They are quite a menace in every woman’s life. They are the secret key to ruin your hairstyles, streaks and highlights without much effort at all. YES! We are talking about “Split Ends”! There is no other enemy of hair as fierce and unyielding as the much-dreaded split end. Dry, dull, frizzy and wispy ends can make our hair look damaged.
When the protective outer layer of the hair cuticle wears away because of external stressors, Split ends occur. These splits can be generic at the end of the hair, split occurring at the middle of the hair strand which appears as a loop, and repetitive splits occurring on the same strand. Once the internal structure of the hair is exposed, it results in structural changes to the hair shaft over a period of time and constitutes hair weathering. Weathered hair loses moisture more rapidly than normal hair, and hence, looks dull and dry and becomes weak causing split ends.
Weathering is not commonly seen in men as their hair is constantly cut, which helps the damage (if any) to be trimmed off.
What are the main causes of split ends?
- Over exposure of hair to the sun, pollution, dust and excessive chemicals while styling.
- Using scalding hot water while washing your hair.
- Using harsh shampoos or too much serum and styling gels too frequently.
- Using hard water to wash your hair (water that contains too much chlorine will cause color to wash out and also cause the ends to split).
- Lack of regular trimming and conditioning schedules.
- Over use of heat, hair dryers, hair straightners or curlers can cause irreparable damage to your hair follicles.
- Using the wrong kind of hair brush and comb can also accumulate damage to hair ends.
- Teasing or back combing your hair regularly.
- Using holding sprays or mousse on your hair and not washing them off.
While the only way to rid yourself of rough ends is to have them snipped off, here are some tips for repairing and preventing split ends.
1. Apply shampoo carefully, too much shampoo can strip away healthy oils, leaving your hair vulnerable to damage. Avoid shampoos with sulfate or paraben.
2. Wash with gentle water. Rinse your hair with the coolest water you can stand. Minerals or chlorine in your water can damage your hair. Consider a water softening system if your local water is “hard” .
3. Use conditioner. After shampooing, apply conditioner along the length of your hair, leave-in conditioner will add extra protection that stays on
4. Dry hair gently. Vigorously rubbing your hair dry with a towel is not a good idea. Instead, gently squeeze dripping wet hair with a towel
5. Find a gentle comb or brush. Slowly run a wide-tooth comb through hair to aid you in untangling your hair, not pulling it out. This prevents the snaps and breakage you can incur when you try to brush out hair
6. Protect your hair from the sun. Ultraviolet rays can be as damaging to your hair as your skin. Wear your hair in a bun underneath a hat, or use an umbrella or leave-in sunscreen conditioner
7. Protect your hair while sleeping. Sleep with your hair tied in a braid or bun to help prevent tangles and breakage.
8. Oiling the hair. It can lubricate the hair shaft, preventing it from splitting. Apply oil to the middle and ends of your hair.
Limit damaging services
1. If you need to speed up the drying, use a blow dryer on a medium or low setting. Hold it a few inches away from your hair and dry hair in a downward direction to minimize damage.
2. Lay off the heat styling tools. Heat treatments denature the keratins (proteins) of the hair shaft weakening it and making it prone to split ends. This includes hot blow drying, heat styling, straightening and curling through heat, and steam treatments. So try to limit these services
3. Treatments like hair color, highlights are particularly damaging. Try to use them only when necessary.
Eat a balanced diet.
1. Nutrients literally build the proteins that make your hair strands, so eat the recommended amounts of vitamins and protein to ensure that your body produces the healthiest hair possible.
2. Healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids can also help keep your hair whole and shiny.
3. Folic acid and Biotin — have been shown to supplement hair health, length and thickness. Foods rich in folic acid include green leafy veggies, oranges, soybeans and wheat. Whereas lentils, peas, sunflower seeds, walnuts are all rich in biotin.
So if you notice that you are gradually getting more & more split ends, ignoring the issue is by far the worst action you can take. While some hair problems can resolve themselves, some will simply get worse as time goes on. If you think you are treating your hair right and inspite of that you have split ends issue, consult a doctor who can find the root cause of the issue and help you resolve the problem.