7 Ways to Prevent Split Ends

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By Audrey Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care

Split ends are weakened areas along the hair shaft where the cuticle is breaking apart and the cortex of the hair is exposed. When hair becomes dry, brittle and under-moisturized without relief, the cuticle naturally begins to crack, chip and unravel. If left uncorrected, the split will worsen and begin exposing the inner cortex of the hair.

Depending on how the split end is situated on the hair shaft, a single split can unravel and travel quite a ways up the hair shaft. But most split ends simply peel away or break off near their starting points. The best way to get rid of split ends is to prevent new ones from occurring. Here are some tips for preventing split ends:

1. Trim Hair with Sharp, Quality Hair Shears

Trimming your ends regularly with sharp shears before they break off is great split end preventive maintenance. Clean cutting is very important to prevent split ends, and only sharp shears can guarantee a clean break. Make sure that your hair shears are only used on the hair. Using your scissors to clip coupons or to perform other random tasks will dull your shears.

2. Cut Hair Ends Straight Across

In addition to using sharp shears to maintain your ends, the direction of your trim is also important. Always snip straight across the ends of your hair, never at an angle. Angled trims increase the surface area of the new end and introduce more opportunities for splitting and breakage.

3. Avoid Wet Trimming

Whenever possible, trim your hair while it is dry. Some people prefer wet trimming, but this can lead to split ends, especially if the shears are dull. Think about cutting paper. Cutting wet paper does not give you as clean a cut as cutting the same paper dry. The same principle applies to your hair.

4. Reduce Your Heat

Heat is often the main cause of split ends resulting from physical hair trauma, because heat quickly reduces the hair’s natural moisture balance. Heat also temporarily alters the hair’s protein structure, which would typically keep the hair’s moisture balance in check. Repeated use of heated styling tools like flat irons and blow dryers should be avoided. If heat styling is a must, only use heat on freshly conditioned, clean hair that has been sprayed with a thermal protectant to prevent split ends.

5. Cut Out the Chemicals

Chemical processes like color treatments, relaxers and perms add spice to any style, but they must get deep into the hair’s cuticle to work their magic. Unfortunately, to get inside, these chemicals must break down and degrade the cuticle. When the cuticle is weakened, split ends are bound to appear at all points along the hair shaft. For color, stick with deposit-only colors and rinses.

6. Increase Deep Conditioning

Deep conditioning weekly with quality moisturizing conditioners and protein reconstructors is great for split end prevention. Protein treatments reinforce the cuticle and hair shaft so that they can resist premature chipping, peeling and breaking, while moisturizing deep conditioners help restore the hair’s delicate moisture balance.

7. Create a Moisture Barrier

Daily moisturizing with water-based moisturizing products and oiling the hair as a seal will also help prevent split ends. These products lubricate the hair fiber and keep the hair soft and supple. They also shield the hair from the harsh sun and other environmental hair stressors, like wind and humidity. Focus daily moisturizers and oils near the ends of the hair shaft, which are more vulnerable to split ends than the roots.

Ladies, how do you deal with split ends?

Audrey Sivasothy is a Houston-based freelance writer, health scientist and author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care (available on Amazon.com & Barnes&Noble.com).

For more insight from The Science of Black Hair— relaxed, natural or in between, visit us on the web atwww.blackhairscience.com and on facebook & twitter.

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Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founding editor of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008), social media and black beauty enthusiast. When I'm not here, I'm blogging at my new mommy site, babyandblog.com

 

29 thoughts on “7 Ways to Prevent Split Ends

  1. In terms of dealing with split ends — I cut those bad boys off. Any sort of repair is a temporary fix. Every 2-3 months I do the “search & destroy” method where I examine my ends and cut the splits, the knots, and mid shaft splits.

    At one point, I was so obsessed with removing splits I would use my work scissors to cut them when I saw them. Hair scissors are now my BFF!

    When I’m not feeling lazy, I moisturize every other day, I haven’t used heat in years, and I am a firm believer (for my hair at least) that I do not need to deep condition regularly (haven’t done this in the last year and I’ve seen growth). What has helped me prevent splits is protective styling, proper handling techniques, and leave in moisturizer.

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    • After 2 years, yesterday was my first time NOT using a deep conditioner! I was so afraid that my hair today would just snap right off, but lo and behold, she didn’t :). IDK if it was because I did my clay treatment yesterday or not, but it was a success! I might be able to cut it down to twice a month, rather than weekly.

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      • Yeah, I stopped using deep conditioners only because it added an extra 40 minutes to my routine. I’m always looking for ways to cut down on time. I haven’t seen much of an impact.

