The hair structure consists three layers – the medula, the innermost layer; the cortex, the center layer that determines the texture and color of the hair; and the cuticle, the thin and colorless outermost layer that protects the cortex. When the cuticles of the hair become damaged, the inner hair fibers are exposed to destructive elements that cause trichoptilosis or split ends. Split ends are longitudinal breakage and fraying of the inner hair fibers, giving the hair a feathered look. A split end can be between 0.79 to 1.18 inches (2 to 3 cm) in length and can be found at any part of the hair strand, particularly at the end. Difficult to treat and impossible to cure unless you trim off the split ends, the best way to avoid this problem is to take preventive haircare measures such as the follow.
1. Do not overdo hairstyling. A good start to prevent the formation of split ends is to minimize or eliminate the application of direct heat to the hair. Frequent hairstyling with blow dryers, hot curlers, hair straighteners, and curling irons depletes the hair of its natural oils, making it more susceptible to split ends. If you absolutely must blow dry your hair, use the lowest temperature possible and keep the blow dryer at least four inches (10.2 cm) away from your hair.
2. Cut down on chemicals. Avoid using too many chemical products, such as gel, mousse, and hair spray. Hairstyling with these products damages and weakens the hair, leading to split ends. Do not use any haircare products containing alcohol, including alcohol-based shampoos. Alcohol causes the hair to lose moisture and become brittle. Dry hair is susceptible to splitting.
3. Be gentle with your hair. Remember that wet hair is more vulnerable to damage, so do not brush your hair when it is wet. Avoid overbrushing, as brushing in itself causes stress to the hair, leading to split ends. When you do brush your hair, use a hairbrush with soft, even bristles or a wide-toothed comb. Avoid nylon bristles at all costs.
Do not comb through tangled hair. Doing so rips the hair strands roughly, destroying the cuticles and exposing the inner hair fibers to the danger of split ends. Instead, separate tangled hair into sections. Working on each section, slowly untangle your hair from end to root using your fingers or a wide-toothed comb.
4. Use the right accessories. When using hair accessories such as colorful hairpins and bands, make sure they are not too harsh for your hair. Use hairpins with smooth ends. Sharp hairpin ends can tear at the hair strands when you unpin them. Additionally, avoid using rubber bands to tie your hair. Instead, do up your ponytail with a soft scrunchie or other fabric elastic band.
5. Moisturize. Split ends are caused by a lack of moisture in the hair. Hence, it is important to keep hair moisturized through the use of hair conditioners after each shampoo. Use a deep conditioner once a week as an additional measure to prevent split ends. Furthermore, drink a lot of water to keep your body and hair constantly hydrated.
6. Schedule an appointment. Make an appointment with your trusted hairdresser every four to six weeks to trim off dry and brittle ends. Trimming your hair regularly can prevent the formation of split ends or get rid of those that are already there