests using the Scientific Essentials line of hair products, which he founded. He states, "Simply Scientific shampoo and conditioner contain 18 MEA, the natural conditioner meant to be on our hair and clinically proven to maintain the hair's structural integrity and add a natural shine."

Purchasing: You can purchase a kit that contains a 12-ounce bottle of both shampoo and conditioner, as well as a four-ounce bottle of revitalizing mist, for just under $55 from ScientificEssentials.com.

Wella LuxeOil Collection

Expert recommendation: Arias recommends Wella's LuxeOil collection for damaged hair. She describes it as "the best solution without having to pay hundreds of dollar for a keratin treatment." She states, "LuxeOil Collection includes a kelating shampoo that prepares the hair for the Keratin Restore Mask cocktailed with the Reconstructive Elixir. The mask and elixir penetrate the medulla and work from inside out to restore hair fibers."

Purchasing: The shampoo costs $22 for a 6.7 ounce bottle. The price is the same for a 5.1 ounce container of the mask. A three-ounce bottle of elixir costs $48.

Cosmetology Instructor Starr Arias
Cosmetology Instructor Starr Arias

JOICO K-Pak Shampoo and Conditioner

Stylist Cherry Petenbrink
Stylist Cherry Petenbrink

Expert recommendation: Cherry Petenbrink, professional Joico hair stylist from Loxa Beauty, recommends the company's JOICO K-Pak shampoo and conditioner. She states. "These products can actually assist in mending and minimizing split ends by restoring the missing essential amino acids to reconstruct hair. Human hair keratin protein further strengthens the hair, minimizing split ends."

Purchasing: You can order one-liter bottles of shampoo and conditioner from the company for under $35 each. Smaller bottles are also available.

Oribe Goldlust Collection

Expert recommendation: Gary Gemma, owner of Gary Patrick Salon in Pleasanton, California recommends Oribe's Goldlust collection for split ends. He states, "Oribe's Goldlust Repair & Restore shampoo and conditioner have been deemed the fountain of youth with their ability to revitalize and smooth each hair cuticle to undo the damage of time."

Purchasing: These products are available at fine salons and can also be ordered from the company's website. An 8.5 ounce bottle of shampoo costs $58 and a 6.8 ounce tube of conditioner costs $49.

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo and Conditioner

Expert recommendation: Wendy Lewis, author, aesthetics consultant and editor-in-chief of BeautyInTheBag.com recommends Fekkai Brilliant Glossing shampoo and conditioner. She states, "This line is ideal for split ends as it contains olive oil that adds luster and strength to hair throughout the day."

Purchasing: Eight ounce bottles of the shampoo and conditioner cost $20 each. Order directly from the company, or purchase a set with one bottle of each from SkinStore.com for $38.

Leave-In Conditioners and Styling Aids

You may also benefit from following your shampoo and conditioner with a leave-in conditioner or styling aid to help prevent or minimize the appearance of split ends.

  • Petenbrink suggests, "Joico K-Pak Split End Mender and Leave-in Protectant can help reduce split ends by de-tangling hair through less aggressive comb-out."
  • Arias advises to follow up the use of shampoo and conditioner with a Sebastian's Potion 9 as a leave-in conditioner.
  • Lewis recommends Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Distressed Hair Treatment. She states, "This leave-in treatment helps with damaged hair, split ends and breakage for all types of distressed hair. Its enhanced formula repairs, strengthens and protects hair shine."
  • Gemma recommends styling with Oribe's Split End Seal, which he describes as "a silkening serum that has been clinically proven to restore damaged hair."

Ingredients to Avoid

There are, of course, many other shampoo products on the market that can help prevent or minimize the damaged appearance of split ends. When selecting a shampoo - or any other hair product - look for one that does not have ingredients likely to further damage your hair and lead to more split ends.

According to Dr. Dorin, ingredients to avoid include:

  • Sodium laurel sulfate: "SLS is the agent in many shampoos that causes that foaming lather we often see in hair commercials. What you don't know is that exposing your hair to this chemical actually destroys it in the long run, stripping it of essential oils it needs to stay healthy, breaking down protein and halting healthy hair growth. Products containing SLS have a cleaning power that is overwhelming, stripping the hair."
  • Sodium chloride: "Sodium Chloride is present in hair care products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate." It can cause hair loss and scalp dryness and itching. Dr. Dorin advises, "This should be avoided in people who have keratin treatments as it undoes the benefit faster."
  • Polyethelyne glycol. PEG/polyethyne or polyoxyethelyne: "This ingredient is included in shampoos as a thickening agent. It strips hair and skin of their natural moisture."
  • Diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA): "Products containing DEA or TEA can cause scalp irritation and even bad allergic reactions. They also destroy all the good stuff in your hair (such as keratin) making your hair dry, brittle and lifeless."
  • Parabens like ethylparaben and propylparaben: "Used to prolong shelf life of an average hair care product, parabens are chemicals that are known for their toxic nature. Parabens not only irritate the skin - which can make your scalp unhealthy - they can also affect your hormonal balance, which can result in hair loss." Petenbrink adds, "These ingredients can cause more stress on the hair over a period of time."
  • Formaldehyde: Dr. Dorin points out, formaldehyde can be "found in some shampoos. Excessive exposure to formaldehyde may cause some hair loss."
  • Alcohol: "Almost all hair care products contain some form of alcohol, which can dry your hair out if in high concentrations." He advises, "That being said, stay clear of shampoos with alcohol listed as one of the first four ingredients as this means that there is more in the product."
  • Synthetic fragrance or parfum: "This usually represents a complex mixture of dozens of chemicals. Some 3,000 chemicals are used in just one fragrance. Many fragrances are irritants and can cause the scalp to become aggravated."
  • Synthetic colors: "Artificial colors are used widely in hair care products for aesthetic purposes. These ingredients frequently appear as FD&C or D&C followed by a color and a number." The pigments in artificial colors can lead to both "skin sensitivity and scalp irritation."
  • Propylene glycol: "Propylene glycol is commonly used in hair care products so they don't freeze during shipping and storage." It works well for this purpose because it is the same antifreeze used in vehicles. According to Dr. Dorin, this substance can lead to allergic skin reactions, irritate skin and can actually "alter skin structure."
  • Lanolin, petroleum and mineral oil: Even though these ingredients are commonly added to pomades and greases for ethnic hair, Dr. Dorin states that they "offer no real moisturizing benefits." Instead, they "actually weigh the hair down and prevent the natural oils produced by the scalp from being absorbed by the hair shaft."

Realistic Expectations

Dr. Dorin states, "It is a well-accepted fact that dry, brittle hair is far more prone to splitting than a healthy hair shaft with intact structural integrity. The use of ammonium and sodium laurel sulfate-containing shampoos that are too stringent and remove too much of its natural oils and partially strip it of its natural 18 MEA coating (the natural protective lipid layer of hair) will lessen the hairs structural integrity - making it more susceptible to splitting."

He adds, "The use of conditioners that depend upon forms of silicone to seal and condition the hair instead of using naturally occurring 18 MEA will pale in comparison in helping it in maintaining the hair's integrity, proper moisture content and preventing split ends."

Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Split Ends