What are Split Ends?
Split ends are a common sight where the tips of your hair strands split into two or three parts. Sometimes, the divided strands can continue to split downwards to the root of the hair for two to three centimetres or more. The splitting can occur on any hair strands and the severity of the problem depends on how you manage and prevent further damage to your hair. Left unattended, this condition can further deteriorate and can make your hair look rough, fuzzy and reflect the impression of poorly groomed hair, a stigma for most women.
What Causes Split Ends?
Each of your hair strands are made up of different layers of dead cells produced by your hair follicles. The outermost layer of your hair is known as the cuticle, which consists of layers of dead protein cells known as keratin. The hair cuticle is strong and robust and the structure resembles overlapping scales arranged in a vertical alignment that helps shape your hair.
Right underneath the hair cuticle is the cortex, a thick layer of dead cells that gives your hair volume. This layer also controls the hair’s flexibility and elasticity. Without the protection of the cuticle, the cortex is fragile and can be easily be damaged in the harsh environment.
Split ends usually occur when the cuticle layer at the tip of your hair is damaged or removed. Without the rigid structure of the cuticle holding the hair together, the hair fibers inside can easily dislodge and split into a few parts and that is where the problem begins
So what are the main causes that can remove this precious layer from your hair? Some of the suggested culprits are:
- Hair Dyes
Regular dyeing of your hair is a major cause of hair splitting. Most semi and permanent dyeing chemicals weakens the hair cuticle’s structure to allow the dyeing agents to penetrate through to the hair shaft. Frequent usage of these hair coloring will increase the chances of damaging the outer layer and plying the way for more hair breakages and splits.
Chemical perms are definitely on the top list for causing split ends. Bonding and unbonding chemicals like hair relaxers can break up and damage the disulfide bonds that holds the keratin structure together. Using them can diminish the hair cuticle’s strength and integrity making them more vulnerable to cracking up.
Too much blow drying or sun exposure can diminish the moisture and essential oils from your hair causing it to turn rigid and brittle. Heat can also break up the hair cuticle’s structure making the hair vulnerable to splitting. Other leading causes of overheating are frequent usage of straightening and curling irons.
Washing your hair with a harsh shampoo can further amplify the damage of the hair cuticle. Some types of shampoo might contain strong detergents that can even strip away the hair cuticle’s layer so beware of the shampoo that you are using. Dryness is also another common issue people have from shampooing their hair.
If your hair is long, the natural oils excreted from your hair follicles might not be able to reach to the ends of the hair. These oils are essential to keep your hair moistened and conditioned as well as preventing splittings. Therefore, people with long hair are at higher risk of facing split ends that people with short hair. Coupled with extensive usage of chemicals and heating elements, your hair is more prone to breakages and splitting.
Treating Split Ends
Can you treat it? The answer is a straight NO. Once your hair’s cuticle layer is destroyed or removed and the hair has already separated, there is nothing you can do to reverse the condition.
Although there are many products on the market that say otherwise (just like many hair loss miracle products?) the most they can do is provide a temporary solution to your problem. Some employ addictives that temporary bond the split ends together while some products envelop the tips of your hair with an artificial layer like silicon, which has been proven to further dry your hair and can cause more breakages.
These methods are only temporary and the problem will usually reoccur after a few shampooing sessions when the chemicals are slowly washed away. The best way to effectively handle splitting is to…
Trim Trim Trim
The only effective way to eliminate the split ends is to cut them off. Yes, although you might want to keep a long hair style, it seems that to prevent the splitting from getting worse, the only way to do it is by getting rid of it.
By trimming off the damaged ends, you will prevent the hair from breaking further down. So it’s good to trim your hair every two weeks or when you notice more splitting.
The best long term cure for split ends is prevention and a good hair maintenance ethic. Follow some of the simple steps below and your will greatly reduce your chances of hair splitting.
- Keep your hair clean and conditioned at all times
Dirty hair and a poor environment can weaken and damage your hair. Regularly washing your hair with a mild shampoo and conditioning it twice a week is a good way to keep it strong. If you have long hair, make sure the tips get a load of the conditioner too.
- Hot oil treatments rock!
Regular hot oil treatments are especially effective if you have dry hair. Dry hair is a primary cause of hair breakages and split ends. Due to dry weather or under-active sebaceous glands, your hair can turn overly dry. A weekly hot oil treatment can help invigorate your hair and prevent split ends. Once again, applying the oil from the tips first is generally more effective.
- Brushing it right
Over brushing your hair can damage your hair cuticles. Doing it with a narrow toothed plastic brush or comb can make matters worse. Static and tight constant contact with the hair cuticle is a sure way to strip the layer off. Use a wide wooden bristled brush or comb and brush your hair gently will avoid this problem from emerging.
- Less heat is less splitting
If you are a fan of fast intense heat blow drying to get your hair dry, stop it. Excess heat doesn’t only blows out the water from the surface your hair fast, it causes the oils and water to evaporate from the inside too, stripping it dry. Not only that, excess heat can expand your hair shaft causing your hair cuticle’s structure to break. If you want to blow, use cool and low pressure blowing techniques.
Split ends are usually an end result of poor hair care and insufficient knowledge of product application. In order to prevent more of your hair from splitting, preventing the above common mistakes are imperative for long, lasting and beautiful hair. So save it before it splits. Visit us at www.4haircare.com.au to know more about HAIR rescue SPA