Split ends can spoil an otherwise fabulous hairdo. If you despair of ever being able to achieve sleek, glossy locks it’s time to take action. We’ve been working with hair for many years and it’s fair to say that most of us suffer from split ends at some point. They are a result of damage to the hair, often caused by heat but other environmental factors such as colour treatments or over-brushing or bleaching hair can also have an effect.
If split ends are downgrading your hairdo, you’ve come to the right place. We share our salon know how on the causes of split ends, how to get rid of split ends and how to prevent split ends in the first place.
What are Split Ends?
Split ends happen when hair is dry and brittle. Each hair strand has an outer layer called the cuticle. When the cuticle is lifted due to damage from heat or other environmental factors, the core of the hair is unable to retain moisture. Without moisture, the hair becomes frayed at the ends. If split ends are left unchecked they can ride up the shaft of the hair and cause further damage.
If you are wondering what split ends look like, think about a piece of string or a shoelace that has lost the seal at the end. The ends begin to fray and if you tug on it a little, the frayed ends start to ride up the string or shoelace.
You can also see our diagram here.
Of course, hair doesn’t just split at the ends. It can split at any part of the hair shaft if the cuticle is dry.
What Causes Split Ends?
Whenever we talk to a customer about a hair problem or we write a blog on a particular issue like split ends we like to go back to the beginning and understand the causes. We find it helps to inform the solution. We’ve often been asked what causes split ends and it’s a good question. So here, in no particular order, are the top 10 causes of split ends.
The Cause of Split Ends
Too much heat.
Excessive use of a hair dryer at high temperatures or over-reliance on the straighteners, or indeed any heated styling tools. As a result, we are huge fans of finding more gentle alternatives for hair styling. Using your hairdryer is fine at cooler temperatures and for short bursts. Take a look at our blog on using Velcro Rollers for a more gentle method for styling hair.
Exposure to the sun.
We love sunny days as much as anyone but the sun’s rays are drying for hair and can lead to frayed ends.
Rubbing too hard
If you’re in the habit of roughly drying your hair with a towel after washing, it’s time to take a more gentle approach. Hair is most vulnerable when it’s wet and getting too rough with a towel can break the hair and exacerbate split ends.
Over-styling comes in many forms. From over-brushing to too much combing, even the things that we don’t think about like pulling our hair back into a ponytail. And that reminds us! Elastic hair ties are a big no-no. Choose a scrunchie or some other soft fabric hair tie. There’s nothing more guaranteed to break the hair than yanking out an elastic hair tie that’s got stuck.
Battling the elements
We’ve already mentioned the sun, but the truth is most weather conditions can cause hair breakage. Cold weather and wind are drying for hair, causing breakage and split ends. Throw central heating into the mix and your hair has to contend with multiple different temperatures all conspiring to make it dry.
Getting into hot water
Wash hair at a moderate temperature. Using water that’s too hot leaves hair feeling parched. It can also be drying for the scalp which doesn’t have an immediate impact on split ends but it does have an impact on the health of your hair, which in turn has an impact on its susceptibility to becoming dry.
It comes naturally
Some of us just have hair that is prone to dryness and so our hair is more prone to having split ends. This is often the case for those with thicker, coarse hair.
The thing about any hair colour treatment is that in order for the colour to hold, it has to open up the cuticle. Once the cuticle is open it becomes more vulnerable to becoming dry. That’s why you have to pay more attention to adding moisture to bleached hair or coloured hair.
Making like a mermaid
If you love to swim, we are right there with you. Great, though it might be for your fitness, it’s another story for your hair. Chlorine is exceptionally drying for the hair, especially if your hair is coloured.
Well not sleeping as such. More the pillow on which you lay your head. As you move around at night, cotton pillows rough up the cuticle and can be a big factor in causing hair breakage. Switching to a silk pillow will give your hair a better night’s beauty sleep.
We could go on, but we think you probably get the picture. Pretty much everything we do to our hair can cause split ends but before we talk about prevention, we’d like to focus on how you can get rid of split ends if you already have them.
How to Get Rid of Split Ends in 4 Easy Steps
You may well recognise some of the culprits listed above. If you already have a split ends you may be wondering how on earth you can fix them. Well here’s what we recommend in 4 easy steps.
STEP 1: Cut It
Allow the split ends to linger and you’ll find they ride up the hair shaft, causing further damage to the hair and even breakage. Nip them in the bud with a trim every 6 to 8 weeks. We can almost hear the sharp intake of breath. But here’s the thing. Trimming your hair on a regular basis will leave your hair looking longer and more lush. This may sound counter-intuitive. However, a sharp edge at the ends of the hair leaves hair looking fuller than it does if the ends have become scraggly and broken. Plus if your hair breaks because the split ends are riding up the hair, you’ll probably find you have to cut your hair much shorter to repair the damage.
