Split ends

Split ends can be really annoying. They sap all the shine out of your tresses, making your hair look dull, lifeless and frizzy. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent split ends or revert the damage they do to your hair. But you can certainly prevent further damage by taking proper care of your hair. A regular care routine will also improve scalp health, leading to longer and healthier hair.
Before getting into all the ways you can prevent and reduce split ends, it is only obvious that you get to know some basic facts about split ends, what are they and how are they caused. This will help you be better equipped for tackling this common hair problem and finding unique solutions as per your hair type and extent of the damage.

  1. Types of split ends
  2. What causes split ends
  3. Hair care for split ends
  4. Wash your hair properly
  5. Don't forget to condition your hair
  6. Provide external nourishment
  7. Split end treatment
  8. Keratin treatment for split ends

Types of split ends

Most people just know a split end as a broken or damaged piece of hair but split ends could be more than one type. Different type of split ends occurs due to different reasons and situations.
It is important to know about the split ends type and their causes to find the best possible remedy for them. So, let us look upon these split end types one by one.

  • Double split ends: This is the most common type of split end, in which, hair end divides into two parts. It mainly occurs because of damage to the hair cuticle (outermost layer of hair) and the main reason for the development of double split ends is friction, which can be because of many reasons like:
    • Rubbing hair on the pillow while sleeping
    • Friction due to heat styling products
    • Drying hair with a rough towel after washing
  • Partial split ends: Partial split ends occur due to a minor splitting of hair at the ends. If not taken care of, they ultimately lead to double split ends and further hair damage. It is, hence, important to take these split ends as a hint and start taking the required steps to stop these from progressing.
    The primary cause of partial split end is heat styling. Using those hot straighteners and curlers can give you well managed and styled hair temporarily, but in the long term, they damage the hair cuticle. So, it is better to avoid excessive or regular use of hair styling equipment to save hair from permanent damage.
  • The Tree split end: As the name suggests, hair, in this case, get divided into many branches (about 4 to 6), appearing like a tree. It is one of the worst kinds of split ends, indicating severe damage to the hair cuticle and the only way to get rid of this condition is to get a haircut. However, this is a rare kind of split end and even if you have severely dry hair you might not find more than a few of these split ends.
  • The fork split end: When a hair end divides into three, it makes a fork split end. It can be called an advanced stage of the double split end. The main reason for this type of split end is dehydration of hair and it most commonly occurs in frizzy and dry hair types. So, if you have this type of split ends, you need to work on providing some hydration to your hair.
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What causes split ends

No matter how often you trim your hair, it is impossible to avoid split ends completely. However, by taking proper care of your hair and avoiding certain factors that damage the cuticle, you can reduce the risk of hair damage to a great extent. But what are those factors? Read on to find out.

  • Chemical damage: Our hair gets regularly exposed to damaging chemicals in the form of shampoos, hair dyes, colours and other hair styling products. If you are someone who likes to apply hair gels and colours regularly, it could be the culprit behind your hair damage. These chemicals reduce hair strength making them prone to breakage and split ends. Hence it is advised to use the least amount of chemical-based products. Also, stay away from chemical styling like colouring and bleaching your hair. Switch to natural and organic products for hair hygiene. 
  • Heat: Whether it’s for getting straight hair or curls, every styling procedure requires one or the other form of heat treatment. But heat treatments do more than just a temporary change in your hairstyle. Excessive or regular exposure to heat leads to the decomposition of proteins that make up the basic structure of your hair. Regular use of styling instruments like hair straighteners, curlers, and hair blowers can even cause permanent damage to your hair. Many products promise to save your hair from heat produced by these equipment. These hair heat protectant products are mainly lipid-based products. You may find your hair to look really shiny and nourished after applying them before styling. But, as you wash off your hair, these products will get eliminated showing up the real damage that was caused. To prevent this damage, it is best to stick with your natural hair type or keep the temperature of your hair straighteners and rollers to the minimum and use blower maintaining a certain distance from hair. While the latter may not prevent split ends, it would definitely reduce the extent of the damage.
  • Mechanical forces: Excessive rubbing of hair is another reason for split ends. Rubbing causes friction in hair, creating damage and split ends. This mechanical force or friction can be because of anything that comes in contact with your hair. But pillow covers and towels are one of the most common causes of hair damage. So, the next time you dry your hair, go gentle on your hair or pat dry. You can also switch to smooth fabrics like satin to reduce hair damages.
  • Improper brushing of hair: It is said that our hair is the weakest when wet. Brushing generates an immense force on hair that can lead to hair breakage and split ends.
    Also when our hair is dry, most of us brush really hard to get those tangles off. This just adds to all that friction in your hair, further increasing hair damage. Hence it becomes really important to gently brush your hair to avoid much of the damages caused by it. Use a wide-toothed comb to untangle your hair and avoid vigorous combing to reduce friction. The latter also pulls hair from the root, leading to increased hair loss. If you tend to get excessively tangled hair, brush the hair near the ends first to make it easy to tackle the tangles and protect your hair from damage.
  • Exposure to sun: If you have to spend a lot of time under the sun, it could be the reason behind your split end problem. The heat from the sun acts just like those artificial heating equipment, breaking down basic hair structure and making them prone to damage. It also saps out all the moisture from your hair, leaving yours with dry and frizzy hair. Since hair at the end is the oldest and weakest they get thus easily affected. So, avoid going out in the sun. If required, you can cover your hair using a scarf.

