So first and foremost, let’s be clear on this, it is impossible to heal split ends.
And you are probably asking yourself, “So why am I still reading this?”
Because I will be letting you in on everything you need to know about split ends and how to effectively manage them to retain length. Helpful right?
What are split ends?
Split ends also known as Trichoptilosis (who knew it had such a sophisticated name?) is the splitting or fraying of the hair-shaft due to excessive heat and mechanical stress. It occurs when the protective cuticle has been stripped away from the ends of hair fibres (because once the cuticle is removed it cannot be replaced). Split ends develop mostly in dry or brittle hair. They are an unsightly, annoying and unattractive hindrance that get in the way of healthy hair growth and cause more concern than is warranted for such an easy condition to cure (as you would think).
Causes of Split Ends:
Split ends may be caused by any of the following;
1. Thermal stress (the use of curling irons, blow dryers and other heat treatments),
2. Chemical stress (excessive application of hair products such as perms, relaxers and hair colouring) or
3. Mechanical or manual stress (pulling a brush excessively and forcefully through tangled hair and repeated combing, hand in hair syndrome)
Split ends can also be seen as symptom of copper transport disorders such as Menkes disease and occipital horn syndrome (but that is not a discussion for today).
Does it sounds like almost everything you do to your hair ends in splits? Anyway hold on there’s more, you can’t however, get splits by rubbing the hair up towards the scalp (so take note).
Honestly, there is no remedy for split ends. Some products claim to heal split ends by sealing the ends back together but all they do is mask it, by temporarily gluing them together, such that as soon as you pass a comb, brush or shampoo through them they unglue.
And you are probably wondering, “why not just cut your losses, trim them and move on” Yeah, trimming the ends of the hair seems to be the only solution but guess what? Trimming doesn’t still remove all the splits because there are different lengths of hair throughout your head due to the growth phase of each hair follicle (stay put, more surprises ahead).
After all of the above, we can safely say, “prevention is better than cure” in managing split ends. So let’s jump right in.
How to Prevent Split Ends
1. Don’t just Trim, Trim it properly
The best time to start preventing your hair from split ends is right after you get your hair trimmed (reason for being the 1st method on my list and the method you should use).
Trim your hair regularly with sharp hair shears only or scissors that are designed for cutting hair making sure that you only use it for cutting hair and nothing else. Clean cutting is very important to prevent split ends, and only sharp shears can guarantee a clean break. Using your scissors to clip coupons or to perform other random tasks will dull your shears and using such shears will make your split end situation even worse.
Trim your hair when dry and not wet. Just like when you are cutting paper. Cutting wet paper does not give you as clean a cut as cutting the same paper dry. The same principle applies to your hair. Getting your hair cut while wet could potentially cause splits ends and damage in the future especially if the shears are dull. Reasons for this include:
- You will get a better shaped cut when your hair is cut dry. Remember your hair stretches and has a totally different look while it is wet.
- When your hair is dry, you can clearly see split, fray ends.
Trimming the ends of the hair at least every 6– 10 weeks may prevent split ends because hair at the highest risk for splitting can be removed or instead of trimming every 8 weeks, you can go a bit longer, not exceeding 16 weeks at a time. Be sure to cut split ends at least 1/8 inches above the damaged area.
Tip: Separate small sections of your hair and twist it from the ends like corkscrew. The various lengths will stick out along each section showing exactly where the split ends are and you just have them clipped off. It takes forever but if you want to grow your hair long without split ends, it’s very effective. This method keeps the length because it targets only the split ends instead of just cutting the ends of your hair.
2. To end splits, try less heat
As stated earlier, heat is, often times, the main cause of split ends resulting from physical hair trauma, because heat temporarily alters the hair’s protein structure, which is supposed to keep the hair’s moisture balance in check thereby reducing it.
Repeated use of heated styling tools should be avoided, as that goes without saying that every time you blow dry, flat iron, or use hot rollers, you are contributing to breakage and split ends.
If heat styling is a must, then use it on freshly conditioned, clean hair that has been sprayed with a thermal protectants every time and never let your heat styling tool sit on one part of your hair longer than 2 seconds at a time, to prevent split ends.
Use other stretching methods such as styling your hair wet and letting it air dry or even African threading. If you absolutely need to use the blow dryer, then turn down the heat and blast at low temperatures. You can also check this out.
3. Cut Out the Chemicals
Chemical processes like colour treatments, relaxers, keratin treatments, perms and hair products with alcohol and drying agents add spice to any style, but they must get deep into the hair’s cuticle to work their magic. Unfortunately, to get inside, these chemicals must break down and degrade the cuticle. When the cuticle is weakened, split ends are bound to appear at all points along the hair shaft.
