Split ends! They’ve made many a head look unhealthy and they’re the culprit behind the stunted hair growth of millions. It’s fair to say that split ends are the archnemesis of hair growth. As long as you have hair on your head, it’s bound to split at some point because that’s just what hair does. The more you submit your hair to chemical, physical, and thermal abuse, the faster it’ll split. The more your protect your hair and the gentler you treat it, the slower your hair will split.
If you currently have split ends, you absolutely want to take care of them right away. The longer you hold on to split ends, the further those splits will travel up the hair shaft, until eventually you’re left with extremely damaged and broken hair that even a wing and a prayer can’t save. However, if you utilize the one and only solution for severely split ends, you can turn the condition of your hair around and reach your long hair goals faster than if you hold onto split ends. So what is this magical solution? Cutting your split ends! But before we jump to the gun, let’s find out if you even have split ends to begin with.
How Do I know if I Have Split Ends?
Split ends are like dust in the wind, we can’t always see it, but we know it’s there. As long as you have hair on your head, it’s susceptible to splitting. Split ends start at a scale that is so small they can’t be detected by the human eye. When your split ends get to the point where we can see them, then your hair is severely damaged and needs to be cut immediately (seriously, go get some scissors right now and cut those ends!). Even if your hair hasn’t reached the point to where you can see that your ends are split, your hair will still physically show if you have them or not.
Hair that is healthy and has minimal split ends will have the same thickness and fullness from the roots of the hair toward the ends, with a slight taper the closer you get to the ends of the hair. As our hair grows, the ends of our hair will naturally thin and taper. This is due to normal wear and tear, and the fact that the ends of the hair are the oldest part of the hair on our heads at any given moment. There really isn’t much you can do about the normal wear and tear our hair sustains. However, if you have split ends, the ends of your hair will become extremely thin over time.
The type of thinness that is caused by split ends is not gradual, it’s extremely noticeable. If your hair is relatively thick at the roots but drastically thin towards the ends, split ends are likely the culprit. This is drastic change in thickness is what many experienced hair professionals call “see-through ends.” The term is pretty self-explanatory in that split ends have caused a person’s hair to become so thin that you can see through the ends of the hair as it rests against the back of your shirt or as you hold a section of hair up to light.
The bottom line is that if you’re treating your hair well, you can assume that it’s splitting at a much slower rate than normal. If you’re abusing your hair and submitting it to unnecessary stressors that cause damage, you can assume that it’s splitting at a faster rate than normal.
How to Cut Split Ends
When it comes to split ends, I believe that the method you use to cut them depends on your hair type. If you have straight hair with no discernible waves or curl pattern, it’s easier to see where your hair drastically tapers off at the ends, and you should simply cut a quarter of an inch or more above that point to get rid of split ends.
If you have wavy hair, I suggest you put your hair in a single braid at the nape of your hair and cut the braid at the point where it drastically begins to taper. Now if you have layers cut into your hair and you’d like to keep them, this method may not work for you. Then I’d suggest you cut your hair while it’s wet and use the method above for straighter hair textures to get rid of split ends. If you have layers and you don’t mind losing them, then go ahead with the braided cut method to get rid of split ends.
If you have curly or highly textured hair, the last thing you want to do is straighten it to cut split ends. That defeats the purpose and there are better methods to cut split ends that don’t require further damage to your hair. I recommend you place your hair in two-strand twists all around your head that are fairly equal in thickness and density. Pull each twist one-by-one and cut the ends of the twists at the point where your hair drastically tapers off.
How to Prevent Split Ends
For reasons that I stated above, you can’t really prevent split ends, what you can do is slow down the rate at which your hair splits to a point where it doesn’t cause any hair growth and length retention setbacks.
If you have normal to thick hair, deep conditioning on a regular basis, keeping your hair moist, keeping heat and chemical styling to minimum, and wearing protective styles from time to time are all hair care practices you can use to cut down on the incidence of split ends. When you combine these hair care practices in unison, you can drastically cut down on the rate at which your hair splits.
If you have thinner hair, you have a bit more work to do in regards to keeping split ends from stunting your hair growth. For my thin-haired ladies, the key to mitigating split ends is dusting your hair rather than trimming it on a frequent basis. Dusting is simply a hair care practice where you cut only a tiny portion of the ends of your hair (so small it looks like dust). Since thin hair isn’t as dense and strong as thicker hair strands, it naturally splits at a faster rate than any other type of hair. Dusting will help you zero out any damage that your thin hair sustains to the point where it’s as if it’s not even taking place.
I know it sucks to hear that the only way to get rid of split ends is to cut them, but trust me, you’ll be happier if you get rid of them now and take steps to cut down on them in the future than if you do nothing and let your hair continue to split and never reach your healthy, long hair goals.