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Split ends, known scientifically as trichoptilosis, occur when the cuticle, the protective layer of the hair, becomes damaged. The most common causes of split ends are excessive drying, over-washing, vigorous brushing, and overuse of chemical hair processes, which all weaken the hair, leaving the cortex in the middle layer unprotected and leading to split ends. The only effective way of fixing split ends is by trimming them, but it is possible to minimize their appearance and keep them from recurring.
Regular haircuts are the best option for fixing split ends, and the only one that will truly eliminate them. Experts recommend getting a haircut every six to eight weeks. Split ends should be trimmed as soon as they appear, otherwise they can travel up the hair shaft and cause more damage. Regular trims may also help hair grow faster because it keeps it in a healthier condition.
For those who need a method of fixing split ends until they have time to get a haircut, a leave-in conditioner or cream designed for dry, damaged hair may help make the split ends less noticeable. The conditioner should be applied on damp, towel-dried hair. For those that use a hairdryer or other heated styling, a leave-in conditioner adds an extra layer of protection against damage.
Preventing the problem in the first place avoids the necessity of fixing split ends. Overuse of heat is one of the main causes of split ends. Hairdryers, curling irons, and flattening irons all damage the hair shaft each time they are used. Allowing hair to air dry as often as possible will help minimize the damage. If a hairdryer must be used, the hot air should be directed in a downward direction and hair should be dried in small sections.
Using the proper grooming tools can make a big difference in preventing split ends. Wet hair is more elastic and prone to stretching and breaking, and using a wide-tooth comb can help minimize the breakage. A brush is best for dry hair, as it is less likely to snag than a comb. Both brushing and combing should be done slowly and gently, in a downward motion from crown to ends.
Certain nutrients can prevent the need for fixing split ends by increasing the overall health of the hair. Protein and fatty acids are both essential building blocks of hair, while vitamin A and C create the hair’s natural conditioners. Biotin helps break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins so the nutrients can be used to strengthen the hair. Eating a balanced diet ensures that the body gets all the nutrients it needs to support strong, healthy hair.