Everybody who has hair on their head should know how to get rid of split ends because every hair type can have them, from straight to curly hair. Of course, not everybody will have the same degree of split ends because of differences in their hair type, the frequency of hairstyling (i.e., blow drying, perming or straightening), and the types of products used, among other factors.
Fortunately, there are several easy and effective methods of getting rid of split ends hair! These methods are just as effective whether you have slightly damaged hair or fried hair from excessive hair treatments.
What Are Split Ends?
Known as trichoptilosis – from the Greek word tricho (hair) and the New Latin word ptilosis (the arrangement of feathers) – in medical terms, split ends refers to the fraying or splitting of the hair shaft caused by the hair’s exposure to mechanical stress and excessive heat.
What Do Split Ends Look Like?
It’s easy to tell if you have split ends, especially if you have long hair. Be sure to check the ends of your hair under sufficient light since the beginnings of split ends aren’t immediately visible to the naked eye.
Take a section of your hair in your hands and inspect its ends for splitting or fraying. With split ends, the edges of your hair strands appear to split into two sections.
You may also observe that your hair looks straggly, dry, and uneven at the ends while the entire length of the strands looks flat, dull and dry.
While split ends commonly occur at the tips of the hair, these can also show up nearly everywhere in your hair. Aside from the hair splitting into two or more strands, split ends can also appear as white dots at the tips of your hair and as single strand knots, a more common occurrence in dry, curly hair.
The undesirable appearance is caused by the damaged cuticles, the overlapping scales covering the core of the hair strands, which doesn’t lie down flat against the hair’s fiber. Light then doesn’t reflect off the hair as well as in healthy hair and, thus, there’s less depth and luminosity to be seen.
Aside from appearances, damaged cuticles have less suppleness so these also don’t lie as smoothly against each other. These then become more tangled and knotted resulting in increased risk of breakage – the more your hair strands break, the more likely split ends will become worse. The cycle is repeated again and again until your hair becomes increasingly dull and dry with split ends on nearly every strand.
Indeed, hair split ends may not seem like a big issue in the general scheme of things but these can be a sign of improper hair care, even of its abuse. You must take prompt and appropriate action to ensure that these are resolved so as to regain healthy, lustrous and beautiful hair!
What Causes Split Ends?
Splits ends don’t just come on their own. These are typically caused by your actions toward your hair, whether deliberate or not, especially in terms of mechanical stress and exposure to heat. In many cases, the best ways how to fix split ends involve ceasing whatever harmful things you’re doing to your hair!
Take a look at these possible causes for split ends and see which ones you’re doing or not doing as part of your routine.
Flat irons, hot rollers, and blow dryers have their uses in hair care, especially in hair styling from straightening to curling hair.
But these can also become the main culprits in hair damage including breakage particularly when used frequently or excessively.
Heat can cause the strands to become dry and brittle so these are more prone to breakage. When the strands break, the split ends soon begin to appear.
Straightening, perming, and coloring treatments may provide the desired results but these come with a cost. Keep in mind that these hair treatments require plenty of chemicals including dyes, relaxers, and hydrogen peroxide solutions, which strip your hair of its natural moisture. Even with hair protectant products, these can leave the hair dry and dull, as well as prone to splitting.
Chemical products and processes also damage the strands from the inside out. The strands then become more porous and the cuticles become weaker, which means the hair becomes prone to severe split ends.
The friction caused by rubbing your wet hair against each other and against the towel’s fibers increases the risk of breakage and, thus, of split ends. Even the softest terry-cloth towels can snag on the hair strands! Your best choice is either a micro-fiber towel or a clean cotton shirt.
Washing your hair is obviously a must for keeping your hair and scalp healthy. But excessive washing can cause the scalp and hair to lose their natural oils (i.e., sebum) resulting in dryer, duller and rougher ends.
Brushing and combing your hair are also a must for proper hair care. But overdoing them can also result in some breakage, especially if you tug on the tangles, kinks and knots on your hair.
