I recently received an email asking me if split ends are able to be mended. The answer to that question is no. I will dissect this question in order to explain how I arrived at that answer.
The hair shaft, sometimes referred to as the strand, is composed of three layers.
Cuticle – the outermost layer that is composed of overlapping scale like cells that protect the inner portion of the hair.
Cortex – the middle layer that is composed of spindle shaped elongated cells that provide strength and elasticity to the hair. This is the portion of the hair shaft that gives hair its color or pigment.
Medulla – the core layer is the marrow of the hair that is composed of round cells. Not all hairs have this layer. The medulla is present in all curly and wavy hair. The tighter the curl, the stronger the medulla. Fine and very fine hair does not always consist of the medulla layer.
How do split ends look?
1 – Beginning of the split
2 – Split continuing up the hair shaft due to the split end not being removed
3 – Multiple Splits on one hair shaft due to the split end getting worse
4 – Split in the middle of the hair shaft. These can be noticed by a slight color difference. It is usually lighter than the rest of the shaft.
5 – This is actually case 4 when both ends of the hair shaft is pushed toward one another revealing a hole or split in the middle of the hair shaft.
What causes split ends?
There are many factors that can lead to split ends.
• Improper maintenance which include constant pulling, tugging, brushing, stressing the hair with chemicals, etc.
• Dryness or lack of moisture
• The environment (weather, pollution, etc.)
• Not protecting the ends of your hair
• Excessive heat from appliances
• Brushing the hair while wet
Split ends or trichoptilosis (splitting of the distal end of the hair) occur when the cuticle layer of your hair is damaged or removed. The cuticle layer consists of keratin or dead protein cells that make the shaft strong. These dead protein cells resemble overlapping scales which helps to hold the hair together. Once this has been damaged or removed, the inside layer of hair fibers are exposed and begin to split into two and sometimes three pieces of hair. Split ends don’t always occur at the tip of your hair shaft.
Once the hair begins to split, it cannot be permanently mended. I know there are products out there that provide temporary fixes, but the only way to get rid of split ends is the TRIM the hair at least ½ an inch above where the split actually ends.
Preventing split ends
Preventing split ends help to keep your hair healthy. Try to avoid chemicals such as relaxers, dyes, etc. If your hair is chemically treated make sure you do not over process the hair as this will lead to split ends and breakage.
Be gentle when brushing or combing. Detangle your hair when wet and use a wide tooth comb or your fingers.
Keep your hair moisturized. After washing your hair, follow up with a leave in conditioner and lock in that moisture by sealing your hair with a butter or oil that is compatible with your hair. Moisturize daily if needed.
Protect your hair from the harsh winter winds and cold temperatures by covering it until your get indoors. At times, there isn’t any moisture in the air so the atmosphere tends to suck all of the moisture from your hair if you don’t protect it. Harsh winds will dry out your hair and ends that can eventually lead to breakage and splits. During the summer months, try using humectants to keep the moisture drawn and locked into your hair. If possible, try wearing protective styles in order to protect your ends from the scorching summer heat.
Minimize the heat from electrical appliances. Try the cool setting on the hair dryer in order to dry the hair. If you must use heat, use the warm temperature setting and try not to blow dry one section of hair for a long period of time. Use short bursts of heat and move around the perimeter of your head constantly. ALWAYS use a thermal heat protectant when using heated electrical appliances.
Deep condition your hair at least once a week. This helps to feed your hair and scalp nutrients that they need in order to stay strong and healthy.
Routine protein treatments have a positive effect on your ends. The treatment helps to keep the hair cuticle in tip top shape. Don’t forget to follow up with a deep conditioning treatment any time you perform a protein treatment.
Trim your ends at least twice a year. This is what works for me. The frequency of trims for your hair can and will differ.
Remember, these are my opinions from my own experiences. Feel free to share any information you might have about split ends.
Until Next Time,