How to Get Rid of Split Ends

Hair with split ends
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Split ends are one of the most common hair issues, and they can be very frustrating for some people. They occur when the protective outer layer of the hair gets damaged, causing the end of the hair shaft to split into two or more parts. If split ends are not trimmed promptly, they can cause the hair to split further up the hair shaft.
Split ends can occur in people of all ages, genders, hair types, and lengths. They can make hair look frizzy, frayed, dull, lifeless, and make it hard to manage. Split ends make it difficult to grow long hair that looks healthy. There is a scientific name for it: trichoptilosis.
What Causes Split Ends and How to Prevent Them
While split ends can be taken care of to improve the appearance of your hair, it is essential to understand the root causes of split ends to prevent them. Split ends can be caused by many different factors.
1. Heat Styling
Likely the most common cause of split ends is over-styling the hair: the excessive use of heat styling tools like flat irons, curling irons, and hair dryers. These tools generate high temperatures to style the hair and, if used excessively or improperly, can cause significant damage by stripping the hair of its natural oils and moisture. The heat can also weaken the hair fibers, making them more prone to splitting.
To prevent this, try to limit the use of flat irons, curling irons, and blow dryers. When you absolutely need to use them, do so on a low heat setting and always use a heat protectant spray.

2. Environment
Environmental factors are other important causes of split ends, and there are more threats to the health of your hair than you might expect.
Exposure to the sun, wind, and cold weather can cause split ends. The sun’s UV rays can cause damage to the hair, while the wind and cold weather can dry it out. It is important to protect your hair from the sun by wearing a hat or scarf or using a UV-protective spray. Wear a scarf and/or tuck the ends of your hair into the collar of your coat, jacket, or sweater to protect it from the wind. Keep your hair moisturized during the cold winter months by using a deep conditioner or a hair mask.
Chlorine and saltwater can also strip hair of its natural oils, making it more likely to have split ends. Wear a protective product on your hair when swimming and wash your hair thoroughly after exposure to saltwater and chlorinated water.
3. Chemical Treatments
Using too many chemical treatments such as coloring, bleaching, perming, and straightening can cause split ends. These treatments use chemicals that can damage the hair’s outer layer and weaken its structure. Chemical treatments can also strip the hair of its natural oils and moisture, making it more prone to splitting.
Try to stay away from chemical treatments as much as you can and/or have a hairdresser do it. If you have to use chemical treatments at home, it is important to use high-quality products, follow the directions precisely and refrain from over-treating your hair.
Hair with a split end under a microscope
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4. Overwashing
Overwashing your hair can cause split ends. Washing your hair too often and using harsh shampoos can strip it of its natural oils, leaving it dry and more likely to split. It is important to find the right balance between washing your hair frequently enough to keep it clean and healthy, but not so frequently that you strip it of its natural oils.
Additionally, when hair is wet, it is more prone to damage. Brushing your hair when it is wet or using a rough towel can cause split ends. It is important to use a soft towel and avoid vigorously rubbing the hair, as this friction can lead to split ends. It is better to gently blot your hair with a towel.
5. Brushing and Combing
Brushing and combing can cause split ends if you don't do it correctly and be gentle with your hair. Brushing or combing too harshly can damage the hair fibers and cause the ends of your hair to split. It is important to use a brush with soft bristles or a wide-tooth comb. You should try to avoid brushing or combing your hair when it is wet as much as possible.
Additionally, sleeping on rough pillowcases can be a cause of split ends. It is better to sleep on smooth silk or satin pillowcases.
Damaged hair with split ends
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6. Nutritional Deficiencies
Nutritional deficiencies can also make hair more prone to having split ends. Hair needs a variety of nutrients in order to grow and remain healthy. It needs the right vitamins, minerals, and proteins and it is important to eat balanced.
Talk to your doctor if you think your split ends are caused by a lack of nutrition or a medical issue. Health problems can have an impact on your hair's health and make it more prone to split ends.
7. Genetics & Hormonal Imbalances
Genetic predisposition can play a role in the occurrence of split ends. Some people may have naturally weak hair strands or be more prone to split ends due to the natural dryness, thickness, and texture of the hair.
Changes in hormone levels during menopause, pregnancy, and other hormonal imbalances can cause hair to become weaker and more prone to splitting.
8. Hair Length
When a hair strand first comes out of the scalp, it is young and healthy. However, as the hair gets longer, it is exposed to many damaging factors, such as the ones we already discussed. As the hair grows longer, it is exposed to potential damage, which will result in older, weaker hair at the ends of the shaft. This can make long hair more prone to splitting. For example, the end of a 12-inch (30 centimeters) long hair is two years old and has undergone two years of potential damage.
However, people who keep their hair short, for instance women wearing it in a pixie cut or short bob, often do not have to deal with split ends. Shorter hairstyles need to be trimmed regularly to keep their shape and appeal. This means that split ends are less likely to occur as potentially damaged hair ends are cut off spontaneously. This explains why short hair often looks much healthier. The end of, for instance, a one inch (2.5 centimeters) long hair is only two months old.
A woman's long to very short hair makeover
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If you're fed up with constantly trying to prevent split ends, you might want to think about getting a shorter hairstyle. When your hair is short and you plan to keep it short and regularly trimmed, you can also experiment with different styles and hair colors, without worrying too much about damaging styling tools and chemical treatments. Cutting off your long hair may be a drastic measure, but it's an option if you are fed up with the constant struggle against split ends. The shorter you cut your hair, the less likely you will have to deal with split ends.
How to Remove Split Ends
Split ends can lead to bigger hair problems if not taken care of. Removing them is relatively easy, and there are multiple methods you can use to get rid of split ends.
1. Have your hair cut by a hairdresser
The best way to get rid of split ends is to get a professional haircut. This may seem like an obvious solution, but many people are hesitant to get a haircut because they want to keep their hair long. However, when you have split ends, trimming your hair is the best way to get rid of them and secure the future length of your hair.
The amount of hair that your hairdresser will have to cut to get rid of split ends will depend on the state of your hair ends. He or she will evaluate your hair and figure out how much hair needs to be cut off to get rid of the split ends.