Chemical treatments will only aggravate dryness and lead to a number of problems that will make your hair health suffer from broken ends. If you currently use any chemical treatments you will find a noticeable difference when you stop using them.
Also, the frequency of your bleach and permanent hair colour usage doesn’t really matter, one time is all it takes to cause irreversible damage. If you can’t live without the colour, try a semi-permanent treatment, or deposit-only colours and rinses, instead.
Deep condition every two weeks to add moisture to your hair and ends; only do root touch-ups when you have a noticeable amount of new growth. Seal your ends with a nourishing all-natural oil blend after each co wash.
4. STOP manipulating your hair
If you’ve ever believed that myth that when you brush the full length of your hair everyday it will grow long, kindly drop it because that is actually one of the worst things that you can do to your hair. In fact, it’s better to avoid brushing your hair period or at least do so very infrequently. Rimmed combs and hard bristle brushes are capable of ripping and tearing at your hair, which of course can leave behind some nasty splits behind.
Try to minimize daily manipulation of the hair, for example excessive brushing and combing or manipulating it into a hairstyle every day. Learn to have second and third day hair because styling and re-styling your hair every day is manipulation that can lead to damage.
The less hair manipulation the less you’ll experience rapid split ends. Remember, the ends of your hair are the oldest portions of your hair, making it easy for them to break at the slightest bit of strain.
Also, your hair strands are weaker when they are soaking wet, which can lead to more shed hairs while detangling with a comb or brush. If your fingers alone don’t get the job done, apply a generous amount of leave-in that contains a ton of slip so that it glides through your hair with no tug. Start from about one inch away from your scalp, gradually working your way down gently.
Thoroughly condition and moisturize your hair before installing extensions or creating a protective style. Otherwise, you could be encouraging more split ends and breakage by roughly tearing through your hair or heavily manipulating it with harsh styling products.
Fit some simple protective hairstyles into your regimen like a bun, tuck in roll style, or a low manipulation updo. When you wear your hair out all the time it becomes vulnerable to friction from your shirt collar or your coat. The weather conditions cause its fair share of damage to your ends by drying them out, so pleeese be gentle.
5. Create a Moisture Barrier using the right technique
Daily moisturizing with water-based moisturizing products and oiling the hair as a seal will also help prevent split ends. These products lubricate the hair fiber and keep the hair soft and supple. They also shield the hair from the harsh sun and other environmental hair stressors, like wind and humidity.
Deep conditioning weekly with quality moisturizing conditioners and protein reconstructors is great for split end prevention. Protein treatments reinforce the cuticle and hair shaft so that they can resist premature chipping, peeling and breaking, while moisturizing deep conditioners help restore the hair’s delicate moisture balance.
Your ends require lots of love! So when you moisturize and condition your hair focus heavily on your ends which are more vulnerable to split ends than the roots because it is the driest area of the hair which is why sealing your ends should be incorporated in your regular hair routine.
Use the technique “Poo on top, condition on bottom.” which simply means using shampoo on the scalp only and adding plenty of conditioner and leave-in conditioner on the ends of the hair.
6. Pay attention to hair accessories and tools.
Stay away from accessories with metal connector, metal edges or brushes that tug and pull against the elasticity of the hair because they snag and break your hair. Barrettes (or what you may call hair clip, clasp, or hair-slide) and rubber bands are good examples of this.
Rubber band have got to be worst one you can use because they can tear and pull at your hair when you take them out especially when it has been repeatedly twisted round the hair. Opt for elastic bands covered with fabric without metal closures like the ones in the picture below, which comes in different colours.
7. Protect your hair from all elements
And by all elements I mean sun, absorbent cotton scarves and pillowcases, destructive detangling, towel drying with soft fluffy towels, restless fingers and untrimmed fingernails.
How do you achieve this feat?
- In the sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat or a breathable headwrap. Like your skin, your hair strands are prone to UV and free radical damage and aging. Use a protective shampoo before going outside for a long period of time.
- If a hat cramps your style, tuck your ends away with a braid or mini twists that have been oiled first.
- At night, wear a satin scarf around your head or sleep on a pillowcase.
- If you like to use a tool to detangle then use wide tooth combs on wet hair, but if you have the patience, finger detangling is your best option.
- Traditional cloth towels will remove the much needed moisture from your hair so when next you shower use an old t-shirt to dry your hair instead of a towel, you should see less frizz and dryness right away.
- Have a habit of twirling or touching your hair a lot? You may have a case of Hand in Hair Syndrome. Stop it! If you don’t do it all the time no big deal. However, if you find yourself constantly digging in your hair you’re causing some damage.