What Split Ends Are and How to Prevent Them

What Split Ends Are & How to Prevent Them

Split ends are the frayed tips of your hair that have split into two or more parts due to dryness or damage.  The most common causes of split ends are chemical processing, UV exposure, forceful combing or brushing your hair, and the wrong type of hair ties.  And there are six types which are identifiable by their shape.

The types of split ends are:

  • Classic split ends happen when your hair separates in half at the tip. 
  • Incomplete split ends where your hair strand weakens but doesn’t completely split and creates a hole that looks like the eye of a needle.
  • Tree and feathered split ends are when your hair ends have split multiple times, and they look like a tree branch or a feather. 
  • A Y-split happens when the strand of your hair splits evenly into two parts forming a Y-shape.
  • Knotted split ends, most commonly to naturally curly hair, are when single strands curl backwards and create small knots.
  • A tapered is when a split end doesn’t completely split, and instead thins out towards the end.

The only way to remove split ends is to cut them off, so proper hair care and being proactive is the key to preventing split ends from happening.  And there are a lot of ways to do this.

Handle With “Hair”

When your hair is wet, the physical structure of the keratin bonds are more prone to damage making it more likely you’ll wind up with split ends.  This is why having a hair care routine that prevents split ends is vital, especially with washing, styling, and treatments.

The best way to wash your hair is to use warm water first, and then use cold water for the final rinse.  Warm water opens your hair follicles, eliminates impurities, and locks in moisture.  Cold water closes your hair follicles and helps retain your hair’s natural moisture.  Hot water shouldn't be used because it strips your hair of its natural oils (sebum) and weakens your hair roots.  

Over washing your hair causes the natural oil production to go into overdrive which makes the strands brittle.  This is when split ends can form. Here’s our guide for how often to wash your hair so you can create the right regime for your hair type and length. 

While air drying is best, there are times you will need to use a towel.  Your best bet is to always go with microfiber vs coarse fabrics like cotton or terry cloth.  This very fine material doesn’t chafe against your hair and cause unnecessary frizz, split ends, and breakage.  And you can leave your hair in a microfiber towel for up to an hour or blot your hair dry.

Get Regular Haircuts or Trims

Getting regular haircuts and trims every 6-8 weeks removes any split ends you may have, and helps keep them from traveling up your hair shaft causing more damage.

Don’t Wait, Hydrate!

Since dryness at the ends of your hair causes damage and split ends, you want to keep your hair moisturized.  You can do this by using a conditioner made from non-harsh chemicals or a weekly hair mask.

Hair Tip: Drink more water!  Drinking water keeps your body and your hair hydrated, and hydrated hair is less likely to develop split ends.

At First Brush 

You may have heard the old wives tale that you need to brush your hair 100 strokes a day, but you don’t want to overbrush like this.  Only brush your hair once or twice a day to distribute your scalp’s natural oils through your hair.  

Turn Down The Heat

When artificial heat from styling tools like curling and flat irons is too high, it breaks the chemical bonds that provide strength to your hair to keep your strands from breaking and splitting.   

When using these heated styling tools, only use the lowest or medium setting, or lower the heat down to 180 degrees or below if your tool allows you to set a temperature.  If possible, try not to use heated tools daily, or try styling heatless curls.

Avoid Too Many Hair Treatments

Many hair sprays, gel and wax contain a high concentration of alcohol and sometimes formaldehyde. Both of these dry out your hair and block the pores of your scalp.  This causes your hair follicles to become weak and thin. If you’re not sure if your products have alcohol, check the ingredients list for ethanol.  

Hair treatments like hair color and perms use hard chemicals that disrupt the keratin disulphide bonds in your hair strands and change the structure of your hair.  With every exposure, your hair strands lose their strength, dehydrate, become more brittle, and split even more.  Schedule your sessions for these treatments a few weeks apart, at a minimum, to give your hair as much time as possible to heal. 

Use Spiral Hair Ties Instead of Elastic

Spiral hair ties are better than elastic for preventing damage and split ends because the spiral design slides in and out of your hair while elastic grips tight and frays it.  Elastic hair ties also pull harder on the follicles causing damage and sometimes ripping hair out. 

Split ends are a sign of hair damage that you want to get to the “root” of.  And taking care of your hair doesn't have to involve spending lots of time and money. These simple tips will keep your hair healthy and strong, and your damaged hair will “split”.  

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