What are split ends and tips on how to prevent split ends on natural hair

We all aspire to have healthy short or long hair that bounces off our crown like the rays of the sun but because of inevitable factors that cause friction between our strands, our hair may break, and split ends may arise. This is very normal, especially for curly and coily hair. Keep reading to get answers to some bothering questions on split ends and tips to get rid of and prevent them for good!

What are split ends on natural hair?

Microscope split ends

From switching up your styles to detangling knots to restless nights, to dry hair and windy days – these conditions create friction between our hair strands and cause them to wear and tear. Over time, the ends of our hair shaft degrade and expose the inner cortex by splitting into two or more branches. It may also appear tapered at the end. The reason why your hair splits at the ends of your hair shaft is that it is the oldest part and therefore stands a lower chance against harsh conditions and wear and tear. Split ends give your hair a frayed, dull, and frizzy look which usually feels dry, coarse, and look thinner than your healthy strands.

Are some people more prone to split ends?

Split ends; Afro kinky hair

All strands of hair, irrespective of your hair type, are the same physically and chemically. But according to a study, Afro textured hair AKA kinky or coily hair has a different structure which makes it more susceptible to split. Because of its tight coils, afro textured hair tangles easily and forms fairy knots. These fairy knots eventually break off when detangling your hair and leave your hair strand jagged at its ends. These jagged ends become split ends. 

Its low water holding capacity (AKA High porosity hair) and inadequate secretion of sebum make it dry and brittle which leads to more wear and tear between its strands.

How to get rid of split ends

How to get rid of split ends type 3 hair

You can decide to conceal the frizzy and dull appearance of split ends with hair masks and products. Hair oils like coconut oil, argan oil, and olive oil are great ingredients to help with that. Aloe vera, banana, and honey are great men for the job as well. But the only permanent way to get rid of split ends is to cut them off. We know it's an internal struggle between keeping your length and healthy hair, but trust us it's better to have healthy lengths of hair than damaged long hair. Here's why.

Why are split ends bad for your hair?

Split ends to that are really high up my hair

Split ends are normal in every hair growth journey (maybe even inevitable). But just because it's part of the hair cycle, doesn't make it good for your hair. The thing is, once your hair splits, it travels up your healthy hair till your entire hair shaft is damaged– that would be a tragedy!

Apart from that, split ends look very unattractive. It is frizzy, rough, dull, dry, and coarse to touch. And it sure is a bother. That is why cutting your split ends off is the best option 

It's one thing to get rid of split ends, it's another thing to form habits to prevent them.

How to prevent split ends on natural hair

Friction, heat, chemical styling, dryness, and environmental conditions are major factors responsible for your ends splitting. They cause our hair to break unnaturally and leave their hair strands with jagged unclean ends that end up splitting. Yes, they are inevitable factors on this list but we can take active steps to ensure they are prevented and occur less frequently. Let's run through the basic hair care routine to see what actions we can correct to prevent split ends.

1. Be gentle when loosening protective hairstyles

Split ends; 2 strand twist Protective hairstyles on 4c hair

Most times we tend to tug and tear apart every knot or tangle we come across when loosening our protective hairstyles. When your hair escapes from a style, it is vulnerable to tangles and mats, since your shed hair has accumulated over time. Gently guide your hair strands lose and go in with a detangling brush to softly loosen the knots. It's best to do this after moisturizing your hairstyle, so friction caused by dryness can be reduced. 

2. Remove rubber bands, hair elastics, and hair accessories gently

Split ends; how to remove rubber band hairstyles

 It's very common to forcefully drag down rubber bands from your hair to remove them, but this pulls on your strands too aggressively to cause hair breakage and jagged ends AKA split ends. Avoid pulling or tugging on your hair with this TikTok hack. Apply your favorite essential oil onto the rubber band to lubricate its path down your hair. You will see how it slides down without any shed or damage. You could also use a T-pin to loosen and cut them off before rolling them off your hair. Be gentle with removing them.

3. Use a wide toothed comb to detangle


Split ends; Wide tooth comb

 In our blog post on detangling matted hair, we emphasized the use of wide toothed combs instead of tiny ones and we're emphasizing it again. Especially for coily hair, small-toothed combs don't give your thick hair space to pass through. Forcefully pulling them through a tiny space can cause them to break and tangle more. Go in with your favorite moisturizer, either oil or leave-in-conditioner, to reduce the friction between your strands before detangling.

4. Use sulfate-free hair products 


Split ends; Shea moisture

Sulfate is added to our hair products, especially shampoos, to create sud. We think the more the sud the more legit the product is but let's break that myth. Sulfate dries out your hair and this is terrible for fine hair like afro-textured hair. That is why most top-ranking curly brands have shampoos that don't sud. They don't contain sulfate and so maintain your natural oils and moisture. You can also replace your shampoo with a co-wash.

5. Use a microfiber towel or cotton T shirt to dry wet hair

Split ends; Microfibre towel for hair

 If you want to reduce breakage and frizz, replace your usual towels with microfiber towels. A cotton T shirt can also do the job.

6 . Feed your hair with moisture

Split ends; 3c hair

Moisture is your crown's best friend and the most direct attack to split ends. Lubricating your strands with your favorite leave-in-conditioner thrice a week and sealing them in with your favorite sealing oil will reduce wear and tear between your strands. Deep conditioning is an excellent addition to your weekly hair routine, especially for afro textured hair type.

7. Avoid heat styling

Iron curling on straight hair

"Your hair can withstand a temperature of about 232°C, but past it causes permanent damage... Excessive heat permanently breaks the chemical bonds called disulfide bonds or bridges and protein cross-links which normally give your hair its strength" as extracted from a study by the University of Melbourne. Ironing wet hair can significantly degrade your cuticles as well.

8. Avoid over-excessive chemical styling

Curlfit temporary hair colors

If you would like to refresh your colored hair, replace your hair dye with non-damaging hair makeup from Curlfit. Adding hair dye on top of already dyed hair can add extra damage to your already restructured strands. To learn more about how hair dye restructures your strands, read here

8. Sleep safely 

Split ends; silk pillowcase for hair pineapple hair

Sleep in clouds of silk. Silk pillowcases, silk scarf, silk bonnet, silk crunchies - silk! This fabric is your best bet to prevent friction when you sleep. No matter how many times you toss around, your hair will glide across the silk material softly. If you have short hair, it is advisable to tie your hair up in a loose pineapple to prevent your strands from intertwining into one another. 

With these tips, you can kiss split ends goodbye! But it is still advisable to trim your strands once every six months.

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