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Split Ends vs Healthy Hair: How to Prevent Splits & Breakage

African American female with long hair treats her hair regularly with sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner.

Keeping your hair healthy is a real feat, considering the sheer volume of things that can go wrong. One of the most prominent issues experienced by anyone with natural hair is split ends.

If you aren’t sure whether you have split ends, what causes them, or what to do about them, we can help. We’ll start by giving you a rundown of split ends and what makes them different from healthy hair, and then we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get healthier hair. 

Split Ends Vs Healthy Hair: The Differences

Split ends occur when your individual hair strands become damaged or frayed and begin to split. There are several types of split ends, including the common “Y” split, where one strand splits in two at the end, and the “triple split-end,” where the hair splits into three separate sections at the end.

Split ends make the hair less structurally sound and can cause it to become brittle and more prone to further damage. They also cause the hair to look unhealthy and can make it more difficult to style.

Healthy hair, on the other hand, is strong and resilient. The outer layer of the hair strand is intact, and the inner core is protected. It looks better than split hair and is easier to style.

African American female with shoulder-length short hair styled with coconut oil and organic hair products.

Can Hair Be Healthy with Split Ends?

Yes, hair can be primarily healthy with split ends. The portion of your hair that isn’t split could be moisturized, shiny, and supple. But that doesn’t mean that you should ignore your split ends. It’s important to address them as soon as possible.

Do Split Ends Mean Damaged Hair?

Sometimes, people get confused about the connection between damage and split ends. So, we’ll set the record straight here.

Split ends mean damaged hair. In their simplest nature, split ends are damaged ends. Any time you have split ends, there’s damage that you need to remedy.

A cute young black lady wearing curly hair extensions due to deep splits on her hair ends from excessive heat styling.

How Do You Tell If You Have Split or Dead Ends?

Not sure whether you have split or dead ends? That’s understandable since split ends can be hard to spot. Here are a few telltale signs that you may be dealing with this problem.

One of the most obvious signs is excess shedding. If you notice that you are losing an unusual amount of hair, it may signify that your ends are split.

Another common symptom is frizziness.

When the protective layer of the hair shaft is damaged, it can cause the hair to become dry and brittle, resulting in frizzy, unmanageable locks.

If you notice either of these symptoms, it’s important to consult a professional haircare expert or take some steps to treat the problem (more on that in the following sections).

A young female with curly hair cuticles styled with hair masks after suffering from baby splits and dry texture.

Does Brushing Hair Cause Split Ends?

Brushing your hair can cause split ends because it damages the hair shaft. The act of brushing creates friction that can break down your hair cuticle, leading to split ends.

If you’re experiencing a lot of split ends, it may be time to reconsider your brushing habits. While it is true that brushing can damage the ends of your hair, it is not the only cause of split ends.

A cute young girl with healthy ends on her 3B natural hair type with no chemical treatments.

Other Causes of Split Ends

Many factors can contribute to split ends, including:

  • Harsh shampooing – Shampooing your hair with sulfate and salt-containing shampoos can dry out your hair, leaving it vulnerable to split ends.
  • Heat styling – Hot tools (e.g., flat irons, curling irons) can wear away your hair’s outer structure. And since your ends are already the oldest parts of your hair, they are more susceptible to damage.
  • Dyeing or bleachingColoring your hair can also lead to split ends. The chemicals in hair dye or bleach can strip away the natural oils that protect your hair, making it more likely to break.
  • Environmental factors – Exposure to sunlight, wind, and pollution can all cause damage to your hair in the form of split ends.
A beautiful black woman whose hair grows inwards has an incomplete split due to a bad hair cut.

How To Get Rid Of Split Ends

Now that you know what split ends are and what causes them, you may be wondering how to get rid of them. Unfortunately, there is no way to “repair” split ends.

Once your hair is damaged, the only way to eliminate the split ends is to cut them off.

HOW TO cut very bad split ends on natural hair without pressing

You can either DIY your cut or go to your local stylist. If you want to get rid of your split ends at home, here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Stretch Your Hair

Due to the nature of curly hair, it can be difficult to see your split ends. To make them easier to spot, start by stretching out your hair. This can be done by braiding or twisting your hair beforehand and then combing through it with a wide-tooth comb.

Step 2: Section Your Dry Stretched Hair Into Four Parts

Make a section at the top, bottom, left side, and right side. Then put an elastic band on each of the sections.

A young light-skinned experienced hair fiber damage due to excessive heat usage during her hair care routine.

Step 3: Begin Trimming

Separate one of the sections into several small horizontal sub-sections. Hold each sub-section straight out (make sure it’s taut), then slide your middle finger and pointer fingers down either side of the hair until you get almost to the ends.

Use sharp hair cutting shears to cut off the tips of the section.

Step 4: Repeat the Previous Steps on All of the Sections

Cutting all the split ends off could take 30 minutes or more. Take your time and make small cuts so you don’t accidentally remove too much length.

A female with feather splits after undergoing a dark brown hair coloring treatment on her 3B soft texture.

Step 5: Comb Through Your Hair

Once you’ve finished cutting your hair, comb through it gently to make sure you got all of the split ends. If you see any more, trim them off.

Step 6: Style as Usual

Congrats! You’ve successfully trimmed your split ends. Now, you can style your hair as usual.

What Happens If You Don’t Trim Split Ends?

If you don’t trim your split ends, they will continue to split up your hair shaft, eventually leading to breakage. That’s why putting off trims is not worth it in the long run.

Not only will you have to deal with damaged, unhealthy hair, but you’ll also have to chop off more length than if you had just trimmed your split ends regularly.

A lady wearing her hair pinned up with ouchless hair accessories to prevent hair damage.

How To Prevent Split Ends

Not only do split ends make your hair look dry and damaged, but they can also be challenging to get rid of. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prevent split ends from happening in the first place. 

How to Prevent Split Ends on Natural Hair | 5 Causes and Solutions to your Split Ends

One of the best things you can do is to keep your hair well hydrated. This means regularly using a super hydrating conditioner and avoiding products that contain drying chemicals and ingredients.

You should also try to avoid heat styling whenever possible, as this can damage the hair and lead to split ends. Finally, be sure to get your hair trimmed regularly; doing so will keep split ends from accumulating over time.

By following these simple tips, you can keep your curly hair looking healthy and free of split ends.

Note: You will need to do all of these things to give your hair a good chance at health. 

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So, there you have it – everything you need to know about split ends vs. healthy hair. You also know how to get rid of split ends and prevent them from happening in the first place.

So, what are you waiting for? Get rid of those split ends and discover a healthier, more beautiful version of your hair!