6 Tips for Naturals Who Want Thicker, Stronger Ends


By Chinwe of Hair and Health

You have been natural for some time.  Your hair is growing, but your ends are thin, scraggly, brittle, weak, and/or split.  If this sounds like your situation, then understand that your ends do not have to be this way throughout your natural hair journey. Here are six tips to get you started towards thicker, stronger ends:

1. Trim away split ends and other damage

If you want to eliminate thin, brittle ends, then start first by trimming away any moderate to severe damage.  Though this step may sound obvious, many of us still hold on to such damage in hopes of keeping our length OR magically reverting back to healthy ends.  To put it bluntly, split ends need to be cut.  Severely worn ends need to be cut.  These weak points need to be removed. (Check out this post for various ways to trim natural hair.)  After your trim, you can then really focus on achieving thicker, stronger ends using the following steps …

2. Use a protein conditioner on your ends

The use of protein conditioners tends to be underrated in the natural hair community while moisture is usually at the forefront of our minds.  Though moisture is obviously necessary, protein can be beneficial in temporarily reinforcing the ends of our hair, particularly areas where the cuticle has been lost.  Such reinforcement can allow for thicker, stronger ends in the immediate moment (due to temporary patching of the cuticle) as well as in the long run (due to protection against breakage and splits).  Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner, if needed.

3. Lubricate your ends liberally prior to manipulation

Many naturals already know about the importance of “sealing” – application of an oil and/or a butter to the ends in order to help lock in moisture.  However, not as many naturals know about the importance of “lubricating” the ends, especially prior to manipulation of any sort.  So why is this process useful?  Well, application of an oil and/or butter to the ends can reduce friction that might otherwise cause knotting, tangling, splits, and worn ends.  Thus, it can be beneficial to not only apply these substances after you moisturize but also before you style (e.g., twist your hair, bun your hair) or separate (e.g., undo twists for a twist-out, separate an old braid-out) your hair.

4. Keep direct heat usage to a minimum OR eliminate it altogether

While you may not experience immediate heat damage (that is, permanently straight strands), you can accumulate an abundance of split ends with the overuse of heating tools.  Thus, it is better to keep heat usage to a minimum (and that minimum varies from one natural to another) or to cut it out altogether.

5. Handle your ends gently AND as little as possible

The less you handle your hair, the less wear and tear you will experience, especially at the ends.  For some naturals, this means protective styling long-term while for others this means adopting a simple, low-manipulation style routine.  Also, when you are manipulating your hair, be very gentle at the ends; tugging, pulling, and tension can lead to splits and faster wear.

6. Moisturize your ends sufficiently and regularly

This last tip may seem like a no-brainer, but how many of us can be honest with ourselves about being on top of our moisture game ALL of the time … especially when it comes to the very ends of our strands?  The reality is that dry ends can transform into broken, thin ends over time, so make this tip a priority!

Have any of these steps helped your ends?



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31 thoughts on “6 Tips for Naturals Who Want Thicker, Stronger Ends

  1. Thanks, that is very helpful for me.
    The most challeging goal to me is definitely not growing my hair out of my scalp but keeping them healthy, especially the ends! This is really difficult. I am going to try every single thing here.

  2. I have kind if been doing a “moisturizing ends” challenge for the past couple of months to see if it will make any difference with my thin hair and brittle ends. I have to say, I see a little improvement which is good! I have narrowed it down to products I use exclusively for my ends and I love them: B.A.S.K. Palm Tapoica and Oyin handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade. Yes, these are a bit pricy but they will last a LONG time… a little goes a very long way. Thanks for a tip I never thought of: protein conditioner just on the ends. I do a full-head protein treatment every six weeks but now I’ll try just on just the ends once a week between the full treatment.

  3. Thanks for the tips. December will be my 2yr anniversary since I BC. Last week I trimmed off all the split ends and I’m going to take your advice and condition the ends with protein conditioners. I am also going to no longer use heat. Thanks so much :)

  4. So helpful..I finally trimmed my hair but soooo glad I did.For anyone that is nervous just go for it..your ends will thank you . It’s so freeing not length checking all the time or worrying how long my hair is.

    I know length will come but I am enjoying where I am now. :)

    • I like ORS (Organic Root Stimulator) Replenishing Conditioner. Some naturals who have color-treated hair and/or mild breakage like ApHogee 2-Minute Keratin Reconstructor (not to be confused with the harsher ApHogee 2-step Protein Treatment).

      Hope that helps!

