The title of this story isn’t clickbait—I actually didn’t get a haircut or a trim for almost a year. Do I regret going that long without one? Yes. As a member of the Mane Addicts team, should I be on probation for leading such a nasty life? Yes. Has my hair looked worse? No. In an effort to add inches naturally and grow my hair way past my chest, I stopped getting regular trims and broke up with my blow dryer, heat tools, and for the most part, my trusty styling products. From roots to mid-shaft, my hair slowly regained its strength and moisture, but with a lack of haircuts came a visit from the cockroach of hair—split ends. Split ends formed in exorbitant numbers throughout my mane, making the ends of my air-dried curls look increasingly crunchy, dry, and damaged. Meanwhile I started picking at and tearing them, obsessively. At a stoplight, in the middle of work, during dinner with friends—you name the time and place, my desire to slay split ends loomed.
A serious compulsion to pick at split ends can be a sign of trichotillomania, according to this We Women article. Desperate to even out my haircut (and clearly, my life), I sent an SOS email to Cervando Maldonado. The co-founder of 454 North Salon, who’s also known for the coveted cuts and styles of Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Reese Witherspoon, Naomi Watts, and more was game for giving my mane a makeover. The universe was on my side.
Smack dab in the middle of West Hollywood, 454 North Salon is tucked behind an assuming set of black wrought iron gates, and set back on a large lot. Its entrance is adorned by a tall, billowy tree, and a wall of bougainvillea. Apparently the place has history too: a black bench at the tree’s base was built my Harrison Ford, and the two-story building itself by MOCA’s architect. Though the entire scene exudes effortless Cali cool-girl, Cervando and Chris Bragg (the salon’s other founder) tell me they have plans to add a touch of Los Angeles luxe to the place, which will come full circle this September.
In I went for my appointment with Cervando. He pulls up a picture of French singer-songwriter Vanessa Paradis circa 1990 wearing an all-one-length long cut, and says that’s his vision for me. Excited as hell, I concur. But then I remembered the real reason I was there—my split end obsession, and not to be transformed into a French It girl (though the latter was a major bonus). For the virgin-haired or the split end-less, split ends occur when a single strand of hair starts breaking apart at the end of the hair follicle. Picking your split ends does three things: drives you insane, causes even more split ends and makes your hair uneven. Seriously uneven was my hair when it met Cervando’s shears (see the photo above). It was also drowning in split ends. Somehow I let myself get sucked into the vicious cycle of picking. His squad blew my hair out really straight so that he could do the honors. Cutting my hair dry was the only option because when hair is wet, it’s near impossible to see the split ends. Cervando started trimming my extremely-dead ends, and performed a little dusting up and down from mid-shafts to ends. Dusting is a technique used to remove split ends quickly without compromising hair length. Too much dusting, Cervando notes, can thin the hair out so make sure your stylist doesn’t over dust.
As my lifeless, good-for-nothing ends fell to the floor, I felt lighter. So much lighter. While he snipped away, I promised myself I would never pick another split end again. The aftermath: Healthy-looking, split end-less locks that swayed mid hair flip the same way they do in hair commercials. Despite removing about an inch and a half, Cervando was able to maintain my length—exactly what I was afraid wouldn’t remain if I got a trim or haircut. Experts agree there’s no way to remedy split ends without actually cutting them off. That or, as Cervando told me, organic coconut oil does the trick. For curly, coarse or thick hair types—Cervando suggests applying on hair and going about your business either in the shower, at the gym or while running errands, then rinsing. For thin or fine hair types, Cervando says it’s important that before rinsing the coconut oil out to apply shampoo on the hair, otherwise the hair will absorb the oil and weigh it down.
Moral of the story—your hair won’t stop growing if you skip regular trims for a while, but it will appear thinner and frayed, create split ends and increase tenfold the likelihood that you’ll pick them (maybe, maybe not). The ends are the oldest part of our hair after all, and when you neglect them like I did they can weigh down your hair texture (in my case, my air-dried wavy curls). Alas, my split end picking days are over for good. Now every time I’m at a stoplight, I glance at my gorgeous, healthy-looking ends and utter a little thank you to Captain Save-a-Split-End-Sinner Cervando Maldonado.