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Is there anything worse than split ends? Ugh, no, because they’re basically the worst, and sadly there is no magical product that is going to fix them for you. Once they’re split, they’re split, and once the strand of your hair breaks, it’s broken. There are only two surefire ways to deal with split ends: prevent them and cut them off when they happen.

That second part is pretty easy, but we’ve found a secret cultprit as to why you may be getting split ends, and it has to do with your shower routine.

Wet hair = Weak hair.

Our hair is pretty resilient, especially considering all the abuse we put it through: heat damage, chemical damage, tugging, pulling, and who knows what else. However, it is at its weakest when it is wet. That basically means it’s much more vulnerable to tangles, split ends, and breakage, especially if you just shampooed it. When your hair is clean, your strands don’t have natural oils coating them to protect themselves. Therefore, clean, wet hair is basically ripe for the breaking.

Brushing wet hair = noooooo.

Unfortunately, many of us take that clean, wet hair and do the same thing: We brush it. Brushing wet hair is super rough on the strands; you are basically begging for split ends. Using a wide-tooth comb is the better option, but it’s not the best. However, there are ways to minimize damage to your hair no matter how you’re brushing it.

Here’s how to prevent this kind of hair damage.

First things first, use a towel or old t-shirt to absorb any excess water from your hair. Do not rub your hair briskly back and forth between a towel — that can cause static, frizz, and more breakage! After that, use your fingers to comb through your hair. It’s even better to turn this move into a multi-tasking one and apply leave-in conditioner with your hands while you do this. Otherwise, apply a leave-in conditioner afterward.

Next, let it air dry for as long as you can. Once you do start combing it, use a wide-tooth comb and start from the ends up using short strokes. This will prevent you from snagging through any tangles and pulling your hair. If you must use a brush, avoid using a round brushes, metal-bristled brushes, or naturally-bristled brushes. These are meant for styling, not detangling, and will stretch your strands and cause your hair to break.

The kind of brush matters, too.

Credit: Sally Beauty

Instead, you should use a flat or oval-shaped brush with plastic bristles, such as the Wooden Cushion Paddle Brush By Brush Strokes. This will easily glide through your hair without causing static.

After that, you’re all set. You’ll have shiny, tangle-free hair that’s a little less prone to split ends and breakage, thanks in part to ditching the bad habit of brushing your hair right out of the shower.