STEP 2: Cool It
Give your hair a break from the straighteners, turn down the temperature on the hairdryer and let your hair dry naturally once a week. Use a leave in conditioner to add moisture to hair when styling. So, keeping focused on two things really helps when dealing with split ends; use less heat and add more moisture to the hair. Adding moisture to the hair helps to smooth the cuticle and stop any further breakage.
STEP 3: Love It
Love your hair and treat it well. Go gentle on brushing and combing. Therefore, don’t pull and tug the hair, particularly when it’s wet and at it’s most fragile. If you are combing hair when wet, use a wide-tooth comb and gently hold the mid-lengths of the hair so that you don’t pull at the roots. Start combing from the ends, working your way up the hair with no tension at the roots.
STEP 4: Treat It
Treat your hair to some nourishing ingredients. Imagine what you’d do if your skin was peeling after sun exposure. You’d add moisture. Choose hair products with ingredients that will add moisture, not deplete it. We love pro-vitamin B5 for its ability to penetrate the hair with moisture and it helps to prevent split ends. A weekly treat with our pro-vitamin B5 rich Restore and Shine Hair Masque will help to keep split ends in check.
How to Get Rid of Split Ends Without Cutting Hair?
The answer is that you can’t remove split ends without cutting hair. But the good news is that you can temporarily seal your split ends. In our years of running our own salon, we found it frustrating that so many styling products contained harsh ingredients that were drying for the hair. It put our Creative Director and Founder Norris Ogario on a journey of developing a new styling range.
As a result, the focus was to deliver something that would improve the condition of the hair but also give control and speed up styling in order to reduce the drying time and subsequently the amount of heat applied to hair during styling.
Our styling range was tried and tested in our salon over a couple of years. The results? An innovative styling range that works as a leave in conditioner, speeds up drying time and temporarily seals split ends. The products contain tiny bubbles of keratin and argan oil that go to where the hair is damaged sealing the cuticle and the split ends to lock in moisture.
So, yes you can temporarily get rid of split ends without cutting hair.
How to Prevent Split Ends
Once, you’ve got rid of those pesky split ends with a trim at your favourite hair salon, it’s all about making sure they don’t come back. Therefore, prevention is now top of your list in the battle against split ends.
Take a look at our recommendations below for how to prevent split ends.
- Use a good quality hairbrush. Brushing is a good way of bringing the shine back to hair as it distributes the natural oils, helping with the overall health of hair. But as always! Too much of a good thing can be bad for your hair and over-brushing can cause breakage. So, take it easy.
- Heat makes hair dry and prone to breakage. We recommend washing hair in warm water, not too hot. Not to mention opting for cooler settings on the hairdryer. Our preference is to avoid straighteners, but if you must, use them occasionally and always use heat protection.
- Go gentle on hair when it’s wet. Gently squeeze out water from the hair. Some towels can be a bit harsh on the hair. Therefore using a microfibre towel is a better option.
- Reduce time under the hairdryer. Our styling range speeds up drying time when applied to damp (not dripping wet!) hair before styling.
- Protect hair from the midday sun. In a hot climate cover hair to reduce damage.
- Wear a swimming cap. Chlorine and saltwater are incredibly drying for hair so it’s best to keep hair covered when you take a plunge.
- Get regular trims. A haircut is not a one-off event or even a once-a-year event. To prevent split ends a trim every 6-8 weeks is the answer.
- Sleep on a silk pillow. Hair gets broken as we move around at night. Laying your head on a slippery fabric really does help. Therefore, satin also works a treat.
- Add moisture to your hair at every opportunity. Condition hair every time you shampoo. Use a deep conditioner once a week. Use leave in conditioners before styling hair. For excessively dry hair a spritz of Glossy Mist will add moisture to hair in between washes.
We hate to see hair that’s damaged and broken. Split ends are not inevitable and we are on a mission to share our knowledge gained in over 35 years of hairdressing and working with many hair types. We think there’s a better way to treat hair and we write extensively about how to take care of hair and improve the condition of hair. If you want to improve the condition of your hair, we recommend taking a look at some of our other articles below.
If you are a bleached beauty, we share tips on keeping hair looking and feeling great in our blog, How to Take Bleached Hair and Fix Damage.
Dry hair is one of the most common problems for hair. That’s why we focus on how to get the most from dry hair treatments in our blog, Dry Hair Treatment: How to Fix Dry Hair this Autumn.
If you are new to deep conditioners, take a look at our blog, Salon Know How: Why use a Deep Conditioning Hair Mask? We share tips on using a deep conditioning hair mask by hair type.
Ogario London is a salon developed, natural hair care range. As a niche brand, we are passionate about our products and delivering the best results is at the heart of what we do. If you have any questions about our products, would like advice on the best products for your hair type, or have another question about how to look after your hair, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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