        I do, though, pre-poo by conditioning my hair as soon as I take out my 2 strand twists.

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    • I couldn’t agree more. I used to dc my hair to try to prevent frizz and I figured out that the reason my hair was frizzy was because I was obeying the number one rule of curly hair which for me needs to be broken. I have to comb my hair if I want to wear it down. Exclusively wet combing my hair and not combing it again makes it look a bit frizzy. The only reason I do a weekly treatment with coconut oil is to reduce the amount of tangling my hair experiences under the shower head. I also wash in braids to assist even more with tangle reduction. But, I pretty much comb my hair dry with coconut oil all the time now anyway, except when I want perfect curls, which take more time than what I often have available. I also like volume more than definition so combing dry really helps, the only place I insist on definition is on the ends of my hair. I don’t like the frizzed out look. Combing coconut oil through my hair and castor oil through my ends, that helps a lot. I also dust my hair in sections regularly and every few months I cut just the very tip of my hair. I spent $85 on my scissors. When I am not going anywhere I just wear protective styles and often for errands too I just wear two braids or a bun and I always moisturize before tucking away.

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  2. I have seen so many new products that say they repair split ends which makes me wonder how it works but I say the best way is to start fresh and clip the split ends also sealing your ends can also prevent split ends. I normally use castor oil works great!!!

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    • Hi,

      Those magical products claiming to repair split in are a gimmick! It’s a typical marketing scheme aimed at us hair-care-fanatics. They know we will buy it because we are so concerned about our ends. These products work by TEMPORARILY ‘gluing’ the ends together giving the illusion of fixed split ends. They don’t repair them permanently. Also, they can claim they “repair” because they do, in fact, put a bandaid over the problem and keeps that bandaid over it with continued use. Ta-Da! It’s repaired!

      That stuff is bologna! Cut those bad babies and keep it moving…

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  3. HI !

    I’m not natural anymore so not sure I’m even suppose to give a contribution here… I just couldn’t let go of this site…
    Anyway, in order to prevent split ends I have few tips though
    -when I moisturize I always start with the ends so I won’t neglect or forget to apply product there
    -I add castor oil to the ends… every time I remember to do it!
    -I do the ‘search and destroy method’ so I won’t cut healthy hair
    -when I detangle I start with the ends when its damp not wet or dry
    -when I do a protective style (a bun most of the time) I HIDE the ends inside the bun lol

    soo… this is what I do
    what about you ladies ?

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    • I learned I have to moisturize and seal my hair daily. At least seal my ends. I wash often (ever 3-4 day) so that keeps my moisture level high…

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  4. I’ve been doing all of these for a little over 3 years and still had a few splits and fairy knots until I started moisturizing daily. Moisturizing is key for me! It makes everything easier (detangling, shampooing, etc.), especially when it comes to keeping my ends hydrated. I had to trim my hair last month and found minimal splits and trimming was a breeze.

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    • When you say moisturize daily did you have to add a water based moisturizer along with the oil or can you just apply oil? Let me know, thanks.

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  5. I had no idea wet trimming was bad for the hair! For me, wet trimming helps me trim my hair because my dry hair is too curly. I guess I’ll have to find a different way…

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    • i too usually trim on wet hair, because I can wrap the wet ends around my finger tips to see how much I am cutting. the ends stick to my finger because they’re wet. Maybe I can use a creamy leave in instead to get the same effect. How else am I suppose to know how much I am cutting?

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  6. I rinse with beer and add boiled ground protein (sago, barley, linseed and occasionally oats) to my shampoo and conditioner. I trim my ends when my hair is dry but I always thought that was the WRONG way to do it, turns out that is was the RIGHT way :)

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  7. I trim my hair every 3-4 months (1/4 in) with every sharp shears.
    I also DC once a week, always use a light leave in conditioner, cowash (instead of shampoo) and seal ends with a combo of argan and coconut oils. I rarely see a knot or a split end. Oh, and I use no heat or chemicals whatsoever.

