Can­di, Nat­ur­al Hair Style Icon

By Jc of The Nat­ur­al Haven

If you are unable to see split ends (or even if you are), your hair will still indi­cate to you whether it is dam­aged or not. As hair grows and gets old­er it has a ten­den­cy to taper due to loss of the cuti­cle. If you have split ends then log­i­cal­ly as the hair splits the ends will get thin­ner over time. 

I have pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cussed the sci­ence of how hair wears over time and if you have not seen it, then here are the links:
1. Trim­ming for longer hair
2. Trim­ming how much and how often

Today I want to talk about one heat free method to ‘see’ split ends. This involves braid­ing hair in small-ish­sec­tions  (around a square inch or so) and then check­ing to see if the ends taper or not (See the image below).


Tips to using this method suc­cess­ful­ly:

1. Ten­sion: You should braid with approx­i­mate­ly the same ten­sion. Don’t increase the ten­sion as you go along or you may get a false result.
2. Sec­tions: Small sec­tions are nec­es­sary since hair does not grow at the same speed. It is very pos­si­ble to have much longer hair at the back than the front or vice ver­sa.
3. Styling:  If your hair has been cut into lay­ers or weight­ed (thinned out in sec­tions), this method is not use­ful for you unless you are grow­ing out the lay­ers and would be hap­py to loose the longer lengths.
4. Long hair:  Hair around the 12–18 inch mark and longer has a ten­den­cy to taper not because of split ends but rather because of nor­mal wear. You can still use the method above but must make your own judge­ment call on how much you wish to cut

What is your method for trim­ming?

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45 Comments on "How to See (and Trim) Split Ends Without Heat"

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i for­ev­er have split ends and its real­ly annoy­ing. only at the front of my hair though.What should i do? I have trimmed maybe 4–6″ of hair in the last two years and it’s real­ly hurt­ing my jour­ney.

I find this arti­cle infor­ma­tive there I have seen oth­ers but this comes at the right time as I have noticed an increas­ing amount of straight strands which I final­ly realise are due to split ends (some­one cor­rect me if I’m wrong *cross­es fin­ger*) I have been trim­ming my ends admit­ted­ly with no reg­u­lar­i­ty but have noticed that there are more straight strands pok­ing through. After read­ing this arti­cle I think its look­ing like­ly that an inch or more will need to be tak­en off :(  My hair is fine and grows slow­ly I have made changes I now fin­ger detan­gling instead… Read more »
Patricia Shaw

Loved the method Thxs cuz I DIDNT kno how 2 tell split ends verse hair length Thxs GOD BLESS

Pearl S

I loved this

Mrs. e

I tried this,method and it is awe­some! You will notice your cp instant­ly improve!!!

Lydia Young

What if you know that you have break­age or if your hair is but in a style? Will this affect the width of the braid towards the end? Will the braid taper­ing ONLY indi­cate split ends? I just don’t want to trim my hair if it’s not nec­es­sary.


I tried this method this after­noon and LOVED IT! I worked like a charm. My ends feel won­der­ful and healthy, AND I’m going to have a fierce braid out when I take the braids down. Before when I trim­ming my ends with my hair unbraid­ed, I def­i­nite­ly wasn’t being aggres­sive enough. I was cut­ting as much as I WANTED rather than what I NEEDED to cut. Today, it was so obvi­ous to see where to cut. I cut with con­fi­dence and prob­a­bly took about an inch off the ends. But who wants rat­ty ends just to keep length?


I’m very hap­py to read this arti­cle! I didn’t want to go to the salon and get a ‘hater­trim’ and pre­ferred to do it myslef no mat­ter how long it’d take…thx again BGLH!


This seems to be a method for longer haired women. I have TWA and it’s EXTREMELY dam­aged! The only rea­son why I didn’t get it trimmed is because I don’t know who to go to with­out the styl­ist chop­ping off ALL my hair!


I’m try­ing to fig­ure out if I have split ends, but my prob­lem is the exact oppo­site. When I two-strand twist late­ly, the ends of some of my sec­tions are thick­er at the bot­tom than at the top. I don’t know what that’s about. So, I thought it was dam­aged hair. I’ve cut almost 2 inch­es of my hair off because of this, but I still have the prob­lem, and don’t want to cut any­more, if that is real­ly not what’s hap­pen­ing. :-(


[…] Girl with Long Hair has a nice guide on how to see (and trim) split ends here:  I hope this […]

Natural Kinky Curly Marie

I’m 30+yrs Old and have been trim­ming my Split Ends using this method since I was 13years Old.