  5. Awesome tips. I pretty much do all of these except use protein on my ends. It is my plan to incorporate this step. My hair is protein sensitive and I’ve avoided the use of protein for the most part but I’m interested to see how my ends only respond to the protein love.
    Relaxed Thairapy

  6. I do understand the importance of trimming dead ends, and I generally don’t ever hesitate to eliminate them, however, my dilemma is this: When I go to a salon, and it’s only to get my ends trimmed, they almost always end up cutting way more than needed, even with me telling them not to cut too much or showing them with my fingers. When I ry to trim my ends myself, I’m not always sure if I’m cutting correctly or enough. For these reasons, trimming my ends is always anxiety-inducing and it’s starting to appear as though I can’t achieve a certain length anymore, unless keep a weave in. Anyone know of a fool-proof method for trimming or dusting ends?

  7. I don’t trim. My hair has done just fine without trimming. To me, trimming isn’t an ancient thing, and the people back then has done just fine. In my opinion, which is subject to be wrong, trimming only makes the hair shorter. I’ve been natural since 2009 and my hair is doing okay. I do agree with the other points however and will throw an egg in my hair with oils, let it sit, and rinse it out for a natural protein treatment. Thank you. Love this site!! :)

    • The purpose of trimming,is to get rid of split nor weathered ends.It should not dramatically affect the length as that is a cut and there is a difference.

  8. Can I just add one?

    Don’t colour your hair !

    I’ve had natural hair for years and I have coloured my hair for years as well. Whilst I colored my hair I would do intense aphogee protein treatments to keep my hair healthy. It would look healthy but I could always feel the difference in my two textures.

    December will make 2 years since I stopped coloring my hair and I have recently cut off all the old colored ends

    sure one photo is a braid out weighed in shea butter and the other an afro but I think its clear that my braid outs can not look like that anymore.

    Sure there are ladies who can get away with colouring. Shea Moisture even makes coloring products now that i’m sure would be less damaging than the box colors I used. but i’m just saying if you color and you’re trying to find where your thickness went….this may be a clue.

    • You are sooo right! Colouring your hair is so risky! My whole healthy hair journey was sparked by the worst dye job. I had to big chop twice because of it. I thought my hair was never going to be the same after wards! But it is healthier now than ever. Please think , think, think, ladies about dying your hair with anything! If you want long healthy hair don’t Dye it AT ALL!
      Thanks for the tips too! this was a very helpful article!

        • Natural Hennas seem to be the way to go. I have GREYS! Yikes! and I don’t wont to rock that look quite yet. Kimmaytube has a great recent video dedicated to Henna coloring your greys and hair PERIOD! It is awesome and I am going to try it. I color with box and realize it is time to let that go. My thickness and overall hair health is depending on it.

    • You know what I colored my hair and it really made it hard to keep my hair from snapping and splitting. However when the greys pop up I may have to revisit it.

      • So true! I’m still dealing with bleach from a serious (& cute) highlighting job 2 years ago! It looked great, but made the ends scraggly, rough, dry, & resulted in a loss of curl pattern…I have been cutting it off bit by bit & may just be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Beware of color!

  9. I follow tips 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6. They really have helped my ends stay think and healthy-looking.

    1. I trim 1/4 an inch every 3-4 months.

    3. I seal my ends with castor oil on wash day. I also seal them nightly if I’m wearing a braid out or when I style my hair into a bun.

    4. I use heat rarely. I do a tension blow-out for my birthday. Other than that, I don’t use heat (except to deep condition).

    5. I handle my ends very gently — finger-detangling exclusively helps a lot in this arena. I also minimize handling my ends when I wear a bun or updo.

    6. I moisturize your ends a lot — I spritz with water and seal with castor oil nightly if I’m rockin’ a braid out. If my ends are tucked, they’ve well oiled before styling.

  10. Pingback: All about protein moisture balance | Soul Hair

  11. my hair is thin in the back @the nape always have been just started using castor oil bought some Camille rose fresh curls revitalizing hair smoother Avocado oil /castor oil so far I really like it my hair oil of choice is red palm oil mixed with organic coconut oil /I switch up sometimes by using wild growth .

  12. The last relaxer was June 2013 I had box braids since july 2013 I redo them every six weeks before my braids I was getting my hair done every two weeks until it started breaking off my hair was maybe 4-6inches in length I brsidedy hair to grow it out that usually works for me I found that my growth is a inch a month after I take the braids out I want naturally grow my hair with no chemicals in it what do recommend I do to keep my hair healthy and free from breakage when I transition over to natural hair my hair is somewhat thin and a bit curly?

  13. This is exactly the information I was looking for! Great post and tips! I think when people think of hair growth, they forget about retaining the length they already have. Protecting your ends is the way to do that.

    I will start doing protein treatments & wearing low maintence styles!

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