The Horror of Split Ends

For most women, split ends are as scary as getting bald. Yet, it’s common for those who always style and treat their hair. What should you do if it happens?

Signs and Causes

In medical terms, split ends are called trichoptilosis or schizotrichia. Split ends make the hair strands or shaft brittle, causing it to split.

Excessive contact to heat, chemicals and stress are the causes of split ends. It could also be a symptom of medical conditions like occipital horn syndrome and Menkes disease. A condition known as trichorrhexis nodosa also cause split ends because the hair shafts are weak. It’s a genetic condition where some hair shafts are thick at some points and thin in others.

The primary causes for split ends all have to do with how you treat your hair. Blow drying, perming, curling, straightening, rebonding, hair coloring and highlights all damage hair. Using heating materials like blow dryers, iron curlers and straighteners too often to style your hair suck out the moisture from the follicles.

Application of chemicals during hair treatments and hair coloring alter the composition in your hair. Disrupting that will naturally cause damage, especially if you apply chemicals frequently within a year.

Stress like too much combing and tight hairstyles don’t do as much damage. These are only harmful if you already have split ends. Shampooing and conditioning your hair regularly do not necessarily damage hair either, especially if you have oily skin and are prone to dandruff.

Treatment and Prevention

Trim and Treat: You cannot treat split ends. There are products in the market claiming they could repair split ends but there is no proof that they work. They will only make your hair look undamaged but the effect is only on the surface and does not solve the problem at all. The best way to get rid of split ends is to trim the affected parts. Experts recommend getting a trim every six to eight weeks to prevent them from coming back. The so-called split ends treatment products will work only as a protection from further damage. Get a trim first then start using healing products.

Shampoo and Conditioner: When you shampoo, massage your scalp, not rub strands together. The amount of shampoo and conditioner should not exceed the small area of a cupped palm. Squeeze an amount not more than the size of a coin. Rinse with cold or lukewarm water, not hot. Dry using a towel, but don’t rub the strands together. Let your hair air dry before combing.

No Chemicals and Stress: Avoid contact with heat. You will have to stop using your blow dryer for a while until the split ends are gone. You should also space your hair treatments every several months, but it’s better not to have any until your hair is healthy again. Ideally, you can only have three hair treatments per year. Avoid applying too many chemicals on your hair while its heals because that will only worsen the damage. Let your hair rest to heal.