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Split ends can be caused by all sorts of things, like “heat damage, infrequent trims, and even [harsh ingredients like] sulfates in shampoos,” celebrity hair stylist Jessica Elbaum tells Elite Daily, but they’re exacerbated by dryness and other forms of damage. Accordingly, the best shampoos for split ends contain hydrating, bond-restoring, and repairing ingredients and don’t include sulfates. Elbaum is a fan of vitamin-rich shea butter and argan oil, while celebrity hair stylist Philip B., who also spoke to Elite Daily for this article, recommends fats, emollients, hydrators, and moisture binders. To be more specific, he names safflower oleosomes for long-lasting hydration, L-amino acids for hair shaft restoration, and soy- and wheat-derived proteins and peptides for optimal efficacy.
In order to choose the right shampoo for you, it helps to understand what’s causing your hair breakage in the first place. Philip B. explains that the sebum found on our scalps contains protective lipids that help keep our hair strong, flexible, and healthy. “The farther down the hair shaft you go, the less fat and moisture is available [from sebum]. By the time we hit the ends, it can be a desert,” he says. “As hair loses moisture and lipids, its keratinized protein begins to break down and unravel. As it loses its strength and elasticity, the bonds become weak and eventually it dismantles and splits.” Enter: the split end.
Some other expert-approved ways to help repair split ends include brushing your hair regularly to distribute the sebum from your scalp, and using a hair mask or hair oil weekly. But of course, selecting the right shampoo is key — so scroll on to shop 12 of the best shampoos for split ends, all of which are sulfate-free and loaded with nourishing ingredients.
1. An Affordable Repairing Shampoo From An Eco-Conscious Brand
Not only does Love Beauty and Planet’s Hope and Repair Shampoo come at a great price, but the brand puts an emphasis on responsible ingredients sourcing, cutting down on waste, and supporting environmentalists through their work with Ashoka, a non-profit organization. They’re also transparent with consumers about their supply chain and manufacturing processes, and aim to be as carbon-conscious as possible. So basically, this is a brand you can feel good about supporting. But back to the shampoo. Formulated specifically for split ends and dryness, this vegan shampoo uses coconut oil and ylang ylang as the star ingredients in the formula, which work together to leave your hair feeling repaired and refreshed. You get 32 ounces of product for less than $15, so it’s an amazing value, too.
2. A Luxury Pick If You’re Looking To Splurge
What makes Philip B. Forever Shine Shampoo next-level is its delivery mechanism into the hair shaft: High-vapor energy preps the safflower oleosomes and sweet blue lupine peptides into ultra-small particles that each hair strand is able to deeply absorb. This nourishes and strengthens hair from within, and helps prevent breakage by promoting strand flexibility (i.e., elasticity). This luxe pick is finished off by the incorporation of fragrant oud, which gives this shampoo a sweet, woody scent. Expect extreme bounciness and shine with just one use.
3. This Hydrating Shampoo Made With Botanicals Sourced From The Amazon Rainforest
Using Amazon-sourced oils and protein-bonding sugars, this Rahua shampoo aims to restore hydration to dried-out hair and smooth the hair cuticle — both things that make this an amazing choice for people with split ends. Notable ingredients include morete oil, also known as buriti oil, which cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline says is full of nutrients like fatty acids, beta-carotene, and antioxidants; sacha inchi oil, which contains beneficial omega-3s; and rahua seed oil, which has all sorts of strengthening benefits for your hair and scalp. This smells great (think: tropical fruits like passion fruit and mango) and helps boost shine, too.
4. This Salon-Brand Shampoo That Protects & Preserves Color-Treated Hair
If you have hair that’s feeling dry or looking dull, you’re bound to appreciate this Pureology Nanoworks Gold Shampoo. It contains nourishing ingredients like shea butter, sunflower seed oil, and marula oil to promote softer hair and treat extreme dryness, making it an effective pick for helping to repair hair breakage and split ends. Since Pureology specializes in preserving color, thanks to the brand’s patented Antifade Complex that’s found in all their shampoos, this is an especially good choice for anyone who dyes or highlights their hair.
