Curl friends, all too often in our hair journey we sacrifice length over the health of our hair. A major culprit that will set you back is the dreaded split ends. It is a challenge to grow hair healthy or long when your ends are frazzled and jagged. Once your ends split it keeps going, and the only true way to rid you of fried, rough ends is to cut them off.
Split ends typically form when the protective outer layer of the hair cuticle wears away primarily due to various factors such as over-manipulation, harsh drying product ingredients, and excessive or incorrect heat styling. Once the internal structure of the hair is exposed, it gets weak, dehydrated and damaged, causing split ends.
Naturally as our hair grows it will get thinner and taper at the ends; however, hair that is healthy should have the same thickness and fullness from the root of the hair towards the ends with a slight taper towards the end.
To combat excessive split ends, creating good haircare habits can help minimize or slow the damage from traveling up the hair shaft. Here are a few solid best practices to help prevent split ends:
- Add regular hair trimming appointments in your hair regimen.
Regardless of hair type, experts encourage a trim every six to eight weeks. I recommend finding a time frame that works best for you to trim. I like to trim my ends quarterly when each season changes. If possible leave it to the professionals; however should you cut your own hair invest in salon shears as they are sharper. Duller blades can fray the hair and cause more split ends. The longer you wait in between trims the greater your risk of damage traveling up the shaft.
- Be gentle with heat styling.
It is highly recommended to use a heat protectant product when using any heat-styling tools such as curling irons and blow dryers. Based on research from Modern Salon many stylist suggest heat tools provide more balanced or controlled heat such as:
- ceramic — It creates a far infrared heat that penetrates the hair shaft, preserving hair’s natural moisture and luster.
- tourmaline — The tourmaline technology maximizes the negative ion output and closes the cuticle layer, creating smooth hair, plus can dry up to 40 percent quicker.
- ionic — Ionic technology reduces the hair’s surface tension, leaving locks shiny and frizz-free. Avoid using high/hot temperatures on your hair, as you can cause heat damage, which again is irreversible.
- Limit or avoid brushing your hair, especially when wet.
Using a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair is second-best to using your very own fingers. Yes, fingers!! It has been found by many naturals that taking your time to gently shingle through your tresses saves on pulling hair out, and loosening knots is much easier on your ends. When your hair is wet, it’s the most susceptible to breakage, so brushing can be a bit too harsh.
- Deep condition to increase moisture.
A hair mask and deep treatment conditioner once every one or two weeks can help keep your hair healthy, moisturized, and damage-free. When applying mask, try to avoid scalp. If you have a hair steamer, sit with conditioner in your hair for 30 minutes.
If you don’t have a hair steamer, use a hooded dryer with a plastic cap or a plastic cap only or a plastic cap with warm wet towel wrapped around your head. This process is a great way to lock in moisture and improve your hair’s strength, softness, and overall shine.
Spilt ends are unavoidable but certainly can be manageable. Having intentional haircare steps to prevent raggedy ends will produce healthy hair outcomes. Remember, not cutting your ends can make your styles look less beautiful and stunt your hair growth and health.
So cut it and it will grow!!
Keep in mind that being pro-natural does not mean you are anti-relaxer. I like mine Fro Real No Lye!
Natural hair coach and enthusiast Kelley Eubanks welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.