If you only have a few minor split ends, your hairdresser may only need to cut off a small amount of hair, usually no more than a quarter of an inch (6 millimeters). This is a small cut that can be done quickly and easily without drastically changing the overall length of your hair.
When your split ends are worse than normal, your hairstylist may need to cut off more length to get rid of the damaged parts. In this case, he or she may need to cut off anywhere from half an inch (about 1 centimeter) to several inches or centimeters of hair. This can have a slight effect on your overall appearance.
If your hair is in really bad condition, such as split ends going up the hair shaft, your hairdresser may suggest a drastic haircut. Then, you might leave the salon with a new look. This may be a tough choice to make, but it is important to remember that cutting off the damaged ends is necessary to stop further damage and give the hair a healthy appearance.
It is important to always communicate clearly and confidently with your hairdresser. If you're worried about losing a lot of hair length, don't just ask to cut off "all split ends". Ask in advance how much will be cut. That way, you won't be taken aback when your hair is cut much shorter than you expected. Are you an adventurous person? Then just ask your stylist to cut your hair as short as needed to get the ends back to being healthy.
2. Cut it at Home
If you don't want to go to a hair salon or don't have the money for a professional haircut, you can use haircutting scissors to cut your split ends at home. Make sure to only use real hairdressing scissors. They are specially designed for cutting hair. Using other scissors, such as kitchen scissors, can make the ends of your hair look even worse and less healthy than before.
You can attempt to trim the split ends of your hair yourself or get assistance from someone else, such as a friend, a relative or your partner. However, cutting your own hair or letting someone who is not a professional do it may seem cost-effective, but it comes with risks, even if you are only trying to get rid of split ends.
Woman cutting her own split ends and a man cutting his wife's hair
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You could end up with a lopsided or uneven haircut. Even when you're just snipping the ends, it's easy to unintentionally cut one side shorter than the other, or to cut at an angle that leads to uneven hair lengths. This can be an issue if you have long, straight hair, as any unevenness will be easily seen.
Besides having uneven lengths, cutting your own hair or having someone who isn't a professional do it can also lead to a jagged haircut. This is because most people do not have the training or experience to cut even, smooth lines. As a result, they may make multiple cuts in the same area, leading to a jagged, uneven haircut.
If you do end up with a lopsided, uneven, or jagged haircut, you may find that you have to start all over again in order to fix it and that you have to cut off even more length. You can easily find yourself in a vicious cycle, where your hair has to be cut shorter and shorter. This can be frightening and aggravating, especially if you didn't want to lose much hair length.
If you try to cut your own hair or let someone who isn't a professional do it, it can turn out so badly that you'll need a hairdresser to fix it. This can be especially true if you have tried cutting your hair multiple times and ended up with different lengths and textures. In these cases, the hairdresser may need to cut off a significant amount of hair in order to create a cohesive, even hairstyle.
So be aware of the risks when you opt not to get your split ends trimmed by a hairdresser. If you're worried about losing length, it's best to only let a stylist cut your hair. However, do you find your hair length less important and would you find it funny if it went wrong and you ended up with a short haircut? Then feel free to take the chance!
3. Split-Ender
The Split-Ender is a hair cutting tool, for both home and salon use, that is designed to remove split ends without noticeably losing hair length. The device is incredibly accurate, allowing for a targeted approach to cutting off split ends. This makes it a good choice for those who want to keep their long hair but still need to cut off damaged ends. Click here to learn more about it.
Young woman using a product in an attempt to repair split ends
Photo: Nowra Photography/Canva
4. Use a Split Ends Repair Product
Most split end repair products work by using silicone or similar ingredients to coat the hair shaft and seal the split ends. They work by filling in the gaps and cracks in the damaged hair, and this can make it look smoother.
Split end repair products can help to enhance the look and feel of the hair and make it appear and feel healthier. However, they cannot actually fix the damage to the hair, and the split ends will eventually come back. You should remember that these products only give temporary results and eventually you will need to get the damaged ends cut.
There are a number of home remedies that claim to prevent and/or heal split ends. However, we won't go into that now.
Final Advice
As with all things, prevention is better than cure and this is also true for split ends. It is nearly impossible to avoid split ends, but we can take many steps to reduce the amount of them.
To avoid split ends from causing more damage by splitting further up the hair shaft, it is important to get rid of them quickly. Ideally, you should get your hair trimmed every six to eight weeks to remove any split ends.
By Chris | Updated | ©

See also:
Damaged hair and how to recognize it
How to repair hair with split ends