If you have long or particularly dry hair, you are likely all too familiar with split ends. They can creep up on you as well – go a few weeks longer than you usually do for a trim and you may just get a shock with how many seem to appear.
There are hundreds of products on the market which claim to be able to fix split ends, but annoyingly they do very little good. Split ends are structural damage to the hair strands, so once you have them, the only way to ‘fix’ them is to have a haircut, snipping off the split end and preventing the split from spreading up the strand. There is sadly no way to ‘stick’ the splits back together!
Thankfully, while we may not be able to turn back time and fix the split ends, there is no need for you to stand by and wait for split ends to appear. There is plenty you can do to prevent them from occurring, from ensuring it receives important nourishment to protecting it from damage. We are going to talk you through all the ways you can protect your hair from damage such as split ends to keep it strong, healthy and looking beautiful.
Table Of Contents
What Are Split Ends?
Split ends are also known as Trichoptilosis. They are the result of damage to your hair. This damage can come from weather conditions, excessive heating of your hair for example from straightening it too often, harsh chemicals, washing your hair too often and brushing too forcefully.
Split ends can occur in various patterns, and therefore in a range of severities. Often you will notice a strand of hair appears to fork at the end, leaving 2 or 3 tips at the end of one strand. Sometimes one of the tips may split again, giving a tree-branch appearance. Occasionally a hair will split in the middle of the strand, rather than at the end, as the weaker part of the hair occurs higher up.
Tearing or pulling your split ends out will most likely damage your hair further. Therefore, the best way to get rid of your split ends is to trim them. Speak to your hairdresser or stylist about your concerns about split ends or trim them yourself. If you do choose to have a go at getting rid of them yourself, make sure that you use sharp scissors. Blunt scissors could tear the hairs and cause more split ends, or make the ones you have worse.
Prevent Hair Breakage And Split Ends
There are plenty of different methods of preventing split ends. A big part of preventing damage to your hair is understanding how vulnerable it is so that you know that you need to take good care of your locks. It is important to know when your hair is most vulnerable, and how simple, everyday activities can be damaging your hair without you even thinking about it. Even the can affect your hair!
Take Care With Wet Hair
Wet hair is particularly vulnerable to damage. It is much more fragile and therefore susceptible to damage. Plus, it is more likely to tangle when it is wet. Even using a hairbrush on wet hair can cause breakage and weakening.
If you really must comb your hair in the shower, brush out the tangles before you get your hair wet. Wait until you have massaged some conditioner into your hair and worked it through with your fingers before going through it with a wide-toothed comb. If your hair is tangled, work from the bottom to undo the tangle and then gradually work up the strands until you can sweep the comb up without snagging.
Never use curling tongs or a straightening iron on wet hair as this can fry the strands and cause irreparable damage.
Take care also when tying your hair back when it is wet. As it dries, it will shrink, so it if it tied tightly when it is wet then you can damage it. If you have to tie it back when it is wet, consider buying a gentle, no-snag hair tie, such as a hair coil.
Don’t Wash Your Hair Too Often
Shampoos are often very drying for your hair. In particular, products which are for oily hair and even regular shampoos can strip the natural oils out of your hair that would otherwise protect it from weather and temperatures. For that reason, it is a good idea to cut down on how often you wash it. Not many people actually need to wash their hair every day, so give your hair a chance to get the benefit from natural oils and allow it the extra bit of resilience against the elements.
You may not need to wash your hair as often as you think you do. If you are still washing it daily or every other day because that’s what you needed to do in your teen years, consider trying to cut it down by extending the gap between washes. If you are unsure, test it out by waiting an extra 12 hours after you are next due a wash.
If it still looks good, try an extra 12 hours on top. See how long you can go before it starts to look or feel greasy. You may need to build it up gradually over a few weeks, leaving a little bit longer between washes each time. It may require a bit of patience, but your hair’s health, in the long run, will be worth it.
High-Quality Heat Tools
It probably isn’t a surprise that your styling tools can cause damage to your hair. The intense, focused heat can potentially singe and fry your hair, or just weaken it and put it at greater risk of splitting. However, there have been great advancements in the technology of hair styling tools such as straightening irons and hairdryers which mean that they now have far more protective features to look after your hair.