If you use rubber ends to tie ponytails, braids or cornrows, then you’re also likely to get split ends.
The rubber bands damage hair in two ways – first, you’re likely to pull on your hair to get untie them; and second, these cause friction between the rough material and the fragile hair strands resulting in gnarly split ends.
Even the best split end treatment won’t work if you continue with these bad habits, too. Your first step then is to rid yourself of these bad habits and start taking better care of your hair.
How To Get Rid Of Split Ends
Keep in mind that these recommended tips for getting rid of split hair should be adopted in a wholistic manner. For example, after trimming your hair to remove the split ends, you have to deep condition it regularly with the best conditioner for split ends, protect it from heat, and apply hair protectant products for the best results.
How To Trim Split Ends
Since most split ends occur at the ends of the hair strands, it’s easy to trim and get rid of them within a few minutes. You can trim your hair, too, especially if you’re not due for a haircut.
- Use a small pair of hair shears for trimming your hair. Regular scissors can cause fraying and, thus, cause more split ends.
- Cut single strands about a quarter of an inch above the split ends. Cutting too close to the split ends may cause them to reappear; cutting too far away and you will end up with a new haircut.
- Trim off small balls above the split ends, too.
If you think that even trimming your hair can significantly change your hairstyle, you should see a professional haircutter instead.
How To Cut Split Ends
Depending on your hair type, condition, and style, you may want to get a haircut once every four weeks to three months.
Split ends can appear in the interim period so you can decide whether to get an early haircut or not. Just remember that when split ends are allowed to grow, the strands will become weaker and weaker until these break off.
The haircutter will cut anywhere between ¼” to 1” of your hair to remove the split ends. You can request a layered hairstyle in case you want to save your hair length while removing the split ends. Your haircutter will usually leave the lower layer intact and trim the damaged surface layer.
How To Prevent Split Ends
Trimming and cutting the split ends from the strands are only temporary solutions. You have to adopt protective measures to prevent split ends in particular and to keep hair healthy in general.
- Wash your hair only three times a week. But if you have afro-textured hair or thick curls, you should wash it no more than two times a week.
- Wash only from your scalp to the roots of your hair while letting the rest of your hair down. Most of the strands will be washed with the shampoo running down from the scalp and hair roots.
- Wash and rinse your hair with the coolest water possible. While hot water has a relaxing effect on your scalp, it can strip away its protective oils that, in turn, increase hair breakage.
- Wash and rinse your hair with soft water, especially if you have delicate hair. The chlorine, calcium carbonate, and other minerals in tap water, particularly in hard water, can damage your hair. Use a filtration system if the local water in your area is considered as hard water.
- Choose a mild shampoo since too many chemicals can also strip the scalp’s protective oils and the hair’s protective coating. Also, use only a small amount since too much shampoo has the same effect.
- Use a conditioner after every shampooing. Rinse your hair after shampooing it and remove most of its water by squeezing it. Apply the conditioner on your hair’s entire length except near the scalp; focus on the ends of the hair since these will need the most moisture. Let it sit for three minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
- Dry your wet hair as gently as possible. Avoid vigorously rubbing your hair with a terry fabric towel as it can cause friction between the strands. Instead, gently squeeze your wet hair with a microfiber towel until it’s just damp; remove as much excess water as possible. Let your hair air dry, if possible.
- Use a blow dryer only occasionally since too frequent use means more heat exposure for your hair. If you must use it, you should consider using a medium to low setting, preferably to blow cool air instead of hot air. You must hold it a few inches away from your hair for decreased damage, not to mention that holding the nozzle too close can cause slight burns.
- Brush or comb your hair as gently as possible, too. First, choose wooden comb with natural boar bristles and/or a wide-toothed comb. The gentle pull on your hair will lessen the damage on the strands, especially on the ends.
Second, use gentle strokes when brushing or combing your hair. Always start at the bottom of your hair and work your way upwards. Untangle the tangles with your fingers first before brushing again.
