How to fix split ends (without cutting your hair!)

Blonde. Brunette. Redhead.

Long. Short.

Straight. Curly. Wavy.

Young. Old.

Thick. Thin.

If there is one thing that ties all these diverse types together, it’s this: Split Ends. Horrid, ghastly, hair-destroying split end. Which turn your strands into straw and make it impossible to either grow or style them into any half-decent ‘do. Yup, there’s no hair enemy as fierce and unyielding as the much-dreaded split end. In fact, hairstylists tell me those frazzled ends are the number one complaint clients cite when they come in for a cut.

What is a split end? When hair is damaged, its cuticle (outer layer) starts cracking and exposing it’s inner cortex. Once this internal structure of a hair strand is exposed, it rapidly becomes weak and dry, leading to split ends. Depending on where it is situated on the hair shaft, a split end can unravel and travel quite some way up the hair shaft.

split endsWhile the only true way to rid yourself of split ends is to have them snipped off, there are several things you can do between salon appointments to improve the look of damage and prevent more splits from occurring. And no, a serum that is supposed to bind the ends back together is not the best idea – it can end up in depositing residue on strands that may actually make them weaker and more brittle. On the other hand, a deep conditioning split end hair mask can help strengthen the hair shaft and reduce damage.

Split ends rescue remedy #1

Ingredients: 1 papaya (de-seeded and skinned), ½ cup plain yogurt

Method: Mash up the papaya and mix it with the yogurt; whip until you obtain a smooth consistency. Apply this mixture all over the hair. Cover with a shower cap and leave for 45 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Why it works: Both papaya and yogurt are rich in proteins and amino acids, which help make hair stronger.

split ends 2Split ends rescue remedy #2

Ingredients: 1 avocado (pitted, skinned and mashed), 2 tablespoons egg whites, 3 tablespoons olive oil

Method: Mix together the avocado, egg whites and olive oil; whip till creamy. Apply this mixture all over the hair. Cover with a shower cap and leave for an hour, then wash hair with a mild shampoo.

Why it works: Avocados are full of vitamins and other nutrients that repair the hair cuticle, while olive oil provides an incredibly moisturizing boost to dry, damaged tresses. Combined with protein-laden egg whites, they make a wonderful treatment for split ends.

Split ends rescue remedy #3

Ingredients: A cup of flat beer

Method: Simply pour the beer into a spray bottle and spray evenly over your hair. Leave on for an hour, then rinse thoroughly and wash with a mild shampoo.

Why it works: The proteins and sugar in beer bonds to your hair, helping to strengthen and mend damaged follicles.

Because prevention is better than cure… !

Imagine wearing a silk blouse every single day – indoors and outdoors, in the heat, cold, rain… everywhere. It would get pretty beat up, right? This, essentially is what’s happening to your hair, which is delicate, fragile and needs looking after on a regular basis. Treat your hair like an expensive fabric, and it will last longer and look good. Treat it roughly and it will seem battered, torn and frayed into split ends. The best way to get rid of split ends is to prevent new ones from occurring. And this is how to do that:

1. Cut out the chemicals

Chemical processes like hair color, highlights, straightening and perms cause trauma that can break down the cuticle. When the cuticle is weakened, split ends are bound to appear at all points along the hair shaft. Try to limit chemical treatments to just one major hair concern and refrain from washing strands for at least 48 hours afterward, when they’re most porous and likely to break and split.

2. Reduce the heat

Heat is often the main cause of split ends as it drastically reduces the hair’s natural moisture balance. Heat also temporarily alters the hair’s protein structure, thereby causing physical trauma. Hence, repeated use of heated tools like flat irons and blow dryers should be avoided. If heat styling is a must, first spray hair with a thermal protectant to prevent split ends.

split ends 33. Preserve the moisture barrier

Deep conditioning with hydrating products is great for split end prevention. These products lubricate the hair fiber and keep it soft and supple. They also shield hair from the harsh sun and other environmental stressors like wind and humidity. Protein treatments, in the meantime, reinforce the cuticle and hair shaft so they can resist premature chipping, peeling and breakage.

4. Use a wide-tooth comb

After you’ve applied conditioner, slowly run a wide-tooth comb through hair until all the tangles are out. This prevents the snaps and breakage that can incur when you try to brush out hair that’s roughed up from a towel-dry.

5. Take folic acid and biotin

It’s true – you are, literally, what you eat. Nutrients are what sustain the structure of your hair strands. Two B-vitamins in particular – folic acid and biotin – have been shown to supplement hair health, length and thickness. Folic acid (green leafy veggies, oranges, soybeans and wheat) helps the production of red blood cells, which power the growth of hair. Biotin (brown rice, lentils, peas, sunflower seeds, walnuts and soybeans) strengthens both hair and nails through its metabolism of fats, carbs and proteins.

