Your hair is one of the first things other people notice about you. They might take in its color and assume that you are fun-loving, intelligent, or feisty. They’ll notice its length and cut and may decide if you are conservative or more on the liberal side. Fair or not, people come to conclusions based on your appearance.
The one conclusion you don’t want them to come to is that you neglect proper hair care because you have split ends. Unfortunately, split ends are also among the most difficult hair issues to conquer.
Here are some tips on how to prevent split ends, as well as some pointers for what to do if your ends are already in bad shape.
What Are Split Ends?
“Split ends” are what the term implies. They occur when the hair shaft splits at the end. The shafts may split into two, three, or more pieces. The result is frizzy-looking ends that more closely resemble a broom than the luscious locks you desire.
If you do not address split ends as soon as you notice them, they’ll continue to get worse; the split can work its way all the way up to your scalp. If that happens, your hair will be chronically messy and have an unhealthy appearance.
Causes and Prevention of Split Ends
In order to combat this nasty problem, you need to understand what causes split ends.
1. Too Much Styling
Straighteners and curling irons are great for wrestling your hair into submission. Unfortunately, these useful tools are also bad for your hair. They work through the use of heat, which removes necessary moisture from your hair. Dry locks are more prone to split ends.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to give up your styling sessions, but you should adjust the way you style to protect your hair.
- Use a thermal protectant spray for your hair. These products often contain oils that moisturize the hair and help it hold up against the heat from your styling tools. On product labels, look for ingredients like argan oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil.
- Adjust the heat setting. If you’re in the habit of turning up your styling tools to the maximum heat, you should rethink that custom. Turn down the heat and see if you can still get the results you want.
- Shop for different styling products. True, you can buy hair straighteners and curling irons for on the cheap at major chain stores, but these poor quality products are more likely to damage your hair. Look for hair tools made from ceramic or titanium materials; these heat up evenly and quickly, and may actually end up helping your hair look shinier and healthier.
2. Blow Drying
Like straightening and curling, blow drying your hair can sap its moisture and leave it brittle and vulnerable to split ends.
Avoid blow drying your hair whenever possible. If that simply isn’t an option, use the lowest heat setting possible.
Shop around for a high-quality hair dryer with multiple heat settings and attachments. Those attachments can help you dry your hair more evenly and gain greater control over the drying process. Buying a hair dryer with a cold air setting is key: After your hair is mostly dry, finishing the process with a blast of cold hair can close the hair shafts, locking in the hair’s remaining moisture and giving you extra shine.
Don’t dry your hair completely. Only use the dryer until the hair feels about 90 percent dry. This will prevent frizz and damage.
Also, make sure that you keep the dryer moving; exposing one section of hair to intense heat for too long will increase the chance of damage.
3. Chemical Treatments
Any chemical treatment has the potential to damage your hair and lead to split ends. However, some treatments are more dangerous than others.
Chemical Perms and Straightening
These processes require a lot of heat, which, as noted above, is hard on your hair. The chemicals themselves are also bad for hair because they have to break the bonds in the hair in order to reform it. You’ll notice a lot of damage if you regularly pay for professional perms or straightening.
Can’t say no to the chemical treatments? Don’t skimp on professional service. Instead of going to a local beauty college, go to a professional who has experience in working with your type of hair. A talented stylist will be able to minimize the damage.
Maybe you want to test out the theory that blondes have more fun. However, keep in mind that bleaching works by opening the pores in hair and sapping out its natural pigments.
If you want lighter hair, choose a light-colored dye instead of bleach. The dye will add to your hair, not take away from it. However, there is still a chance of damage, which is why it is good to have a professional take care of hair lightening for you.
Coloring your hair can open its pores and leave you vulnerable to hair damage, including split ends.
Going to a professional will give you the best chances of keeping your hair healthy throughout and after the coloring process. However, if you insist on doing it yourself, be careful about the products you choose. Low-quality dyes, or those that aren’t right for your type of hair, can increase the risk of damage. For example, unless you have a lot of gray in your hair, semi-permanent color is a healthier option than permanent color.
After your color your hair, be sure to use shampoos and conditioners formulated for colored hair. This will not only protect the color, but it may also add missing nutrients back into your hair.
4. Washing Your Hair Too Often or in the Wrong Way
Washing your hair more frequently than necessary can strip it of its natural protective oils, which are necessary for preventing damage. You may be in the habit of washing your hair every day, but for most people, that is too much. Depending on your hair and skin type, washing your hair daily can either dry out your hair or make it greasier because your glands are working hard to produce extra oil.