You should also stop backcombing, teasing, and pulling on your hair since these actions can break the strands and ends.
You must only brush only until the brush or comb doesn’t encounter obstructions – the practice of brushing your hair a hundred times before going to bed can actually do more harm than good.
- Brush or comb your hair according to its type, moisture-wise. If you have relatively straight hair, you should only brush it when it’s dry. If you have curly or wavy hair, your best bet is to brush it when it’s still damp.
- Protect your hair while sleeping by wrapping it with a silk scarf or a satin pillowcase. Aside from protecting your hair, it will also maintain your hairstyle so you don’t wake up with tangles, knots and kinks. You may also sleep with a braid or a bun, if wrapping your hair isn’t in your alley.
- Apply natural oils to your hair. It’s a great way how to repair damaged hair naturally, too. Almond oil, castor oil, argan oil, egg oil, and extra-virgin olive oil are great choices because these have high nutrient and moisture content.
Apply your preferred oil on your hair twice a week, cover your hair with a cap, and leave it on overnight; wash off with cool water in the morning. Apply it only to the middle and ends of your hair, not near your hair’s roots and scalp; otherwise, you will have damaged roots and dandruff as added issues.
Avoid applying too much as it can leave your scalp and hair too oily. Also, skip hair care products with kerosene and paraffin since these can worsen drying of your hair.
- Deep conditioning is the cheapest and easiest way how to repair damaged hair fast since it can be done in the comfort of your own home. Use natural oils like coconut oil and jojoba oil since these restore moisture to your hair. Do a deep conditioning routine once or twice a month for best results.
Get your hair wet so that it becomes damp. Place a coin-sized amount of your preferred natural oil – or use a deep conditioning treatment, if you want – on your palm. Rub the oil through your hair, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with cold water.
- Apply a hair mask once every 1-2 weeks to keep your hair healthy. Mix equal parts of olive oil, conditioner, and honey; apply it to the middle and ends of your hair; and leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing well. Use a hair repair treatment product, too, if a homemade hair mask doesn’t seem to do its job well in your case.
- Use a split end remover as a temporary fix only. It works by sealing in the split ends so these don’t appear too obvious but the damage may still be present. You should then consider other remedies recommended here.
- Protect your hair from heat from hairstyling equipment like blow dryers, hot rollers, and flat irons. Heat denatures the proteins of the hair shaft and, thus, it weakens the strands and make it probe to split ends.
If you have to use these devices, you should take the necessary precautions. First, avoid using high-heat treatments more often than once every two weeks – or better yet, limit it to just once a month. Second, use hairstyling devices with accurate temperature control and set the temperature to below 180ºC. Third, ask the hairstylist for low-heat treatments only.
- Use a head covering, such as a hat, scarf or cap, whenever you’re out in the sun, especially during the midday hours. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can be damaging to your skin and hair.
- Protect your hair from the effects of seawater, lake water, and pool water since these have chemicals that can damage your hair. Pool water, for example, has high chlorine levels that contribute to dry and dull hair.
Apply a special hair moisturizing product, a leave-in conditioner, or a natural hair before plunging into the sea or pool. Wear a swim cap if these products aren’t available.
Rinse your hair before and after taking a dip, too. Apply a conditioner to restore moisture to your hair afterwards.
- Use only hair-friendly accessories instead of rubber bands and hair clips with metal parts. Choose fabric-covered or padded hair ties, telephone cord ties, and scrunchies since these have gentler surfaces.
- Decrease your use of perms, bleach, and dyes for hairstyling purposes. These products contain chemical that can eventually lead to breakage including split ends. Limit the number of times you have your hair permed, bleached, and colored – touchups are better but limit them to once every 6-8 weeks.
These are all hair-specific recommendations that have their merits but also have their limitations. Just like your skin, your hair should be nourished from the inside out so eating a healthy, balanced diet is a must. You should add more fish, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and avocado, among other foods with hair-friendly nutrients, into your diet.