5. A Bonding Shampoo That Helps Protect Hair From Heat & UV Damage
Another great (and more affordable) choice for color-treated hair, shampooing with Joico’s Defy Damage shampoo can help keep your hair healthy, protected, and strong. “This shampoo is one of my favorites,” Sarah Klein, hairstylist at Nine Zero One Salon in Los Angeles, CA, tells Elite Daily. “It’s a sulfate-free, bond-building formula that nourishes the hair and also protects from UV [rays] and heat damage.” You’ll find so many strengthening ingredients in here, including marula, moringa seed, and rosehip oils, and good-for-hair nutrients like lipids and arginine, making it another top contender for people with damaged hair and split ends.
6. This Prebiotic Shampoo To Help Promote Hair & Scalp Health
Jamila Powell, founder of Maggie Rose Salon, points out to Elite Daily that your scalp — and its microbiome of beneficial bacteria — is the root of all hair health. So if you’re hoping to restore your hair and scalp back to their strongest selves, pick up a bottle of IGK’s Legendary Dream Hair Shampoo. It uses prebiotics to promote a balanced scalp (in other words, to try and create the optimal environmental for healthy hair growth), as well as sea algae to boost hydration and shine. As an added bonus, it’s both vegan and cruelty-free.
7. An All-Around-Amazing Hydrating Shampoo From A Cult-y, Indie Brand
People who love Verb — an Austin-inspired, New York-based brand founded by a group of millennials — really love Verb. If you’re one of those people, or if you’ve heard great things about the brand, consider their hydrating shampoo. It’s an all-around great pick for anyone dealing with dryness and split ends, thanks to its formula that’s rich in amino acids, hydrolyzed quinoa protein, pro-vitamin B5, and sunflower seed extract, which work in tandem to restore moisture and provide UV protection. This salon-quality shampoo rings up under $20, so it’s a pretty good value, too.
8. To Help Prevent Breakage On A Budget
Meet the most budget-friendly way to make your hair more resilient against breakage and split ends. OGX Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil Shampoo uses a super-powered duo of argan oil and keratin proteins to help prevent breakage and maintain stronger hair over time. To top it all off, this supremely affordable shampoo smells great and comes in a generously sized, 13-ounce bottle. For less than $10, what’s not to love?
9. An Active-Rich Shampoo That Promotes Fuller Hair & A Healthy Scalp
LAPCOS Dr. 14 Vital Care Shampoo incorporates 14 different actives to nourish the scalp, restore its proper pH (i.e., the level of acidity needed to promote a healthy microbiome of good bacteria), and help each strand achieve its strongest potential. In addition to a medley of therapeutic oils from castor to sunflower seed sources, ingredients like hydrolyzed collagen and hydrolyzed soy protein help with moisture, softness, and strength. It’s a great choice for anyone dealing with dandruff or thinning hair in particular, since it contains two medicated ingredients — zinc pyrithione and salicylic acid — that are known to help with both of those things.
10. This Drugstore Pick That Uses Castor Seed Oil To Prevent Breakage
Along with hydrating shea butter, invigorating peppermint, and scalp-balancing apple cider vinegar, this shampoo from Shea Moisture contains castor oil, which is “made from the seeds of the ricinus communis plant and contains many fatty acids (mostly palmitic and ricinoleic), making it excellent for nourishing the scalp and hair,” naturopathic doctor Nadia Musavvir tells Elite Daily. “Split ends are largely due to dry hair, whatever the cause, and part of preventing them requires keeping the hair properly moisturized,” Musavvir says — so naturally, this deeply nourishing shampoo is a great choice for addressing both of those concerns.
11. A Gentle, Cult-Favorite Shampoo For All Hair Types
One last option to consider: the Don’t Despair, Repair! shampoo from cult-favorite brand Briogeo, which is free of silicones as well as sulfates and parabens. It won’t strip hair of the moisture it needs to stay strong and healthy, and it’s great for all hair types, including coils, waves, and curls. The key ingredients are antioxidant-rich algae extract, reparative B vitamins, and elasticity-promoting panthenol, a combination that’s amazing for repairing heat damage and split ends, and promoting general nourishment and protection. For best results, pair it with the brand’s best-selling hair mask from the same line.
Jessica Elbaum, celebrity hair stylist
Philip B., celebrity hair stylist
Nadia Musavvir N.D., naturopathic doctor
Jamila Powell, founder of Maggie Rose Salon in Davie, FL
Krupa Koestline, cosmetic chemist
Sarah Klein, hair stylist at Nine Zero One Salon in Los Angeles, CA