Bridal Beauty Timeline: 12 Months to Shiny, Healthy Hair

Work on Split Ends
Give in to the temptation to trim.
Give in to the temptation to trim.

A strand of hair splits when the cuticle cracks, exposing the inner layer, the cortex. Under the microscope, it looks jagged and splintered, like a tree limb that's been struck by lightning. Split ends aren't a pretty sight in wedding pictures, either.

Combating split ends can be a never-ending battle. The breakage begins at the tip and continually travels upward. There are ways to minimize the damage, however. First, trim the ends regularly. Hair grows about one-quarter to one-half an inch (about 1 centimeter) per month. Trimming every six to eight weeks should keep pace.

Try to avoid tight braids and tails that can cause breakage. And reconsider crimping, straightening and other similarly hair-stressing treatments. Friends may rave at your bedhead look today, but will they be equally impressive be your frizzed 'do next year?

Remember to shampoo with care. Save rubbing for the scalp, where the dirt is worst. If your hair is reasonably clean to start with, try using only a conditioner the rest of the way down.

If you start on these tips now, you may see some improvement by the wedding. If not, try products that are specifically designed to treat split ends. They contain chemical compounds that react with the keratin in hair to temporarily bridge the ends. A last-minute application of oil or hairspray will help, too. Then there's this cheat: Rub your hair with a dryer sheet. They work in the hair as they do with the laundry, neutralizing the static electricity that intensifies frizz.