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  8. 935389 5446For anyone one of the lucky people?s, referring purchase certain products, and in addition you charm all of the envy of all the the numerous any other individuals around you that tend to have effort as such make a difference. motor movers 250961

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  9. I hate split ends…I always make sure I get a regular trim to prevent them. I even went all out and bought the whole Pro Naturals hair care line online from beyas, good thing I did though because my hair is looking awesome and I haven’t had any more split ends yet :)

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  10. Those magical products claiming to repair split in are a gimmick! It’s a typical marketing scheme aimed at us hair-care-fanatics. They know we will buy it because we are so concerned about our ends. These products work by TEMPORARILY ‘gluing’ the ends together giving the illusion of fixed split ends. They don’t repair them permanently. Also, they can claim they “repair” because they do, in fact, put a bandaid over the problem and keeps that bandaid over it with continued use. Ta-Da! It’s repaired! 935389 5446For anyone one of the lucky people?s, referring purchase certain products, and in addition you charm all of the envy of all the the numerous any other individuals around you that tend to have effort as such make a difference. motor movers 250961.
    When I’m not feeling lazy, I moisturize every other day, I haven’t used heat in years, and I am a firm believer (for my hair at least) that I do not need to deep condition regularly (haven’t done this in the last year and I’ve seen growth). What has helped me prevent splits is protective styling, proper h

    andling techniques, and leave in moisturizer.

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  11. I have to say, it does not matter what routine I follow or what I do, my hair just cannot be “healthy” of healthy means it lacks breakage, split ends, weak hair, etc. But my hair is hip length and has never fallen out of my head plus it has always grown very fast. My hair pretty much defies what every expert thinks they know about hair. Personally I don’t care if ppl think that I should cut my hair because it does not fit their standard of healthy. I remember cutting my hair so much when I was younger because of split ends, only to find that after cutting it I had the same amount as before I started. And guess what, a year later my hair would be past my rear again with the same amount of split ends as ever. I do have a routine that at least stops me from seeing my split ends so that I am not tempted to cut my hair bald, which my husband would not like, well I wouldn’t either. I moisturize now anywhere from two to three times a day. And yah, I am not high po, I am low po, and no low po regimen has stopped me from getting splits either. Protective styles give me breakage which is worse. I usually do about three to four barriers which does weigh my hair a bit but at least it takes on the strength and appearance of healthy hair. As long as I do that I rarely see splits, maybe one in the morning when I wake up with a dry mouth.

    I am obsessed with healthy eating, I don’t do low fat or anything. I also do catnip tea rinses which help, but do not eliminate.

    Drawing the race card for a minute…being mixed and having a black father, my dad relaxed go’s hair once and his hair fell out, his scalp is permanently damaged and the hair never grew back. He said they left the relaxer in too long. He never let me relax my hair.

    Many black women have relaxed their hair and some of them, when transitioning to natural hair, will experience what I have faced all my life…unrelenting, stubbornly splitting hair. If the person has not grown long hair under this circumstance before, she may not know that it indeed is possible and for some ppl the only way…is to simply not obsess over it too much. I do not agree with ppl who pick off split ends or who go the route of trying to seal them with products or even household DIY stuff. It is really simple to just snip a good deal of them individually on a regular basis, and maybe trim your length only if they are starting to get out of control.

    My hair, personally, has never fallen off or broken off of my head because of it. In fact, what’s baffling is that my hair has attracted some of the healthy hair snobs who claim they get no split ends, because they think my hair is so “healthy.” My hair indeed does look healthy because I take great care of it. But the reality is that my hair is very prone and vulnerable to splitting and what I have concluded is that I will just never be one of those ppl who can brag that they do not get split ends. I don’t see what trophy is in that anyway, if split ends are not causing me a problem. I have been told by many ppl that my hair is among one of the most beautiful heads of hair they have ever seen, I can’t see that myself, but that is what ppl say. My hair also grows, not only extremely long, if not longer than many ppl who are split free or claim to be, but faster.

    I am not trying to brag I am only trying to encourage anyone who is just starting her hair journey to not get too hung up on split ends. I personally think anyone who wants maximum length hair is going to have to give up on the fantasy of perfect hair.

    This is coming from a healthy diet obsessed, perfect bloodwork having, organic, crunchy mama, and yah, I have split ends, but I do not see them as long as I moisturize my hair.

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  12. hi guys!please can you help me? iv’e got a head full of really really thick hair. the roots are thick but i cant get the ends thick as well. I’ve tried trimming and it’s great as it gains length but doesn’t thicken them. any tips? :-S

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  13. Funny. This article was made on my birthday last year! *holllaaaa* (:
    I’m 13, and just starting my hair journey (relaxed). I just cut off my split ends. (Hadn’t had a trim in 7-8 months!!! :P). Follow me on ig: @triangularpolaroids

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  14. Pingback: Beauty Tip of the Week: Split End Prevention | Yasmin Felice

  15. I use argan oil EVERYTHING and it does prevent split ends :) I use sulfate free shampoo too, anything from the Pro naturals haircare line, they have the BEST argan oil stuff you can get.

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