How often should you wash your hair? The answer is different for different people. Unless you have either a very dry or very oily scalp, you probably only need to wash once or twice a week, according to a Columbia University health column.
How you wash your hair is just as important as how often you wash it. Shampoo your scalp, not your hair. Gently massage, being careful not to be too rough. The shampoo will run down the rest of your hair, getting rid of excess dirt and oil on the shaft.
5. Rough Handling
You may not think of brushing your hair after you get out of the shower as rough, but according to one expert, “when hair is wet it is especially vulnerable to damage. Water weakens the weakest bonds within strands of hair, removing 1/3 of its strength. The simple act of brushing can lead to dire consequences in this weakened state.”
If you must run something through your hair when it is wet, use a wide-toothed comb, not a brush or fine-toothed comb. Also, avoid rubbing your wet hair with a towel. Squeezing moisture out of it is fine, but rubbing can contribute to damage.
Brushing your hair too often, even when it is dry, can also cause damage. When you do brush your hair, be sure to use a high-quality brush, and make sure the brush is meant for your type of hair. For example, a half-round brush is good for short hair and bangs but isn’t as effective for long hair.
For protection while you sleep, you may want to invest in a satin or silk pillowcase; it will reduce friction and damage to your hair.
Some people are simply more prone to split ends. This may be because of a perpetually dry scalp, or a condition that makes hair thick in some places and thin in others, which makes it more susceptible to damage.
While you can’t change your DNA, you may be able to take nutritional supplements that strengthen your hair. For example, biotin encourages hair and nail growth. An iron shortage could be a contributing factor to dry hair. Also, taking in omega-3s can help keep both your skin and hair moist.
Some multivitamins are specifically designed to encourage healthy hair, skin, and nails. Do your research on these before you buy anything, and if you have a negative reaction, stop taking the vitamin and look for an alternative. Don’t skimp on quality in order to save money; only buy brands that have a good reputation.
A healthy diet is also key to strengthening your hair. Salmon, Greek yogurt, spinach, and guava may all be helpful in promoting gorgeous locks.
Remedies for Split Ends
What if you already have split ends? Following the above advice will help to stop the split ends from getting worse. But repairing split ends is another matter altogether.
The best and most effective way to get rid of split ends is to cut them off. A professional stylist can identify where the split ends stop and cut above that line. You’ll have a fresh start, and from there, you can focus on preventing future split ends.
However, cutting your hair may not be a practical option if your split ends have gotten too close to your scalp; you probably don’t want to go for a military-style buzz cut. If you don’t want to subject yourself to scissors, try one of the following split end remedies.
Apply a Hair Mask
A hair mask is a deep-conditioning treatment. It uses oils and other nourishing ingredients to repair hair damage and leave your locks shiny, smooth, and feeling healthy.
To use a hair mask, wet your hair, then apply the mask as evenly as you can over all your locks. If you have a particularly dry or oily scalp, you may want to apply the mask only to the body of the hair and not the roots. Then, wrap your hair with a towel or turban and use a hair dryer. The heat will open the pores in the hair, letting the nutrients in the mask really sink in. After a couple of minutes, rinse your hair with cold water.
Keep in mind that these instructions are for general use. The hair mask you choose may come with different directions.
It's important to remember that hair masks disguises split ends, but do not actually eliminate them.
Make Your Own Hair Mask
If you have the time and you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own hair mask. Mix together some olive oil, honey, an egg yolk, and coconut oil. Apply the mixture as you would a regular hair mask.
Use Hair Repair Serum
Some hair product brands have a serum that is supposed to mend spilt ends and prevent future ones. Read product reviews to make sure you aren’t throwing your money away on something that doesn’t work. Your stylist might have advice on which products to use.
Rinse Your Hair with Beer
It may have the ring of mythology to it, but using beer on your hair can actually make it healthier and can help to hide those split ends. The nutrients in beer soften hair and add extra shine. The alcohol is useful for cleansing.
However, beer is not for everyone. The alcohol may dry your scalp, contributing to itchiness and/or encouraging your glands to produce excess oil.
Be Diligent About Hair Care
Even if you don’t like to spend a lot of time or thought on your hair, taking the time once in a while to consider your hair care routine can spare you from unsightly split ends and other hair issues. Use the above information to make your locks shinier and healthier. You’ll be the envy of all your friends!