Hair, hair, everywhere! Split ends

Split Ends: Everything You and Your Hair Need to Know

Audrey Sivasothy


Solutions and Prevention: What More Can I Do?
The best way to cure split ends is by preventing them in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, spit ends CANNOT be repaired, glued back together, or eliminated. The only means of repairing them involves a pair of shears. Products can temporarily seal the ends of thehair shaft and “glue” the split ends back together, but this “glue effect” is lost once the hair is exposed to water through washing. These products will buy you time, but ultimately your split ends will need to be trimmed away. 

“Search and Destroy” Trims
“Search and Destroy” trims are trims that target split ends, and should be done every 4 weeks (or as often as needed) for split end prevention. These trims will eliminate the damaged ends from your hair without removing too much of your length at one time. Since these trims only target ends that are actually splitting, not the healthy good ones, these trims should be seen as a reward for your keeping your ends in tip top shape! Because these trims are less invasive than regular trims, they are great for maintenance in between regular trims.

During your search and destroy missions you will want to be on the look out for stressed hairs, or hairs that look as if they are on their last leg. Some may not be broken yet, but will look weak, ratty, or otherwise not in tip top condition.

How to Trim Your Split Ends
Always trim the hair straight across the top of the split, at least 1/8 to � above the problem. Never trim the hair at an angle! Trimming at a slant will expose more of the bottom and interior of your hair shaft to damage and increase its chances for re-splitting under pressure in the future. Perfect example, slice a stick of celery or banana at a slant rather and straight. What do you notice? You have just exposed more surface area of the objects interior. This is not what you want! If you have a tiny knot or split hair where the hairhas already peeled off of the main strand, cut � inch above the knot or where the irregular angle begins. For hair that is damaged and full of high shaft split ends, you can use your areas of hair transparency as a guide for trimming. 

Simply allowing your split ends to break off is not good for your hair. As explained earlier, the broken strand of hair that remains on your head will not be cleanly cut. This will eventually produce another splitting end later on, except on a shorter piece of hair. Secondly, splitting ends do not allow the hair to move or flow freely. When you attempt to style or detangle your hair, your splitting ends will catch the other hair and possibly tangle in them further, leading to even more breakage.

Cuticle Flattening Rinses
Rinsing the hair periodically with an acidic rinse will help keep the cuticles flat and intact, staving off the proliferation of split ends. Ideally these rinses should be done every 2-3 weeks as preventive maintenance against splitting or for combating problems with hairporosity. A popular acidic rinse is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) in water. My personal dilution for this rinse is 2 cups of cool water to 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. After you have washed and deep conditioned your hair as normal, pour the apple cider vinegar rinse over your hair. Rinse in cool water. Rinsing the hair in cool water following a wash will also help to mechanically close down the cuticle layers, preventing splits from forming. Your hair should be gleaming and nicely detangled now! If you still detect the awful smell of the ACV rinse on your hair after the initial rinsing, continue to rinse in cool water until you cannot smell it. If the rinse makes your hair hard and tangly, reduce the amount of ACV in your rinse next time around.

Moisturizing, Sealing, and Conditioning
Moisturizing the hair with a water-based moisturizer and sealing the hair with oil will help the hair strand fight all types of splitting and breakage. It provides a daily protective barrier for the cuticle from the sun and other types of elemental breakage and keeps the cuticle pliable and soft to prevent against breakage from styling tools. Always have your hair lubricated with something! Never attempt to “dry style” your hair.
Deep conditioning the hair with moisturizing conditioners, and treating the hair with protein reconstructors can also help improve the appearance of the hair and fight split ends. Protein supplementation reinforces the cuticle and helps it resists chipping, unravelling, or breaking. Please understand that these treatments cannot fix, repair, or stop any splitting or damage that has already occurred. They can improve the hair’s appearance and fight any future problems before they happen. 

Decrease Overall Manipulation
This is very important! Simply decreasing the manipulation your hair experiences by your combing, brushing, and styling will decrease your number of split ends. Protective styles that keep the hair up and off of the shoulders and out of the elements are great for keeping your ends healthy as well. When washing the hair, avoid manhandling and roughly towel drying your hair. Wet hair is very fragile. Towel drying roughs up the cuticles and causes more tangling problems than you can imagine! Gently squeeze the hair in a “milking” fashion to release any excess water from the hair. You may gently pat your hair with your towel to catch the extra water, but do not rub or towel scrunch the hair to dry it.

Good Luck! 

Johnson, D. (1997) Hair and Hair Care. New York: Marcel Dekker.


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