The haircare market is saturated with high-tech-sounding products which claim to repair split ends. Sadly, this is impossible. Once physical damage has occurred, no conditioner or masque in the world can transform the hair back into its shiny self. Hair is dead; it has no regenerative or self-healing properties. Most products targeted towards split ends contain silicones which coat the hair, filling in the rough surface and giving a temporarily smoother look. Unfortunately, many people find that silicones dry out hair, resulting in further breakage.
How to Prevent Split Ends
For the most part, preventing split ends involves following the same guidelines as preventing tangled hair and general gentle haircare techniques. The rules include:
Keeping hair confined (braided or bunned) as much as possible, and especially at night
Sleeping on a satin pillowcase to minimise friction
Keeping hair moisturised for extra 'slip'
Combing with fingers or a wide-toothed comb and using a boar-bristle brush to polish; avoiding bobble-ended brushes
Washing hair carefully, without piling it atop your head
Using shampoo only when necessary to avoid overdrying
Avoiding damage from blowdrying, chemical dyes, curling or straightening
How to Get Rid Of Split Ends
Getting rid of split ends involves either snipping them out individually or waiting for the split hairs to naturally shed out (a process which typically takes 2-6 years). Trimming an inch off your hair will not remove the damage, as splits do not conveniently occur in the last inch of hair! Splits can occur at any point along the hair shaft; hairs can also have multiple splits or splits which appear as a slit in the hair, but do not divide it. It is recommended to remove split ends, as they may split farther up the hair shaft with time, and as they can cause further damage by getting tangled due to their fineness.
Snip split ends out using extremely sharp scissors—embroidery scissors work well. Commercial split end cutters are also available. Snip the hair straight across, not at an angle, ¼ inch above the split. Never break a hair off above the split, as it will be damaged and usually re-split. Cutting split ends is time-consuming, and should be done in bright light with the hair held up to a contrasting surface (white for dark hair, black for fair). Some people like to trim split ends during television commercials or other downtime—in fact, the process can be surprisingly addictive!
Snipping out split ends individually is ideal for those trying to grow out their hair, as it causes no loss of overall length. As you develop a gentle haircare routine, splits should begin to diminish.