4 Reasons Why We Get Split Ends and What You Can Do About Them
A report by P&G Beauty Innovation shows that when new hair first grows up out of the scalp,the cuticle consists of up to ten layers of longscales; which give the hair its volume and shine.However as the hair grows, the layers get worn down little by little. So if you have long hair the cuticle isalmost worn out at the tips. As the cuticle gets thinner, so the hair becomes weaker eventually splitting at the tip. This is what gives your hair a dry, damaged look, and your hair gets the split ends – not a very healthy sign for the hair.
For most the remedy is to quickly snip it off at the tip, but they seem to reappear within a week. The reason is that random snipping off the split ends leave the hair strands vulnerable to further splitting. So before you start ‘losing your hair’ over your split ends this is what you need to know.
Structure of the strand
The hair structure has three layers – the cuticle, cortex, and medulla.
Medulla is the inner core which contains loosely packed keratin, pigment and fatty acid. Over this is the cortex which is the middle layer and the most important part of hair shaft when it comes to giving hair its texture, colour and strength. It again contains keratin and fatty acids which give the hair shaft elasticity, and tensile strength. Cortex also has the main pigment component that gives colour to your hair. Over the cortex is the cuticle which is the outermost layer that is composed of layers and layers of small dead keratin cells lying overlapped on each other like fish scales. The smoothness and shine of your hair depends on how flat these scales are lying on top of each other.
How split appears
Split ends occur when the hair shaft splits into two or more mostly at the tip. For long hair the strand might even split at the middle length and even at the tip. This makes the hair appear dry, discoloured and definitely damaged. Here are the key reasons why this happens to your hair.
#1:Chemical treatments done to the hair. When you get any kind of chemical-based hair treatment done, your cuticles get lifted and the cortex gets exposed to the chemicals.
The treatments could be your permanent colour, straightening or perming solutions and such. Chemical dyes, bleaching agents, hair relaxants and perming solutions all progressively hurt the natural structure of the strands weakening them.
Repeated exposure starts to weather the strands making the cuticles weak – they become prone to damage and breakage. Split ends are a result if the weakness in the strands. It also signals that hair has lost its tensile strength and become brittle.
#2: Physical damage done through heat and combing.Mosttend to comb their wet hair which should be a strict no-no. When your hair is wet, it naturally stretches up to 30% without damage. But when you comb your wet hair it gets stretched beyond that which weakens the cuticles and the middle cortex. Over combing causes breakage. The repeated friction lifts away the cuticles making them weak. Excessive brushing of dry hair harms the already weak hair tips, fraying them at the end – result split ends.
The other big cause of split ends is heat. Blow dryers, straighteners, curling irons use to manipulate hair ad also speed up hair drying again harm the top layer. These cause excessive dryness to the strands and weaken the cuticles. The thermal styling devices dehydrate the strands and make the cuticles brittle which in turn splits the hair. Continuous exposure can also lead to breakage.
#3: Environmental causes. Just like how UV rays harm our skin, similarly they impact the hair structure. UV rays can reach the cortex and hurt the pigment production capabilities of the shaft, thus lightening your hair. The UTV rays also damages the protein and keratin bonds of your hair impacting the strength, elasticity and shine. The rays weaken the bond which gives your strands a brittle and rough texture prone to breakage and as you guessed it, split ends.
#4: Underlying health problem. Your hair is the first part of your body to show if you are suffering from any kind of internal imbalance, whether it is vitamin deficiency, hormones or any other ailment. Lack of vitamins and essential minerals also lead to brittle hair. Split ends are also a sign that your body might be lacking something.
How to prevent split ends
First of all stop abusing your weak, damaged hair. Stop harsh chemical treatments for a while and do not randomly cut your split ends. You will only aggravate the situation.
Improve your vitamin and essential mineral intake through food and some health supplements. Give your hair extra support through diet consisting of tofu, vegetables, fruits, walnuts,flaxseed and milk.
Next strengthen your roots and moisturise your strands with regular oil massage. Use nourishing oils like almond or sesame to moisturise the scalp and form a protective barrier over the hair shaft.
Use a gentle, creamy shampoo to wash your scalp and hair and then condition the strands with a hair mask rather than a conditioner. It helps seal in the cuticles and reduces the appearance of split ends. Post wash treat your split ends with a hair repairing serum thathave ceramides and keratin to fill the gaps in your hair fiber and seal the cuticles.