Modern hairdryers have been developed with far-infrared technology, meaning that hair strands are dried from the inside-out, rather than just from the surface. This is much gentler on the hairs and can cut down on frizz, yet it can mean that they dry faster. It is also thought that infrared light can be beneficial to your hair and skin, encouraging natural healing processes in some cells. Some also have ionic technology which uses negative ions to break up the water molecules and therefore evaporate faster. To find out more about these new technologies and find out which models have them, check out our hair straightener reviews where we have discussed some of the best models available and how the technologies benefit your hair. We also tested curling irons here, and curling wands here, many of which have features which are intended to protect your hair from intense heat styling.
Just like limiting the times you use heat appliances on your hair, consider limiting the times you dye it. There are harsh chemicals in hair dye, which can strip your hair of natural oils, weakening it. Avoid coloring your hair multiple times close together, and if you need a top up consider just getting the roots done, not the whole strands.
Hair straighteners are also now available with elements that prevent heat damage to your hairs. These features include adaptive heat technology, keratin-infused plates, floating plates that prevent snags and tourmaline plates that evenly distribute the heat, reduce static and also prevent snags. Most high quality, modern models give you far more control over the temperatures that you will have had previously too, so you can tailor your temperatures to suit your exact hair type and desired style.
As we mentioned earlier, shampooing your hair can strip it of its natural oil. Sure, you don’t want greasy hair – that look doesn’t suit anyone – but you also don’t want dry ends that are more prone to splitting. Deep conditioners are not the same as the regular conditioner that you massage in then rinse off after your shampoo. These are usually intensely nourishing hair masks that you leave in for longer.
There are plenty of different types of deep conditioner you can leave in for as little as 3 minutes, or as much as overnight, though you’ll have to sleep in a shower cap unless you want to stick to your sheets! You can buy sachets of deep conditioner for your hair, or you can make your own, for example from coconut oil and vitamin E.
It is a good idea to deep condition your hair regularly, such as once a week, especially if you often use heat treatments such as straighteners or curling irons, or regularly go swimming. Plus, not only will a deep conditioner help your hair to stay strong and healthy, it can help it stay soft and shiny, while also minimizing frizz.
Get Regular Haircuts
According to the CDC, scalp hair grows on average 1 cm (0.4 inches) per month, but it can range from 0.6 cm (0.2 inches) to 3.36 cm (1.3 inches), so it can vary hugely. You know that it will be growing back soon, so make the most of this and get your ends trimmed regularly. Many stylists recommend having your hair cut every 6 to 10 weeks. It nips off the split ends to prevent them from splitting further up the strand, and by getting rid of the wispy end, your hair will appear thicker and healthier.
If you are hoping to grow your hair out, you don’t need to have it done this often, and you don’t need to have too much taken off each time either. There is, however, some thought that having a regular trim can encourage your hair to grow (or it may just be more noticeable when it does!) Just pay attention to the health of your hair. If you notice split ends starting to form, or the ends are looking or feeling a bit dry, it is time to head to the hairdressers. It is easier to solve the split ends when they first appear, and you won’t have to have as much trimmed to get rid of them as you would if you were to wait for the split to spread.
De-Tangle Your Hair Gently
Sometimes you just can’t help it. Whether it is due to all the swimming you are doing in the hot summer months, or the scarf you are wrapping up in to keep warm over winter, friction and tangles can form, turning your luscious locks into a hanging tumbleweed in no time. Even with the best brushing and styling in the morning, tangles throughout the day can appear, leaving you exasperated in the evening as you try and de-knot your hair.
When you do notice a knot, no matter whether it is a tiny one or a huge clump, the most important thing is to resist the urge to pull in out. If you do this, you will weaken the strands and make it more likely to tear and form split ends. Instead, be patient and work through it carefully – it will be worth it in the long run, we promise!
Choose a flat brush or wide-toothed comb to work through your hair. Start working form the tips of your hair, never start from the roots as this will make it much worse! Gradually work your way up the strands, but don’t pull your hair. Use a detangling spray or conditioner if it is a particularly tricky knot. Work through it with your fingers, then once you have got rid of the knot, brush through your hair to prevent new ones from forming.
So there are some methods you can adopt to try and prevent split ends. The main thing is to pay attention to the health of your hair and give it nourishment and care when it needs it! Turn every day into a good hair day, by looking after your locks and eliminating those pesky split ends!
If you have any methods of preventing split ends that you swear by, let us know in the comments!