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What are Split Ends?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 17, 2024
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Split ends, or as the hair experts call it, trichoptilosis, is a common problem for many people. It occurs when the protective cuticle is destroyed at the end of the hair. The hair will then split into two or more strands. Some people claim that the split can be repaired, but the experts know that this is a myth. Once the damage has occurred, the best way to deal with it is by using a pair of scissors.

Split ends may occur for a variety of reasons. Although the hair care industry is a huge market, many of the trends and processes involved contribute to this problem. If you dye your hair often, you may find that you have a problem with splitting. Hair dryers with a high heat setting or hair straighteners can also cause this type of damage.

Similarly, overexposure to the sun’s heat can cause the hair to split. Excessive washing with follicle stripping shampoos will not do the hair shaft any good either. The problem may be as simple as using the wrong type of comb or brush for your hair type, or your hair may simply be in need of a good trim.

Hair specialists can employ a number of different methods to combat split ends. One of the simplest ways is to have your hair trimmed at regular intervals. If your hair is long, this is particularly important. Split ends sometimes occur because the protective hair oils do not reach the end of the hair shaft, causing it to split. Having a regular trim will cut out the split ends and keep your hair manageable.

Hair salons provide the best types of shampoo and conditioner for your hair. The ingredients in professional shampoos are much kinder to hair than those in cheaper shampoos. Cheaper shampoos contain a lot of silicon designed to make the hair shiny, but it also strips the hair of essential oils and nutrients.

Likewise, the number of times a week you shampoo may be contributing to your split ends. There is much debate over how many times a week hair should be washed. Most experts claim that daily washing will strip the hair of its oils. If you need to shampoo every day, make sure that you use a professional, gentle cleanser.

If you use a gym regularly or swim in chlorinated water, make sure to wash your hair after each session. Salt from the workout sweat and chlorine are very damaging to the hair. The conditioner you use is also important in preventing split ends. Deep conditioners are advised, and treatments such as tea tree oil will help minimize damage to the hair.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon99303 — On Jul 26, 2010

As a teenager I had three hair problems: split ends, dandruff and greasy hair. I tried just about every shampoo to get rid of the dandruff! Selsun blue 5 and Head and Shoulders shampoo only made things worse. T-gel has successfully controlled and virtually eliminated the dandruff and keeps it from getting too greasy.

I now only need to wash my hair twice a week (good thing considering my hair is almost down to my butt). I haven't found anything to get rid of split ends. A leave in conditioner helps and I've noticed I lose a lot less hair too. To prevent clogs in the shower I brush my hair before washing - it also makes it much easier to comb my fingers through while conditioning.

By LivHappyr — On Jun 14, 2010

I have such a problems with split ends and I follow all of my doctor’s orders. Because I have dandruff too, he suggests using Selsum Blue for very dry scalp and ends. I'm to wash every other day and use a leave in conditioner.

In the article, it warns against using a hair dryer too and swimming too often; I do neither of those things. I'm tired of my head being itchy and having my below shoulder length hair in a ponytail daily. I lose so much hair we need a drain cover to prevent clogs in the shower. I miss my beautiful hair I had years ago. Does anyone have any advice or product they find useful? Thanks.

By pocurana — On Nov 06, 2009

I used to get split ends a lot when I was a teenager.... I don't anymore. But I remember finding multiple split ends. I'm sure I counted over 10 splits! So strange!

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