What Are Split Ends? Get the Facts

Split ends are an all-too-common occurrence in men and women with long hair. If you allow your hair to grow out, you may develop this condition. It's frustrating when you style your hair in the morning, only to discover that the ends are split. While some people are naturally more susceptible to this condition than others, anyone can develop split ends. By familiarizing yourself with split ends, however, you can take the necessary precautions to prevent it from occurring with your hair.

Split Ends Explained

The term “split ends” refers to a condition in which hair splits or frays at the ends. Also known as trichoptilosis, it's characterized by the ends of hair splitting away from the shaft. Much like a rope can unravel at the ends, so can your hair. When the ends of your hair begin to separate and pull apart from the shaft, it's considered split ends.

Signs of Split Ends

If you suffer from split ends, you may notice a few telltale signs. For starters, your hair may look straight towards the roots but frizzy towards the ends. As the ends split, hair becomes frizzier. Because splitting occurs at the ends, however, your hair will remain straight around the roots.

Your hair may also feel dry and brittle if the ends are split. Split ends don't occur naturally; they are the result of damage. If your hair becomes damaged at the ends, it may split away from the shaft, resulting in split ends.

Split ends can make it difficult to comb or brush your hair. You shouldn't have trouble running a comb or brush through around the roots of your hair, but once you get to the split ends, you may encounter resistance. Split ends essentially tangle together to create knots that are nearly impossible to comb or brush through.

Tips to Prevent Split Ends

So, what steps can you take to protect against split ends? Getting your hair cut more frequently is an easy and effective way to lower your risk of split ends. Even if it's nothing more than a trim, it will create clean ends that are less likely to split.

Contrary to what some people believe, you don't need to wash your hair every day. Washing your hair daily, in fact, can leave it susceptible to split ends. It exposes your hair to stress, as well as chemicals, that can dry it out and, thus, increase the risk of split ends.

Using a conditioner can help protect against split ends. Conditioners contain essential ingredients to moisturize hair so that it doesn't dry out.

Perhaps the most important tip to protect against split ends is to watch the heat. Exposing your hair to heat -- whether from a curling iron, hairdryer or chemical straightener -- may cause the ends to split. You can still use curling irons or other heat-generating devices or products on your hair; just remember to limit the amount of time to which your hair is exposed to heat.

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