Valerie Monroe
Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: My hair keeps breaking; How can I prevent split ends?

A: This is one of those questions I get asked with startling regularity—like three times a day. And I think there's a good reason: Unless you're a haircare zealot—by which I mean you see your stylist without fail every six weeks for a trim, you never overshampoo or overstyle with heated tools, and you wouldn't go near a chemical treatment—some breakage and split ends are inevitable. But a few suggestions from master stylist Barry Reitman at the Juan Juan Center in Beverly Hills can help:

Use a moisturizing shampoo (like Nexxus Dualiste Color Protection + Intense Hydration Shampoo, $12) and rinse-out conditioner (such as Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Moisture Balance Conditioner, $4), concentrating the product on your split ends.

Rinse with cool water to seal the hair's outer layer.

Detangle with a wide-tooth comb.

Pour a bit of shine serum (try Garnier Fructis Style Brilliantine Shine Glistening Drops, $4.50) into your palm and glide it over split ends.

Be sure to dry your hair thoroughly; split ends look worse when they're frizzy.

To camouflage the ends, use a light heat protectant (like Redken Spray Starch 15 versatile ironing spray, $13) when hair is completely dry. Then use a ceramic or Teflon flatiron to straighten the bottom inch of your hair.

Bottom line: Because of normal wear and tear, you can't prevent split ends entirely. But they can lead to breakage higher up on the hair shaft, so getting regular trims is important to your hair's health, says Antonio Prieto, of Antonio Prieto Salon in New York City.