Hair care for split ends

To stay healthy and alive, your hair needs special care and nourishment, which can only be achieved by a regular hair care regime. Most people tend to take their hair and scalp problems separately, though lively and lustrous hair can only be achieved if you have a healthy scalp. This is because blood and nourishment supply to your hair is through your scalp, not hair tips. Apart from nourishment, cleanliness and hydration of your scalp is also important if you want that perfect mane.
Here are some hair care techniques that can be useful in promoting hair health and preventing split ends

Wash your hair properly

Your hair come in contact with dust, pollutants and microbes all through the day. All of these may act as irritants to your scalp and can cause damage to your hair, making them look dry and frizzy. This hair damage may also manifest in the form of split ends. So, it is really important to clean your hair properly with a mild shampoo that suits your hair type. For better results, you can also opt for organic and herbal shampoos. Unlike the conventional chemical-based hair cleansers, these do not have as many side effects. In fact, some of them contain additional nourishing compounds that help promote hair health. Here are some steps you should follow to cleanse your hair:

  • Rinse your hair with water
  • Add a small amount of shampoo on your fingertips
  • Now, using your fingertips massage a region of your scalp
  • Massage the whole scalp using more amount of shampoo
  • Do not just add shampoo on a part of the scalp and start cleaning as this will increase the friction and cause hair tangling
  • The shampoo is majorly for your scalp. You do not need to apply much of shampoo on your hair either.
  • Now, rinse off this shampoo with water
  • Once you have removed all the shampoo, dry off extra water with a soft towel
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Don't forget to condition your hair

Conditioning provides moisture and nourishment to hair and also reduces inter-fibre friction. This makes your hair healthy and stronger. Most people just clean their hair with a shampoo and do not bother to apply any conditioner. Though it is enough to cleanse all the dust from your scalp, the shampoo also washes off a major part of the natural oils in your hair. So, it is always recommended to apply some conditioner in your hair, especially on the tips so as to replenish the lost essential nourishment and moisture. Also, it is important to know the right way to condition your hair.

  • While your hair is still damp after cleansing, apply some conditioner on them
  • Do not apply conditioner on hair roots just hair shafts and tips.
  • Leave the conditioner in your hair for some time and then wash it off with cold water.

Just like it is with hair cleansers, it is always best to use a natural and organic conditioner to stay away from chemical damage.

Provide external nourishment

Cleansing and oiling aside, your hair needs proper nourishment to grow. Lacking which, they can easily become damaged and frizzy. While a healthy diet would be more than enough to supply all of the required nutrients to your hair, you can also give them a nutritional boost in the form of topical applications in the form of oils, masks and hair serums. Let us see how they work and how you can use them to improve hair health:

  • Oiling your hair regularly: One of the best and easiest ways to improve hair nourishment is through oils and hair massage. Oils help lock in moisture in your scalp and penetrate deep within your hair shaft thus strengthening your hair from the base up. They also play an important role in protecting hair from damage and protein loss, thus preventing dryness and frizziness of hair. Though you can opt for various herbal or natural oils, coconut oil and olive oil are the most effective in tackling hair damage. They also have the best penetration capacity and antioxidant capacity to protect your hair from age-related damage and premature hair greying. Surely an excellent perk, eh? (Read more - Best hair oil and how to use them)
  • Hair masks: Applying hair mask can be a great technique to help your hair get their required nutrition. Hair mask with different qualities are available in the market that can make your hair soft and shiny along with keeping them safe from split ends and damage. Hair masks can also be prepared at home easily. The plus point with homemade hair mask is that they are chemical free. There can be thousands of hair masks that can be easily prepared at home. Make sure you choose the right ingredients as per your hair type.
  • Serum: If you are not a fan of home remedies or oils, hair serums could be your best bet against damaged and dull hair. Serum provides extra nourishment to hair and helps your hair stay hydrated and moisturised. And we all know that moisturised and healthy hair are less prone to split ends. Serums give a natural and healthy looking shine to your hair and also reduces frizz and dryness. Here are some tips that you must know before applying hair serum:
    •  You just need to take a few drops of serum and apply it on your hair evenly. Do not apply too much of serums as it can make your hair look oily. Just a few drops of serum will be sufficient for the whole hair.
    • Also, a serum is for hair, not scalp. So, do not apply the serum on the scalp. Focus majorly on the dry areas of hair like hair tips
    • ​​For an additional boost, it is best to use a serum that is rich in biotin. Biotin is a great protein supplement for hair. It makes your hair thicker and longer, giving you the long tresses of your dreams.

Split end treatment

Once split ends occur, it is next to impossible to reverse the damage. The only option is to stop your hair from getting more split ends. For this, you need to take proper care of your hair and provide them with proper nourishment by oiling and applying a hair mask. Moreover, you can follow other preventive steps like keeping your hair safe from temperature, chemical and mechanical damages.
Apart from that, you can also go for a hair trimming to get away from those rough and dry split ends.
If split ends are worse, it is advised to go for a proper haircut. This can be a good idea to switch to a new hairstyle and get a new look.

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Keratin treatment for split ends

Keratin is a protein found in our hair, nail and skin. Keratin treatment is commonly used to improve the texture and condition of hair. For this treatment, a cream containing formaldehyde is brushed into the hair and later pressed to make your hair look shiny and straight. It provides nourishment and moisture to hair and once done, the effects of this treatment will not go until you chop off your hair.
So, it can be a good permanent solution for various hair problems like dry and damaged hair. 
However, this does not mean that you can stop caring for your hair. Your hair are continuously growing and if you don’t want your new hair to go through the same damage, you need to take regular care of hair even after going through keratin therapy.
Also, like every treatment, keratin treatment has its own set of side effects. These include:

  • Breathing and lung problems like asthma because of inhaling chemicals involved in a keratin treatment.
  • ​Severe reactions if these chemicals get into the skin. This is because formaldehyde is a sensitizer and initiates allergic reactions.
  • ​If these chemicals get into eyes, they might damage your eyes and may even cause blindness.


  1. Ogle School. What Your Split Ends Are Telling You. National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences; Virginia, United States
  2. Maria Fernanda Reis Gavazzoni Dias. Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. Int J Trichology. 2015 Jan-Mar; 7(1): 2–15. PMID: 25878443
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Oily hair
  4. Kiderman A, Gur I, Ever-Hadani P. The effect of brushing on hair loss in women.. J Dermatolog Treat. 2009;20(3):152-5. PMID: 19016066
  5. American Academy of Dermatology. Rosemont (IL), US; Taking care of your hair
  6. B Satheesha Nayak et al. A Study on Scalp Hair Health and Hair Care Practices among Malaysian Medical Students. Int J Trichology. 2017 Apr-Jun; 9(2): 58–62. PMID: 28839388
  7. Ogle School. Tips Every Girl with Frizzy Hair Needs To Know. National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences; Virginia, United States
  8. American Academy of Dermatology. Rosemont (IL), US; How hair grows
  9. National Institutes of Health; Office of Dietary Supplements. [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Biotin.
  10. Weathersby C, McMichael A. Brazilian keratin hair treatment: a review.. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Jun;12(2):144-8. PMID: 23725308
  11. U.S. Department of Labour. Hair Smoothing Products That Could Release Formaldehyde. Washington DC ,USA

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