When you’re on the quest to grow and maintain a head full of healthy hair, there may be no larger culprit than split ends. The ends of your hair are the oldest part of the strand, and split ends happen when they become so dry and brittle that they fray into separate parts. As a result, your hair ends up looking frizzy and becomes unmanageable. That’s why it’s always a good idea to do all that you can to prevent split ends from wreaking havoc in your hair routine.
Today, we’ll be tackling healthy hair practices that you can do to keep split ends from occurring. For starters, I think it’s important to know that there are multiple ways that your ends can actually, well, split. So, what are some practical things that you can do to keep all of the split end varieties from messing with your mane? Here are seven tips that have totally helped me out.
Trim your ends regularly
When you’re in the process of trying to gain some real inches, the last thing you want to do is get a haircut. But the reality is that your ends are the oldest part of your hair and they are most likely to rub against your clothes and pillow, so we simply cannot avoid a trim forever. What’s worse is, if you leave them alone, the split could run up the shaft of your hair and result in all kinds of frizz and overall unhealthiness. Plus, no matter how much hair commercials try and say otherwise, you can’t really mend a split end. Once they are there, they’re there to stay. That’s why, it’s really important to trim them. How often? While a lot of stylists say every 4-6 weeks, depending on how well you take care of your hair, that may not be necessary. Just make sure that, each wash day, you look to see if your ends are frayed. If so, it’s time for a trim—or at least for you to dust your ends. While trimming your ends won’t speed up the growth process, what it will do is make sure that your hair remains in good condition so that you can grow (and keep) strong hair from root to tip.
Read more: 5 Signs to Know Your Curly Hair Needs a Trim
Deep condition your hair
I’ve said before on this platform that it’s hard to do any type of hair care article and leave the importance of deep conditioning out of it. Deep conditioning is one of the best ways to “baby your ends” because it helps to keep them moisturized which protects them from all of the wear and tear that comes from daily styling and maintenance. In fact, make sure that when you do deep condition your hair that you’re intentional about deeply saturating your ends with your deep conditioner of choice and that you leave the product on for no less than 30 minutes in order to get the most optimal results. If you do this faithfully, you should notice less split ends, every time you wash (and condition) your hair.
Seal your ends
After you moisturize your hair, it’s really important to seal that moisture in too. Sealing is simply about locking in the moisture that your hair has already obtained with an oil like Jamaican black castor oil or a butter like shea butter. Just make sure that once you’ve applied your “sealant”, that you leave your ends completely alone until your hair has totally dried. Otherwise, some of the product could rub off on your hands and your ends could miss out on the extra moisture that you were trying to give it. While some people only seal their ends on wash day, I sometimes do it once or twice again in between; just to make sure my ends get the extra protection that they need.
Lay off of the heat
While on the quest for length retention, I’m actually someone who has seen better results when I blow dry my hair on wash days than when I don’t. I think it’s because the extra “stretch” makes my hair easier to manage while helping to prevent fairy knots in the process. At the same time, I have to be really delicate when it comes to how I handle my hair during the blow-drying process. I make sure to let my hair air dry at least 50-60 percent first to significantly reduces the chances of it “frying” from the dryer. I definitely make sure to apply a cream-based thermal protectant (cream is thicker). I’m also intentional about not going above medium heat. While going hotter might make your hair straighter, what it also does is zap the moisture out of your hair which then makes it so much more vulnerable to becoming super brittle and ultimately fraying. The moral of the story is that with any heating tool, proceed with caution and use as little as possible. The reality is that any time you apply heat, you are subjecting yourself to potential damage. Split ends included.
Keep your ends off of your clothes
One major cause of split ends that I believe doesn’t get enough attention, is that we like to wear our hair out (or down, depending on the length). While it’s cute and all, the constant rubbing against the fabric of our clothing can lead to split ends and/or fairy knots (especially when you’re wearing a more “rugged” fabric like wool). Aside from the fact that protective styling is a great way to keep your hands out of your hair (more on that in a sec) and protect your tresses from harsh weather elements (more on this in a sec too), it’s also really great at keeping your ends from incurring a lot of friction. So when possible try to keep your hair up off of your shoulders, especially when you’re wearing a fabric that is prone to drying your ends out. A pineapple like @ashlydanielaaa's above is one cute option to keep your ends tucked up and away.
Keep your hands out of your hair
There once was a time when I couldn’t stop fairy knots from occurring, and it used to drive me absolutely up the wall. Then I noticed something—whenever my hair was up in box braids, I hardly ever had any. That is because constantly touching and messing with our hair can cause split ends - and let’s be real, we do that more than we should. I don’t know if it’s a stress releaser or we subconsciously think that the more we touch our hair, the faster we’ll feel growth results. But one of the best things that you can do to keep split ends from occurring, is to keep your hands totally out other than when you’re styling your locks. Even then, make sure to use combs and brushes that won’t snag your ends (by the way, if a lot of snagging is happening, that’s another sign that it’s time to trim your ends). So opt for a stress ball rather than tugging on your hair if you want to keep your ends intact for as long as possible and avoid the shears.
Watch the weather
There’s no way around the fact that the weather can lead to split ends too. The summer sun can dry out your hair and there is typically less humidity during the winter which means that your tresses can dry out then as well. So, when you know that you’re going to be outdoors in the sun for a long period of time, consider covering up your hair with a hat. During the winter season, consider sleeping on a satin pillowcase and turning a humidifier on so that moisture won’t get zapped from your hair and your precious ends will remain strong and healthy.