6. Get regular cuts

Whatever your hair type or style, experts recommend you get a cut or trim every 6-8 weeks. The longer you wait to trim, the greater chance you have of split ends worsening and traveling up the shaft.

Do you have any tried-and-true remedies for split ends?  Share them in the comments!

How NOT to look sick (yes, even when you are sniffling away)

Red, watery eyes, runny nose, blotchy skin and chapped lips… having a cold or the flu isn’t very nice. It’s not just that you feel awful but you don’t look too pretty either. But there’s no need to let a nasty chill wreak havoc with your looks (or your plans). Master these easy beauty tricks and face the world looking terrific, despite the sniffles.

sick-day-makeupHide a cold #1: Glow of health

If the winter chills have left your complexion looking tired and pasty, use a gentle cleansing scrub to rev up circulation and make skin glow. Follow with a hydrating, vitamin-rich moisturiser, like Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Power Concentrate, to soothe soreness around the nose.

Pale, sick faces sometimes need a bit of artificial health pumped into them – a sweep of blush will make you look sprightly and healthy.

Hide a cold #2: Get rid of the red

Red and blotchy skin is a sure sign of an unhappy immune system. Use products that counter the redness, like Smashbox’s Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primer, then damp-sponge on a sheer liquid foundation to even out the skin tone.

Bring out the skin brighteners like Stila’s One Step Illuminate. Unlike many other makeup products, which contain titanium dioxide – a white substance that adds opacity (not what you want when you are tired) – skin brighteners pack crushed rose quartz and mother-of-pearl, which reflect light to perk up your skin.

Hide a cold #3: Eye bright

Caking concealer over dark circles will only emphasise them further. Instead, dot some where your eye meets the bridge of your nose and blend outwards. Opt for a lightweight concealer that’s one shade lighter than your skin tone. Clinique’s Even Better Concealer is perfect for this. Follow with a light layer of loose powder. 

And that’s not all: Brighten up groggy eyes with over-the-counter eyedrops that will give them a good cleanse and tone down redness. Plus, run a white eyeliner along the inside rim to make tired eyes look fresher. Also remember that watery eyes can make your mascara run in nasty streaks. So, when colds strike, go waterproof.

Hide a cold #4: Lip service

Dry, cracked lips are painful and ugly. Restore their smoothness with this old-school trick: brush your lips with a toothbrush smeared in Vaseline. This will buff off any loose skin and leave your lips soft and rosy.

For a more permanent solution, heal cracked or damaged lips with a super salve like Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil.

Finally, slick on a little lip gloss; lipsticks are usually to drying and hence avoidable during this time.

How do you deal with being sick? Are you the indulge-me type or do you prefer to just get up and keep going?

16 hacks to make your sheet masks infinitely more effective!

Sheet masks. The breakthrough genre that has made #masking a verb comes with its own set of challenges.

When to use a sheet mask? Which one to use? How to make it stay on the face? Do I rinse afterwards or not? What about moisturising afterwards – yes or now? Should I really #sheetmask everyday? Is pricier always better? Can I skip all other skincare if I use sheet masks regularly? Are all sheet masks good? Are they for everybody?

So. Many. Questions.

Let’s start looking at the answers.

Start with a clean canvas

It sounds like the most common of logic but I know at least two friends who regularly slap on sheet masks without washing their face first, unless they are wearing makeup. But makeup or not, you need to start with a squeaky clean canvas so that skin can best absorb all the active ingredients. Plus, without a good wash you also run the risk of trapping in impurities and forcing them deeper into the skin. So, at the very least wash with a gentle cleanser right before masking. And if you want to go the extra mile, use a toner to really mop up the grease and soften the skin to make it more receptive to the mask’s benefits.

One mask does not fit all

Like traditional masks, different varieties solve different skin issues. So take a look at the ingredients and pick out exactly what you need:

  • Dryness: The most hydrating masks are those that contain hyaluronic acid, which makes skin retain more moisture. And skip anything with alcohol or irritating fragrances, which will further dry out your skin.
  • Dullness: To bring back the glow, look for brightening ingredients like vitamin C, niacinamide and pearl powder or extracts.
  • Sensitive or irritated skin: Anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera and other soothing botanicals will help calm down your skin.
  • Anti-aging: Opt for nutrient-rich masks, especially those which list collagen or vitamin B12 as a prime ingredient.

