Is Burning Off Split Ends A Hair Hack Or Absolute Flop?

Split ends are one of the worst types of hair damage — they can make your locks appear dull and lifeless, and if not properly addressed, they can lead to more thinning and breakage. So how do you get rid of split ends? Any hair product that claims to fix your split ends is pulling the wool over your eyes. While popular keratin hair treatments can link split hairs back together, the results are only temporary, as this process does not repair or eliminate them. Rather, the treatment can help prevent split ends from getting worse and restore gloss and shine to hair. 

A particularly unique method of nixing split ends involves burning them off with an open flame. Yes, you read that right. Victoria's Secret model Alessandra Ambrosia had social media stirring when she posted a photo of her undergoing this process, otherwise known as a velaterapia hair treatment. It might sound strange, but could this be the answer to a runway-ready mane? Before scheduling an appointment, you may want to think twice before trying this method, as some experts are not convinced that this is the healthiest way to go about freshening up your tresses.

What is velaterapia?

Velaterapia is a professional hair treatment designed to remove split ends. The process is also referred to as candle cutting and has been a part of Brazilian culture for decades. At a salon (this procedure should only be done by professionals), your hair is twisted in small sections. A lit candle is passed up and down each section, sizzling off the frazzled ends. Afterward, your hair is treated with a deep conditioner. In an interview with Marie Claire, New York City-based salon owner Fernanda Lacerda said, "It's more effective than a normal haircut when the client wants to keep hair length and get rid only of the split ends."

Despite the tradition of candle cutting, experts say putting fire to your hair is not the best way to remove frayed ends nor is it recommended. Trichologist Elizabeth Cunnane-Phillips spoke with Refinery29 and warned, "While burning split ends might remove the split in the hair, you are also creating a potential vulnerability to the fiber itself, which results in weaker strands."

Hair stylist Matt Fugate is also against velaterapia. He told Charlotte's Book, "Anyone who is educated in the layers of the hair shaft knows that this kind of process will ruin your cuticle—your clear coat of protection—weaken your hair and expose your cortex layer to the environment." Using a flame to cauterize hair strands might not be the best way to remove split ends. So how should you get rid of frayed tips?

Best way to remove split ends

The only way to permanently (and safely) deal with split ends is by cutting them off. Unfortunately, they can not be repaired, and prolonging your trim can cause the splits to travel up the hair shaft. If it advances up the shaft, you'll have to cut more hair — so the sooner the trim, the better.

As celebrity stylist Garren shared with PureWow, "If the client has very damaged hair, I would recommend getting a trim every six weeks. People with already healthy hair can go up to [three] or [four] months between trims." It can be disheartening to see your strands float down to the salon floor, but it is the key to longer and healthier hair.

To help prevent split ends, you'll want to show your hair lots of love. When shampooing, use a sulfate-free product and focus on cleansing your scalp. Conditioner should be applied to the length of your hair. For a moisture boost, you can even add a hair mask or hair oil to your routine. Just don't forget your routine trims!