Split ends are the bane of our existence in those long weeks in between haircuts. They occur when our strands become dry and frayed from things like heat styling, weather changes and even hair care products. In a recent viral video, TikTok user Kaitlyn Roundtree shared a skin-care related trick to get her ends back on the mend, and it involves The Ordinary’s $7 Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum.
In her video, Roundtree says she applied the skin-care serum to her ends every night for two weeks and now has soft, manageable hair. To find out if our HA serums are the new split-end menders, we asked hair experts to explain how hyaluronic acid works on damaged hair and if it’s a TikTok trend worth trying.
What HA Does for Hair
“Hyaluronic acid is a humectant,” explains Wayne, NJ facial plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist Jeffrey B. Wise, MD. “That means it pulls water from its environment to hydrate whatever it comes in contact with. HA works really well to retain water and when you use it on your skin, you’re preventing moisture from evaporating from your skin’s barrier, keeping it moisturized and plumped up throughout the day.”
HA works in the same way for hair, attracting water to the hair shaft. “Hair cuticles are keratin protein, not HA,” says Spokane, WA dermatologist Wm. Philip Werschler, MD. “The hair shaft is much like a shingle on the roof of a house. Over time and with environmental stress, the cuticle breaks down and the hair shaft gets frizzy or splits. There are multiple methods of repair of course, and HA is a tremendous water-binding lubricant.”
Should you be Using Your Face Serum?
According to Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. Honet, MD, yes and no. “Hyaluronic acids in hair-care products certainly work by pulling water molecules into the hair shaft, just like it does in skin-care products and in dermal fillers, but this is only a temporizing effect when applied to the hair. The hydration will eventually evaporate off and may even do so quite quickly depending on the ambient humidity.”
“Unless the formulation is very straightforward and is minimal in ingredients, I would not recommend using the same hyaluronic acid created for skin on the hair itself,” adds New York trichologist Shab Reslan.
How to Apply
If you are going to apply hyaluronic acid to your strands, Reslan says to do it on towel-dried hair that has been sufficiently blotted so there’s no excess water dripping. “Start by applying to the hair in your crown area which is known for being more frizzy and unmanageable,” she says. “Comb through your ends with a gentle detangling brush like The Ultimate Detangler by Tangle Teezer ($14) so you can distribute your product evenly and remove tangles without damaging your hair when it’s wet and super sensitive.”
Try This Instead
While TikTok videos are great for sharing DIY ideas, our hair experts say this is one you can skip as there are better options available for protecting and repairing hair. “I think it’s important to mention oil treatments for damaged hair, especially argan oil, as these last longer than HA treatments and do much the same thing,” says Dr. Werschler.
Dr. Honet agrees that argan oil is a better alternative. “I am a big fan of argan oils, especially the cold-pressed version. Oils will seal in hydration into the dry hair shaft and prevent evaporation of hydration, much like moisturizers seal in hydration into the skin.”
“Keep in mind that truly healthy hair starts from within,” notes Dr. Wise. “If your hair is dry and brittle, or even falling out due to underlying conditions, perhaps those would be more important to address first to get your hair back to health.”