Split ends, scientifically known as Trichoptilosis, happen when the hair’s protective cuticle has been stripped away from the ends, causing a splitting of the hair shaft that gives it a feathery appearance. Trims, excessive brushing, heat, elastic bands, hair extensions, towel drying, and even dry scalp, are all causes of split ends. There is no “cure” for split ends, the only way to get rid of them is to cut them off.
The ends of your hair are very important. Dry, split ends cause breakage, while moisturized ends are more pliable and retain length. Some people shy away from trimming their ends because they do not want to lose length. But keep in mind that split ends cause the hair to split all the way up to the scalp, which will result in you having to get a major cut. Split ends should be cut at least 1 inch above the split.
Another good way to prevent split ends, along with moisturizing, is the adding of “dusting” of your ends to your hair routine. I would describe dusting as cutting off less than an inch of your ends. When your ends start to feel crunchy, or you hear popping when you detangle, or start to see tiny hairs in the sink that are not old shedded hairs (with white bulbs at the tips), these are signs that you may need to “dust” your ends. The easiest way to trim/dust your own ends is when your hair is in box braids or twists. Simply cut a little (about a half inch or less) off the ends of each twist or braid.
To keep a regular schedule of trimming/dusting, some people follow lunar cycles. They cut on certain days of the week to lengthen, strengthen or thicken hair. There are also certain days of the week within each season designated for cuts. I can not testify as to the results, but it is a good way to keep a hair trimming routine, thereby preventing split ends. Check out Morrocco Method International’s downloadable lunar haircutting chart .
To protect your ends, get in the routine of moisturizing them during the week. Use oils such as shea butter, castor oil, olive oil or almond oil to protect your ends. Conditioning after shampooing (rinse with cool water to close your hair cuticle), detangling with conditioner, and adding a monthly deep conditioner to your hair care routine also help prevent split ends—as well as avoiding heat, air drying whenever possible, and keeping your hair moisturized. Wearing “protective” styles, such as braids, cornrows, or twists, are also helpful in protecting your ends.
For those with longer hair, in colder seasons protect your ends by wearing silk or satin scarves around your shoulders to keep your ends from rubbing against wool coats and cotton sweaters, or wear protective styles like updos or buns. Make sure that the hats you wear have a silk or satin lining or wear a silk/satin scarf underneath them. Cotton absorbs moisture and also snags your hair, therefore, at night use a silk/satin scarf, bonnet or pillow case.
More Info on Split Ends
- Laquita Thomas-Banks