This advice seems to assume that your hair is at the same growth stages in same regions which mean they would have the same length and so if it doesn’t then it must be cut. That seem shady to me. Hair grows at dif­fer­ent rates and at dif­fer­ent stages (even when in the same loca­tion of scalp) hence why you can have taper­ing at the ends of braids some strands will be longer because they are not in the rest­ing stage but grow­ing stage while oth­ers will be short­er because rest­ing and because they the old strand has been shed­ded.… Read more »

Jc answers your con­cerns in point 2 of the arti­cle, the part about Sec­tions.

The Natural Haven

Thanks Beau­ty and Cygnet, I am also very con­cerned about peo­ple not read­ing the post in full. It would be a ter­ri­ble deci­sion to braid all your hair into one pony­tail or two pig tails and then chop off the taper­ing part. This would lead to a lot of hair being chopped off unnec­es­sar­i­ly

I can only hope that peo­ple will revis­it the arti­cle, com­ments and read it in full before trimming.….…sigh


I’m kind of wor­ried peo­ple are not read­ing the process of this type of trim­ming.…..


Per­son­al­ly, I like my hair to taper a lit­tle at the bot­tom because it makes it so much eas­i­er when I install twist in my hair. When I first did my BC, it was almost impos­si­ble for me to achieve cer­tain styles due to my ends being so “thick”. Although my ends do taper a lit­tle now, I have not noticed any split ends. So hope­ful­ly I am not doing myself a harm by not trim­ming at the first sign of taper­ing.


I wouldn’t use this method to trim my hair but it is def­i­nite­ly and indi­ca­tion whether my hair is healthy or not. Thank you for post­ing.


I’ve been doing this since my big chop and it has worked well for me. How­ev­er, I do two strand twists as opposed to plaits because it easier/quicker. For those of you who are reluc­tant to trim. You’ll find that when you trim, your hair will grow stronger, faster and is much health­i­er.


I dis­agree with this arti­cle and I hope that peo­ple don’t start chop­ping off inch­es of their hair due to braid thick­ness. This method does not take into account hair that grows in lay­ers or hair that is nat­u­ral­ly thick­er in cer­tain areas.


Yes the arti­cle does men­tion this Tee — please read points 2 and 3


I’d have to cut off half my hair! :( I hate all kinds of trim­ming. I HATE hav­ing short hair! I hat­ed hav­ing my lit­tle ‘fro when I first went nat­ur­al. I wish my hair grew faster and it didn’t break so eas­i­ly.

Dit­to every­thing after the first sen­tence :-)! I remem­ber when I made the deci­sion to tran­si­tion to unprocessed hair. I knew that it was going to be the short­est it had been since infan­cy, and I was unhap­py about that. I thought that my hair grew more slow­ly than I’ve since dis­cov­ered that it grows, and I was expect­ing a long, drawn-out process. I have an under­ac­tive thy­roid, which, for me, results in hair that is brit­tle and dry, and that’s on top of my strands already being fine. And noth­ing has so far cured me of my extreme dis­like… Read more »

Oh, and in case it wasn’t clear, that was @Jack.


Jack I under­stand your woes, for a long time I also felt the same way about trim­ming. How­ev­er since I became scis­sor hap­py sev­er­al years back, I actu­al­ly gained length. The key to hav­ing longer hair is learn­ing how not to break your hair and part of this includes trim­ming when nec­es­sary. Split­ting and break­ing hair will nev­er gain length.

All the best in your jour­ney.


+ 1! Trim­ming has nev­er stopped me from achiev­ing length. Break­age has, how­ev­er. I’m ALL ABOUT trim­ming.


Jack, sor­ry to say, but hav­ing this kind of atti­tude is real­ly going to set you back. Hold­ing on to hair just for the sake of length can pos­si­bly hin­der your hair growth. Try embrac­ing your hair no mat­ter what length it is. I know hav­ing short hair can be very alien at first, but say­ing that you HATE your hair the way it is now is just going to make it a more dif­fi­cult for you in the long run.

