Before we give you some facts about this hairdo-ruining-menace, what are "split ends" exactly? Do they refer to strands of hair splitting down in two at the tip? Yes. It's actually a medical condition called Trichoptilosis, which happens when hair weakens and the ends split. You can blame heat styling and chemical treatments for causing brittle follicles. But they can also mean other things. As shown in the illustration below, split ends are basically strands of hair that have gone haywire at the tips. Any of them familiar to you?
As any girl who’s prolonged a hair trim for so long knows, split ends are definitely not pretty. As opposed to hairdos, they’re hair-don’ts. So here are a couple of things you should know on what causes split ends, how to prevent them and what not to do when you spot any on your strands:
2. Be careful how you wash your hair.
Since the ends are weak, concentrate your shampoo on your roots and scalp to prevent the tips from drying, and then saturate your tips with conditioner to help them recover. Use an old t-shirt or microfiber towel to avoid snagging fragile ends.
Tip: Use conditioner. This might counter the whole "don’t brush your hair when it’s wet" statement but another rule is to try not to detangle your hair without any sort of lubricant. Detangling hair isn’t just painful, it can also cause some serious damage to your hair including split ends. Apply conditioner in the shower and run your trusty wide-toothed comb through your hair to make the whole ordeal a lot easier.
3. Never self-snip.
You need sharp shears to cut the ends, so always entrust your hair to a reputable salon. If you self-snip, you might use a pair of blunt scissors and make the issue worse: You'll end up with an exposed tip that is more susceptible to feathering. Remember, when the going gets tough – and the split ends are out of hand, the tough get going… to their favorite salon and hairstylist for a quick trim.
4. Always deep-condition.
Revive parched tresses by saturating your hair with a weekly deep-conditioning treatment or hair mask. You don’t need expensive and costly hair masks either. A tub of coconut oil will do wonders. Work a good scoop of coconut oil into recently washed and dry hair and leave on for 30 minutes inside a towel or plastic wrap. Rinse off afterwards. Repeat once every two weeks as advised by stylist Jesse Montana from Mèche Salon in Beverly Hills, US.
5. Stay away from hot tools.
Sorry, but you need to give your blowdryer, curling iron, and flat iron a rest. While each strand of hair has a protective outer layer, acting as a sort of armor for the more delicate inner structures of the hair, too much heat styling and a barrage of salon chemicals can wear down the protective outer layer faster than it should, leaving the inner structures exposed. When your hair is dying (literally and figuratively) of repair, resort to heat-free hairstyles to stop the heat from further damaging your fried locks.
If you must use hot tools, protect your hair with leave-on. Remember, dry and brittle hair will break down much faster than healthy luscious strands.
6. Feed it nutrients.
Vitamin B, specifically two types of it: folic acid and biotin, have been found to promote shinier and thicker hair. Folic acid and biotin are found in whole grains, leafy vegetables and soybeans.
7. Maintenance is key to prevent split ends.
Split ends will continue to split; the damage will run further down the hair strand if left on its own. If you’re noticing an abundance of split ends on your precious locks, don’t ignore them. It will only get worse. The only surefire way to make them disappear in an instant is by having a regular health cut and by avoiding the main culprits. This means that if you want to have a good hair day, you must be a good girl. Go easy on heat-styling and always use conditioner!
P.S. Want to have great hair all day every day? Check out the best of the best products, tools, and services for your hair at the first-ever Female Network Hair Awards here!
PHOTO: Flickr Creative Commons/Gareth Wall IMAGE: Mixi Ignacio