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There’s nothing worse than going to the hairdresser for a trim and unexpectedly leaving with three inches off. Especially when you’re trying to grow your hair out. But stylists want to rid you of those dry, damaged ends that will only split and actually fall off, leading to even shorter, more damaged-looking locks. While it’s fine to snip a split end or two on your own, you should leave the shaping and cutting of your hair to an expert.

But there are ways to get the long hair you want without giving up inches of growth. Just promise to try them before all your ends are dry, frizzy or split because once you’ve got more than a few split ends, it’s time for a cut.

Blow dry with care

Do you blast your locks with the hair dryer straight out of the shower? This is a no-no. Wet hair is highly vulnerable to damage, so blot wet hair with a towel then, if you have time, let it air dry until it’s 70 to 80 per cent dry before turning up the heat. Even then, try to keep the temperature at medium. Most importantly, use a pre-styling heat protector product on your tresses whenever you use hot tools. This prevents all the moisture on your hair from evaporating, leaving hair healthier and more conditioned. Try: Kérastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique, $43, kerastase.ca

Protect dry ends when washing

Before hopping in the shower, apply a conditioner or hair oil to the ends of your hair, then shampoo as usual. This will protect delicate ends from moisture loss. Shampoo is designed to remove excess oil from your roots and scalp and may be too harsh on dehydrated, damaged hair. The act of washing will rinse the oil or conditioner away before adding more conditioner. You’ll be surprised at how smooth your hair looks afterwards. Try: Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil, $3.99, well.ca

Use a hair mask

Whether you create a DIY mask from your fridge (half a cup of honey will moisturize dry hair), use coconut oil or buy a mask from the drug store, there are two ways to use it. Most of us wash our hair, apply a mask, wait the suggested time then rinse, and that’s great. But another way to infuse hair with moisture is to apply the mask before washing. Similar to applying a moisturizing product to the ends of your hair before shampooing, this protects hair while allowing you to add another layer of conditioner at the end.

If you use coconut oil or honey, you can apply it to dry hair before washing. If using a hair mask, hair should be damp. Leave the treatment on for 20 minutes (or recommended time on package), then continue with your usual washing routine. Try: Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, $14.29, well.ca

Eat right

Dry hair may be a symptom of a B-vitamin deficiency. Vitamin B-7 or Biotin, in particular, can help keep your hair and scalp rich in healthy oils that moisturize. A B-complex vitamin, including a range of other healthy B vitamins can help, as can ensuring that you’re eating foods high in vitamin B-7. These include almonds, sweet potatoes, oats, eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, soy, fish, legumes and mushrooms.

Use a hair oil

After washing, conditioning and pre-treating dry hair, try using a light hair oil throughout your hair or just on damaged ends. You can apply the oil before drying and/or afterwards to smooth flyaways and frizzy ends. Look for products that are naturally oil-based without too much silicone (listed as dimethicone or anything ending in icone on the ingredients list). Silicones will definitely smooth dry hair but they also build up on hair and can be hard to shampoo out, leaving hair looking dull, which is a particular problem for those of us who are trying to protecting our dry ends from shampoo in the first place. Try: Josie Maran 100 percent Pure Argan Oil Light, $60 for 1.7 oz, sephora.com

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