I don’t like how I look with short hair, I look bet­ter with long hair and I like the style­si can do with long hair. Yeah my hair will grow, but slow­ly while I wait for it to grow back after the trim. If it grew back faster I wouldn’t care so much about length. I’ve slowed down on trim­ming ’cause I haven’t seen much growth. So I don’t think my hair responds to trim­ming like that. My hair hasn’t grown any faster, but has slowed down from some oth­ers fac­tors I’m not able to pin point yet. My hair… Read more »

yea i real­ly don’t think this is good advice, you would be trim­ming off alot for no rea­son. i think it would be bet­ter to go youtube to learn how to trim


Well here are some youtube videos that demon­strate the very same tech­nique — i.e sec­tion and trim. 








It works if you only paste what comes after the slashes.…also I think the video from Nap­tural85 is the most helpful.….(its the third from the top)


I appre­ci­ate read­ing about new tech­niques, so thanks for that. I’m going to try this on my ends in the back of my hair, as it sounds like this might make it eas­i­er to trim it even­ly. My hair is on the fine side, and ‘search and destroy’ is what I nor­mal­ly do.


I think this is only use­ful if the taper­ing is very dra­mat­ic. If like me you have thin and fine hair, search and destroy is not that task­ing.

Le Le

I tried this method, and I’m not sure how much it real­ly works for me. My hair, even when it has no split ends, tends to taper a bit when in small braids. I don’t know why, but it could be because my hair is not even in length, even in a square inch (I haven’t had it pro­fes­sion­al­ly trimmed in a while). I think this method will only work if your hair is even all over.


I don’t agree with this state­ment. hair can­not have the same thick­ness from roots to tips. For me, it is unnec­es­sary trim­ming…

HBP — Can I ask, why should your hair not have the same thick­ness from the root to the tip? There are only two rea­sons that I can think of why this should not be the case 1. The hair cuti­cle has worn down cre­at­ing a thin­ner tip than root 2. Hair has inten­tion­al­ly been styled with a thin­ning cut (i.e lay­er­ing) Please note that in the arti­cle I did not say that you should tie all your hair into one pony­tail, this will nor­mal­ly taper unless you have excep­tion­al­ly long hair. I am talk­ing about braid­ing your hair into 1 square… Read more »

I’ve seen hair with the same thick­ness from top to bot­tom, although very rarely. Man that girl had one set of hair on her head, I went right up to her and com­pli­ment­ed her on it- she told me what she used on it too. It was one big fat braid even­ly from top to bot­tom, and it had a blunt cut with a rub­ber band on the end of it, so yes it’s pos­si­ble. I don’t know if trim­ming hair that’s not thick from root to tip is unnec­es­sary trim­ming, but I’ve def­i­nite­ly seen hair that’s even­ly thick all over.

Ameerah Pearman

I’mma do it, but I’ll letchu know now that I’m scared to.


woo! I’m so glad BGLH post­ed this because I real­ly want to trim my hair myself, rather than going to some ran­dom salon hop­ing for the best. 

Just won­der­ing, is it bet­ter to trim your hair using braids or twists? Because I pre­fer to do twists. But any­ways I’ll try the braids, lol. :D

Hav­ing worn both plaits and twists, as well as trim­ming my hair loose—usually as I’m undo­ing it—I find that it works about the same.  My big issue is mak­ing sure I trim the same amount from each one, espe­cial­ly since I’m visu­al­ly impaired any­way and my hair isn’t yet long enough in the back for me to pull the ends around to the front. I do every­thing by feel. But I’ve done it enough that I have a sys­tem down, and it works pret­ty for me.  And even if it didn’t, I’d soon­er do it myself than let some­one else do it… Read more »

I meant to say it works pret­ty well for me :-).


Yes! This method works best, it’s easy and a lot quick­er then what I had been doing. I use to trim and chop my hair like I would if it were relaxed, wet.…very bad idea. I would make so many mis­takes and I would cut off too much hair if I wasn’t care­ful.


When I saw this post I felt a lit­tle scared that my braid would become thin­ner way soon­er than I’d expect, and this would show­case that it’s actu­al­ly not as healthy as I had imag­ined. But alas, it’s the same thick­ness all through­out! Of course, my very ends need trim­ming, but I’ve been know­ing that. It’s good to know that it’s not more than that though!


Looks good to me. Though I don’t like to put my hair in small braids because they can be hell to take down.