When it comes to our hair, we ladies sure have a long list of concerns to be worried about! From hair fall and dandruff to dull hair, the list of our hair issues is simply never-ending. One such cause of our worry is the split ends we notice at the tips of our locks. Just as the name suggests, split ends are when your tresses break apart starting from the ends of your hair shaft. There are many reasons for this hair condition; so, if not treated in time, it can get worse and be a major reason for your constant anxiety and bad hair days!
Now, since we can’t let that happen, we took matters into our own hands. With the help of a renowned dermatologist and hair expert, Dr. Divya Sharma, we have mapped out everything you need to know about split ends and how to take care of them. So, without further ado, read up.
- What are split ends and why do they happen?
- What are the external factors that lead to split ends?
- What nutritions do you need to keep up with?
- How can you prevent split ends?
- How to treat split ends?
- FAQs about split ends
What are split ends and why do they happen?
When the tips of your hair split into many strands, like an unraveled rope, that’s when you know you have split ends. These are the broken and misaligned fibres visible at the ends of your hair lengths and you can simply feel them by running your fingers through your hair.
As Dr. Divya Sharma explains, “In a split end, microscopically, the cuticle gets removed and the cortical cells split into smaller fragments that travel up the hair lengths. This even causes your hair to appear browner from mid-length to tip. This color change is mainly due to diffused light scattering from the damaged tips.”
Coming to the big question - why do split ends even happen? Well, there are many reasons for this too. From bad hair grooming habits, constant exposure to harsh chemical treatments and hot styling tools, to over-exposure in the sun - there are many reasons. All of these reasons cause your hair to become dry, brittle, and add that frayed look to it, which makes it appear shabby and unkempt.
What are the external factors that lead to split ends?
Now, let’s discuss the nitty gritties - what actually causes your hair to split up? Externally speaking - excessive heat, chemicals and physical damages can lead to split ends in your hair. Let’s understand them in depth.
When you blow-dry your hair, straighten it, curl it or basically use any of your hot styling tools constantly, you run a great risk of causing split ends, as these tools take away all the natural moisture from your hair. So, while they might make your hair appear put together for some time, they sure leave a major damaging effect on it in the long run.
According to Dr. Sharma, “Chemical treatments remove the protective hydrophilic lipid layer and hence make it more susceptible to hair damage like split ends.” So, while we love hair rebonding, keratin treatments and adding colour to our hair, we are simply subjecting it to more and more irreparable damage.
When we harshly comb our wet hair or towel dry it roughly or even when we forget to simply detangle it, we are actually causing split ends to appear in our tresses. As Dr. Sharma explains, “The tangles are usually formed near the tips and hence can cause split ends. Also, increased frictional forces increase damage by abrading the cuticle structure. They may also cause fractures and damage the hair shaft.”
What nutritions do you need to keep up with?
While environmental and external factors are one major cause of split ends, lack or deficiency of certain minerals and nutrients can also lead to this hair issue. Understand it this way, your hair reflects your inner health and if there is a nutritional deficiency of some necessary minerals in your body, then your hair is going to get damaged.
Dr. Sharma helped us list out a few essential minerals that you must include in your diet to keep your split ends at bay.
Commonly known as the building blocks of your body, proteins are extremely essential for healthy hair too. A diet deficient in protein can cause brittle hair and split ends. So, try including protein-rich foods like meat, fish, milk, cheese, nuts and legumes in your diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids:
They form the outer layer of the cuticle and since it is the area where split ends damage your hair, including omega-3 fatty acids in your diet becomes important. Make fish, seafood, nuts, seeds and plant oils a part of your diet and you can prevent weathering of the cuticle and split ends.
Zinc and biotin:
These nutrients help in keeping your mane healthy and shiny. Foods like red meat, salmon, pork, mushrooms, baked beans, chickpeas, nuts, avocados, bananas, raspberries are excellent to ensure the much-needed dose of zinc and biotin in your body.
Iron deficiency can cause anaemia, which in turn can cause more frizziness, tangling and split ends formation in your hair. Eat foods like red meat, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, peas, raisins and apricots.
How can you prevent split ends?
Now that we have established the problem and its causes, it’s time to think of ways in which you can prevent split ends in your hair. Dr. Sharma suggested the following ways in which you can fend off split ends, so take notes.
Pick a good conditioner:
Split ends lead to hair knots and these tangles lead to split ends - it’s a never-ending cycle, so invest in a good hair conditioner to prevent tangling in the first place.
Avoid combing wet hair:
When your hair is damp, it is prone to more breakage and this can cause split ends. So, never comb your damp hair or even towel dry it vigorously. Be gentle and use a microfiber towel while you are at it.
Minimise your exposure to chemical treatments:
You should avoid or lessen the use of hot styling tools like straighteners, or blow dryers and chemical treatments like bleaching and colouring your hair as much as possible. Make it an occasional practice and make sure while blow drying, you maintain a minimum distance of 45 cm between hair and tool and use heat protectant gels or sprays prior to it.
How to treat split ends?
So, now let’s focus on how we can treat split ends, so it doesn’t aggravate and hamper our hair health further.
You can opt for a Low-Level Laser therapy, which can improve blood circulation and work towards smoothing out the frayed ends. There are also dermatologist-led treatments like Platelet Rich Plasma therapy and Platelet Rich Fibrin therapy that help improve the texture of the hair.
Switch to alcohol-free shampoos:
The alcohol content in your shampoos can dry your hair out of its natural oils and further worsen your split ends, so go for alcohol-free shampoos to avoid this condition.
Trim it up:
The easiest way to treat and get rid of split ends is by trimming them off. But, you must make sure to take care of your locks after getting them cut, in order to prevent this ordeal from occurring all over again.
We love DIYs and simple hair masks can help treat your split ends at home. Go for an egg mask by simply mixing one egg yolk with one tablespoon of honey and three tablespoons of olive oil. Leave it on for 30 minutes, before gently rinsing it with lukewarm water.
You can also try a papaya hair mask by blending two slices of papaya with two tablespoons of yogurt together. Leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it with a mild shampoo.
You must understand that these masks don’t repair the split ends, but moisturise your hair and prevent further splits.
FAQs about split ends
Q. Do split ends stop hair growth?
A. Contrary to popular belief, split ends don’t stop hair growth as your hair grows from the roots, not the tips of your hair - which is usually where split ends happen. However, split ends do cause your hair to break off, which may seem to slow the process of hair growth as they break and split much faster than your scalp can produce new hair.
Q. Do split ends run all the way up the hair shaft?
A. Yes, if left untouched, your split ends can continue to split all the way up the hair shaft. This, in turn, damages your entire hair strand, leaving it damaged and in need of a trim.