This Is the Key to Fixing Split Ends—Without Losing Length

Photo credit: Stocksy
Photo credit: Stocksy

Let me tell you a story about an indecisive girl (me, I'm the indecisive girl) who once cut her hair into a lob and then immediately changed her mind and decided to grow it out. Familiar story, right? So it's probably unsurprising that I spent the next many, many months researching how to make my hair grow faster and refusing to get much-needed hair trims, in an effort to keep my length. But you know what I should have been looking into instead? Hair dusting.

Not a haircut, not even a trim, a hair dusting is a technique in which you remove only the split ends, strand by strand. As a result, you get to keep your hard-earned length and part ways with only the destructive damage. Because unhealthy hair eventually leads to breakage, and those broken-off pieces are gonna make your hair growth journey a whole heck of a lot harder. Normally, I wouldn't recommend cutting your own hair, but hair dusting? Anyone can DIY that, and we've got plenty of advice and all the tutorials you need, below.

What does dusting mean when cutting hair?

Unfortunately, split ends won't go away on their own or fix themselves, and if left alone, they just get worse. “Split ends lead to what most people consider breakage, which is when the hair breaks at a point that makes the strand significantly shorter than the unbroken hair,” celeb hairstylist Cash Lawless has previously told Cosmo. What's more, it's impossible to totally mend a split end, and the only way to truly get rid of it is to cut it off.

Hair dusting is ideal for those who shudder at the thought of a haircut (why do hairdressers always take off more than they say they will?!), but still need to clean up their ends and split pieces. The term “dusting” is just a nickname for getting rid of the tips or ends of your hair without removing any length, according to Raven Hurtado, a hairstylist at Maxine Salon.

Is dusting healthy for hair?

Yes! That's actually the point of hair dusting—to remove the unhealthy parts and reveal healthy-looking ends. What's not healthy is continuing to apply heat, bleach, and rough friction to your hair without also combating some of that damage with masks and deep conditioning treatments and removing the pieces that are past the point of repair.

How can I dust my hair myself?

Welp, this one is going to depend on your hair type and texture, but thankfully, there are some pretty good tutorials on how to dust your hair at home. Though, of course, if you're feeling iffy about it, just make yourself an appointment with a professional, k?

How to dust straight hair:

  1. Dry your hair. Hurtado says the easiest way to dust your hair at home is to start with smooth, dry hair. Trust, it's a lot easier to see the flyaways that stick out and need a trim when your hair is straightened.

  2. Section it off. Work with one small section at a time, and clip away the rest. If you try to dust all your hair at once, you won't be as thorough.

  3. Twist and cut. Hurtado's favorite way to highlight the split ends so you can easily trim them off (less than a quarter of an inch should do it) is to twist the section until you see little hairs sticking out from the rest, then cut. Instead of twisting, you can also wrap the section tight around your pointer and press it between your fingers to keep it tight (watch the video above to see what I mean).

  4. Repeat steps two and three. Continue this process until you've examined your whole head of hair, and you're done. See? Easy.

How to dust curly hair:

  1. Dry your hair. Although the easiest way to dust is on blown-out, straightened hair, you can still snip the split ends when your hair is curly—just make sure it's totally dry.

  2. Section it. It's always easier to work in smaller sections, so keep lots of clips nearby and pull the rest of your hair back while you work on one small section or coil at a time.

  3. Stretch the curl and cut. Pull the small section tight. To push the split ends out and make them more visible, wrap the section over your finger as you slide your hand down to the end. Trim the very tip of the strand (about a quarter of an inch).

  4. Repeat. Continue sectioning your hair, stretching the curl, and snipping the split ends until you've dusted every last section.

How to dust type-4 hair

  1. Dry your hair. Your hair doesn't have to be straightened, but it does need to be completely dry for the split ends to pop up.

  2. Section it. Focus on one small section at a time, and clip the rest away.

  3. Pull it tight and cut. Wrap the section of hair over your middle finger and use your other fingers to keep the section of hair pulled tight (watch the demo above at the 4:43 mark). As you slide your hand down to the ends, trim any strands that stick out (again, only about a quarter of an inch).

  4. Repeat. Continue the process until all of the sections of hair have been dusted.

How often should I dust my hair?

If your bathroom countertop is covered with box hair dyes, curling irons, flat irons, and whatever the trendy blow-dryer brush of the moment is, I’m gonna take a wild guess and say you’ve got more than a few split ends on your head. Don't worry, you don't have to quit all of the above. But if you want to continue your ways without sacrificing the health of your hair, you *must* make hair dusting a regular thing (also heat protectants. Get you one).

“If you’re someone who is using hot tools, coloring your hair, or chemical treatments often, then it’s recommended to dust your hair in between trims to keep it healthy and get rid of any dried or brittle ends,” Hurtado explains. If you never get trims, so that timeline means nothing to you, hairstylist Leigh Hardges from Maxine Salon previously told Cosmo that those growing out their hair should get a trim every three months. If you do the math, that means hair dusting would be a good idea every month and a half, but if you see some stray splits before them, feel free to snip 'em.

The final word: Is dusting better than a trim?

There's room for both! “A trim maintains the shape and lines of your haircut and sometimes an inch or more may be taken off,” Hurtado explains. “A dusting is when you take off only the ends where is needed without changing the shape of the haircut.” To sum it up, when you don't want to change the cut or the length, hair dusting is def the way to go.

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