Split ends of the hair shaft are a result of damage to the cuticle layer. The cuticle layer is the protective layer of the hair. It consists of overlapping cells much like shingles on a house and protects the cortex (the second layer of the hair) and the medulla (the marrow of the hair). Depending on how well the overlapping cells are woven determines your hair porosity (how porous your hair is).
Now that we understand the hair’s structure, let’s take a look at why we get split ends. For the most part, split ends occur in dry and/or brittle hair and occurs when the cuticle layer as been stripped away from the end of the hair. Dry and brittle hair is a direct result of not providing enough moisture and/or protein to hair.
In order to take preventative measures against split ends we first need to do an assessment of the hair’s health. In order to do this assessment test you will need to discontinue hair care products that are silicone based for 8 weeks. Silicone based shampoos and conditioners actually coat the hair shaft and while it may look healthy and shiny it is actually depriving your hair of the necessary moisture and protein it requires. If you can not live without a silicone based hair care product then do a clarifying rinse with diluted vinegar to remove all traces of product buildup in the hair.
Strand Test – with a wet strand of hair stretch the hair strand, if it breaks immediately and has no stretch it has a moisture deficiency. If the hair strands stretches over 30% but does not bounce back to its original state then there is a protein deficiency. There are several products on the market to add protein back into the hair but a homemade remedy I just heard about and am going to try is an infusion of catnip poured directly onto the hair then rinsed out. Other ingredients that will add protein to your hair are egg yolks, coconut milk or oil, soy, and mayonnaise. Mix some of these ingredients up with some olive oil and make a hair mask.
To fix split ends in between trims is a simple matter of cutting them off also known as dusting. This will prevent them from moving further up the hair shaft. You will need a very sharp pair of hair cutting shears. Take a section of hair and gently twist into a loose rope, any hairs that pop out of the rope you can cut off. Albeit you may want to have friends help with this.
While there is no cure for split ends once the cuticle layer has been damaged you can take these preventative steps:
- Get a hair trim every six weeks, I know what a pain; I am guilty of going way to long between trims!
- Always use cloth or rubber coated bands in your hair.
- Invest in a satin pillowcase. Not only is it gentler on the hair it is gentler on the face too.
- Never brush the hair when wet, always use a wide tooth comb or pick.
- Consider a deep conditioning hair mask at least once a month.
- Invest in the right hair care products for your hair texture.
As stated above, you can not really get rid of spilt ends once they have developed however, you can prevent their occurrence with a little preventive maintenance.
You can read more about hair care and get some hair care recipes at Complete Hair Care Therapy