PHOTO COURTESY OF SALON-SPA AT NOLITA

You want to grow your natural hair long, but constantly having to cut all of your split ends isn’t helping your retain any length. This is a common scenario that, believe it or not, is it possible to “fix” using a candlestick. The Velaterapia ("candle method") treatment literally uses a candle to burn off split ends.

Feel like playing with fire? Leave it to the pros.

“Of course, playing with fire certainly comes with a risk, and shouldn't be a DIY move," says celebrity hairstylist Anh Co Tran. "It takes major control, which can be hard. I like to see exactly what to cut and what not to cut, so with the burning method, if you don't stop it on time, you may take off more [hair] than you wanted." Like most specialized hair techniques, this one requires a well-trained stylist to get the job done right. Trying this at home isn’t like opening a box of dye, or color--leave it to the pros.

Ricardo Gomes, NYC Maria Bonita Salon stylist who has used the candle method for three years now says that "a lot of people get confused about the treatment because they think it has to do with the wax of the candle, but it actually involves just controlling the flame."

Like most specialized hair techniques, this one requires a well-trained stylist to get the job done right. Trying this at home isn’t like opening a box of dye, or color--leave it to the pros.

Other than playing with fire, clients, and stylists, also have to understand that the smell involved in this method isn’t always pleasant. Our hair contains keratin and sulfur. The burned hair smell can not only be extremely strong, but lingers for some time, too.

"It's not so far-fetched that we're playing with heat with the hair," says celebrity stylist Sarah Potempa, who explains that sometimes hairstylists use heat in other ways, like by heating their scissors before giving a haircut. She also adds that women put intense heat on their hair regularly at home with hot tools, anyway.

How the candle method is done

For best results, the candle method requires dry, straight to loose wavy hair, which is then sectioned into smaller pieces, which are twisted. Then, the stylist runs the flame over the frayed pieces which stick out of the twist and burns them off. By twisting each section, stylists can ensure that only damaged hairs are removed. After this part is done, the stylist washes the hair and adds a deep conditioning treatment. With the heat having opened the hair cuticle, it’s an opportunity for nourishing vitamins to be added to the scalp and sealed in for restoration and reparation. The treatment and cold wash and rinse ensure that the cuticle is closed and aids in the growth of new hair. Lastly, the hair is usually blown out and a last "spot check" for any leftover split ends is done.

And while the idea of having your split ends be gone may be a nice one, the method isn’t for everyone. "It's recommended for people who have pre-treated hair, highlights or use lots of hot tools. This is ideal for those people with lots of split ends who don't want to cut the length," says Gomes, who advises that only people with shoulder length hair or below consider the treatment.

And due to the nature of the candle method, it’s intense heat and shock to the hair, it is recommended that this method is only done every three to four months. In a salon such as Maria Bonita in NYC prices start at $150 and go to $250 depending on the type and length of the hair.