Split ends – the problem of most women. How to deal with them?
Split ends happen when the ends of your hair become dry, brittle, and frayed. They may resemble the end of an unraveled rope.
Exposure to extreme weather conditions, and hair care techniques such as blow drying, straightening, and curling may cause split ends. They’re also caused by chemical hair products. With so many people using hair products daily, split ends are common. Almost everyone will deal with split ends at some point.
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!
Causes of Split End
- Exposure of hair to excessive heat, dust and pollution
- Over-washing your tresses
- Excessive use of hair-styling products like straighteners, curlers and chemical products like serums, sprays and dry shampoos
- Irregular oiling of hair
- Washing your hair with hot water
- Not getting your hair trimmed regularly
- Chemical treatments including perming and hair coloring
- Exposure to hard water including chlorinated swimming pools
What Hair Is Made Of
Hair is mostly made up of a hard protein called keratin. Keratin is also found in fingernails, toenails, and skin. Hair keratin is formed by amino acid molecules linked by a cysteine disulfide bridge. These amino acids come from the protein in our diet, which is why it’s important to eat enough protein to support healthy hair growth.
A single hair is made up of the hair follicle and the hair shaft. The hair follicle is the part of the hair beneath the skin, and is where new hair growth actually occurs. The base of the hair follicle, called the bulb, contains stem cells that produce the hair shaft. The bulb receives nutrients necessary for hair growth via a tight grid of blood vessels within the scalp. The hair follicle also includes a sebaceous gland, which produces sebum (or oil), which keeps the hair and scalp moisturized.
How to limit further damage
Stay on shade. Experts recommend choosing a dye within three shades of your natural color and opting for shades that are darker rather than lighter to limit damage. Unnatural colors are more difficult to maintain and have to be touched up more frequently.
Dye less often. Extending the time between touch-ups can also help reduce damage. If possible, wait 8 to 10 weeks — or longer! — between dye jobs.
To make this more feasible:
- Wash your hair less frequently.
- Only use shampoos formulated for dyed hair.
- Rinse shampoo and conditioner with cool water. Hot water can cause the cuticle to open, or lift, allowing the dye to rinse out.
Trim them yourself
If you’re not due for a full haircut, you can take care of the split ends yourself. Trim them off using a small pair of hair shears, since scissors can fray your hair and lead to more split ends. Cut single strands about 0.25 inches (0.64 cm) above the split. If you cut too close to the damage, the split may reappear.
- Some splits form a small ball directly above the damage. Make sure to cut above this.
- Keep in mind that only trimming the split ends may change or ruin the look of your haircut. For best results, see a hair stylist to get your hair trimmed.
How to repair damaged hair with oils
Oil your hair frequently to keep it nourished and healthy. Different oils like olive oil, coconut oil, and castor oil should be used. Massage the oil slowly into the scalp and leave it on for at least for two hours before shampooing.
Oil forms a protective barrier around the cuticle and nourishes the hair shaft. Coconut oil has penetrative properties that nourish the hair shaft with its chain of fatty acids. The high protein content of castor oil fills in the damaged keratin spots of your hair.
At the end of the day though, the best way of resolving split ends of any kind is to keep up with routine trims. It may be tempting to skip trims, especially if you’re trying to grow out your hair, but it’s been proven that regularly trimming your hair will actually help it grow stronger and faster. Even though you are trimming off a few inches each time, keeping your hair free of split ends will prevent breakage, so while your hair isn’t growing any faster, it is growing healthier and less prone to breaking off at the ends.