Look at the ingredients…

While sheet masks are a super-potent way of getting maximum skin benefits in minimum time, they are not perfect. Many of the generic versions contain chemicals that are damaging both for the skin and our overall health. Some to avoid: alcohol, parabens, synthetic dyes, mineral oil and preservatives such as ethylhexylglycerin and phenoxyethanol.

… and the sheet itself

Sheet masks come in all forms, from paper and fiber to tin foil and bio-cellulose. Those made from “clingy” ingredients like hydrogel, coconut, sea kelp and bio-cellulose adhere to the skin most tightly, forming a tight seal and delivering the ingredients most effectively. They are also the easiest to apply, as they don’t keep slipping off the skin like the fiber and foil versions. Even if you’re going for fiber, try and make sure it’s unbleached and 100% cotton, to minimise toxic materials from touching your skin and leading to toxic issues.

Super-charge your sheets

How and where you store and apply your sheet mask may double or triple its benefits. If your skin is irritated, inflamed, over-heated or simply needs a hefty pick-me-up, try to chill your mask in the refrigerator before applying. Or if you want to make it more hydrating, pop it on while you’re in the shower (or sauna). The water-charged steam particles will intensify the moisture plumping molecules.

Tweak your technique

To make the mask adhere most effectively and sans air pockets, start applying the sheet from the forehead, then line up with the eyes and work downwards towards the chin. But don’t stop there: for dull skin and anti-ageing benefits, lightly massage the sheet upwards to boost blood flow; for inflamed or irritated skin, go downwards and outwards to encourage lymphatic drainage.

A photo posted by Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss) on

Customise your sheet

How many times have you struggled with a sheet mask that simply refuses to conform to the contours of your face? Know that it’s perfectly fine to snip or tear off tiny bits to make it sit flush against your face. I usually end up enlarging the mouth area as sheet masks tend to irritate my lips, which have some of the most fragile skin anywhere on the body.

Max out the essence

It’s the fluid in a sheet mask that holds all the skin boosting goodness. So, don’t waste a drop of this precious essence! Scoop out any leftover essence in the packet (there’s always some!) and slather it all over your neck, chest, hands and feet to spread the love.

Longer is NOT better

Always, always check the instructions on the back of the pack. If it says you should apply the mask for 20 minutes, don’t assume that leaving it on for longer will increase the benefits. On the contrary, once the mask starts to dry, it will start sucking out moisture from your skin. And it will also increase skin temperature, which can increase the bacteria count, leading to acne and other skin issues. So, make sure you watch the clock!

Consider multi-masking

If one sheet mask is good, are two better? When paired prudently, most definitely. Experts advocate starting with a purifying clay or mud mask to open up the pores and cleanse them of debris; then rinse it off and follow with a sheet mask to flood the skin with beneficial ingredients. This will super-charge the efficacy of the sheet mask, while also purifying the skin, the latter being something that sheet masks rarely achieve (more on this in a bit).

Pair sheet masks with an eye mask

In a similar vein of multitasking, pop on an eye mask under your sheet mask. Not only will it cut your masking time by half, it will also super-charge your eye mask with some hefty hydration.

Don’t wash it off!

Unless you have super-acne prone skin or have to head out of the house (that’s why I usually apply a sheet mask right before bedtime), don’t wash off the residue after lifting away the sheet. It may seem a little sticky at first but the leftover fluid is potent with beneficial nutrients and is meant to be absorbed into the skin. And for maximum benefit, don’t just pat it into the skin. Instead, use this as an opportunity to give yourself a mini facial massage – the creaminess of the serum will help the massage, while the massage will help the serum sink deeper into the skin. Double whammy!

What comes after a sheet mask?

Remember that a sheet mask is serum based. So, follow it up with a moisturiser to seal in the treatment and multi-charge the benefits.

A photo posted by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on

But… remember that sheet masks can’t replace traditional masks

While sheet masks are the current super-heroes of skincare, there’s one thing that they can’t do well: deep cleansing or purifying the skin. That’s because they are loaded with serums that sink into the skin rather than, say a clay-based mask, that draws impurities out of the skin.

But… they can’t replace your daily serum

Unless you’re using a sheet mask twice a day, every single day – and not only will that get seriously expensive, you’re at risk of overloading your skin and clogging your pores by doing this – you still need your daily serums. So, think of sheet masks as more of a booster rather than a replacement for your daily skincare rituals.

