Split ends occur when the protective cuticle layer of the hair shaft is damaged, thereby causing the middle layer, or cortex, to become dry and split. In general, the most effective of all split ends treatments is cutting them off. There are products on the market, however, whose manufacturers claim can repair split ends, including shampoos, conditioners, leave-in treatments, and serums. While these split ends treatments may succeed at preventing further damage, most hair care professionals agree that such products do not actually repair damaged hair and recommend taking steps to prevent split ends in the first place rather than trying to repair the damage afterward.
Essentially, there are three main causes of split ends. First, hair can be damaged from exposure to excessive heat, such as through blow drying or using a flat iron or curling iron. Additionally, harsh styling habits, including combing and brushing too vigorously, can harm the cuticle and result in split ends. The third potential source of damage is the use of chemical treatments, such as hair color and permanent curling treatments. Something as simple as using the wrong type of shampoo can also dry out hair and lead to split ends.
A variety of products called split ends treatments exist on the market. Some of the most common include shampoos, conditioners, daily leave-in treatments, overnight treatments, and serums. Many of them claim to repair hair and strengthen it in order to prevent future split ends. Most hair care experts argue, however, that a product cannot repair damaged hair — it might prevent future harm, but when it is applied to an already damaged cuticle, all it does is smooth it down to make it appear healthy.
Of all split ends treatments, most professionals agree that regular haircuts are the most effective, as trimming split ends as early as possible can help protect the hair and prevent further damage. Avoiding the common causes of split ends is another way to protect one's hair. For instance, care should be exercised when brushing and combing the hair to prevent unnecessary tugging. When using heat styling tools such as straightening irons, it is generally recommended that people opt for ceramic rather than metal tools when possible. Protecting hair from sun and wind damage by wearing a hat is another common suggestion, and some people advise keeping one's hair short in the winter so it is not damaged by rubbing against clothing.