But… remember that sheet masks may not be great for acne-prone skin

Sheet masks are loaded with sticky fluids, they may not be the best idea for acne-prone skin. Plus, the occlusion raises skin temperature (on an average, from 89.6 to 98.6 degrees), which boosts the growth of acne-causing bacteria. So, if you’re prone to pimples, first do a patch test and wait a couple of days to see if it aggravates the condition before going full steam with a sheet mask. And whenever you do use a mask, try and opt for a gel-based one rather than a cloth-based formula as that’s less likely to cause breakouts.

Which is your favourite sheet mask?

Beauty emergencies: How to fix a bad-everything day

We’ve all had them. No matter how well you maintain your beauty routine – and let’s face it, things can be erratic at times – nobody escapes a pre-party zit or hungover eyes. Or you could be like me and have it all at once at least four times a month! My skin ages 10 years, my make-up only makes matters worse and my lips look as if I’ve spent two weeks in the Arctic… forget bad hair days, these are paper-bag days. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to rescue a seemingly hopeless situation. Here’s how to cope when everything goes wrong.

beauty-emergency-2The bad hair day

Frizzy locks? Rub a bit of conditioner on your hands and work it through to the ends. This will tame flyaway strands. In a pinch, a drop of ordinary hand cream will do the trick.

Limp and lank strands? Put on a headband so that it lifts hair up off the face. Spray hair with a volumizer; wait 10 minutes and then remove the ‘band.

Greasy hair? Rub antibacterial gel over your hands, then rake your fingers through the hair before you brush and blast it dry. The gel’s high alcohol content will dissolve build-up.

The tired face

Skimped on sleep? Looking washed out? Skip the full face of makeup. When you’re tired, blood is circulated away from the skin to boost major organs like the lungs and liver, making the complexion look pasty. This means your usual make-up will not sit very well and shall possibly even make things worse. Instead, go for moisturiser, eye drops, a light brushing of face powder, lip gloss and, if possible, a pair of sunglasses.

Baggy eyes

Still carrying around last night’s baggage? Drink loads of water to flush out the toxins. Then, gently pat either aloe vera gel or an eye mask on those puffy zones to draw out remaining impurities. Or dab on some witch hazel – diluted with double the amount of water – as it’s wonderful at busting toxins.

Panda eyes

Global makeup authority Bobbi Brown has the cure: always apply your eye cream before your concealer to hydrate the delicate under-eye skin and make concealer go on smoothly. She also suggests choosing a concealer one shade lighter than your foundation. Work it from the under-eye area up to the lower lash line and, most importantly, the innermost corner. This is the most recessed area of the face and hence appears darkest.

Acne attack

If you notice a spot developing, wrap an ice cube in a thin handkerchief and gently massage it over the blemish for 10 seconds. Repeat every hour to bring down the swelling and reduce redness. Follow with a formulation that contains 2% salicylic acid and dab some concealer for on-the-spot camouflage.

beauty-emergenciesUnkissable lips

Olive oil is a terrific quick fix for lips, especially when you’ve forgotten your lip balm. It’s a terrific moisturiser and you can find it just about everywhere. Rub it into your lips, elbows, feet or anywhere else that needs a little TLC.

Stained teeth

If red wine and coffee (or cigarettes!) have stained your teeth, avoid lipsticks with orange, yellow or beige hues. The key to making teeth look whiter is contrast. So, choose bright reds or reds with a blue base instead.

Nails not up to scratch

Mix a bit of coconut oil or olive oil with salt and baking powder. Rub this mixture all over your hands, on the palms, up to the wrists and particularly on the nails. The oil acts as a moisturiser and the baking powder releases oxygen into the skin to plump out any fine lines and increase the circulation. The salt, in the meantime, acts as a gentle exfoliant to bust dead skin and soften the cuticles.

Smelly, grungy feet

This one needs a 3-part solution:

Rather than removing chipped polish on your toes and starting again, mask it with a coat of darker colour.

If you have a pearly eyeshadow that’s all broken up and is ready for the bin, break it down even further and mix it with a little moisturiser. Rub the mixed-up lotion into your feet for soft skin that has a sexy sheen.

If you get smelly feet, crush fresh mint in a bowl of warm water. Submerging your feet in this concoction will remove any unpleasant odours.

Streaky fake tan

Ah, the joys of the self-tan. For those who’ve been well and truly tangoed, try these tips:

If it’s really disastrous, go swimming. Local pools are notorious for having lots of chlorine and this will bleach away the tan.

If you have darker knees and ankles, rub a little whitening toothpaste into the area using a circular motion. The toothpaste will gently exfoliate and the whitening agent will remove colour.

What’s your secret beauty quick-fix? Share with us in the comments box below!