|Source: Tamullar (Long Hair Community)|
Did you know that there were this many kinds of split ends?!? Pretty nasty, right? Well, I can attest to the validity of this chart. Because, about 2 1/2 years ago, I saw just about every split end on it (except the white spots) in my own head of hair. It was bad y’all. I mean, baaaaaddddd! That’s when I took to carrying around purse scissors … so that I could take split ends to task at a moment’s notice, any time, any place (seriously, I was out of control)!
But now, in 2013, the split ends are few and far in between and have been for quite a while. Let’s put it out there. I have fine strands. So, I’ll probably always get split ends no matter how protective I am of my hair/ends (unlike my compatriots with strong, thick-strands ). But, now I generally only see the vanilla variety, single “split” end … and they tend to be far rarer and very small. No more nasty “feathers,” “trees,” “double Ys,” “incomplete splits” (I call those “needle hole splits!”), “ETCETERA, ETCETERA.” (“The King and I?!?” Anyone, anyone? Okay, moving along.)
Anywho, as I was writing Fairytale v. Blunt Ends and discussing whether uneven, thinner ends can be healthy, I thought about my own hair. Although I have “fairytale” ends, when I examine my strands, they are mostly un-split and healthy in appearance. So, I thought about the techniques and products that I’ve incorporated into my regimen that are probably the most responsible for that. I came up with three things that I think help me keep splits under control:
Pre-pooing: Applying coconut oil, or a form of it (in my case Vatika Oil), to hair for an hour to overnight prior to washing reduces/prevents hygral fatigue and protein erosion that generally occur when washing hair. (For more on hygral fatigue, see this informative NaturallyCurly.com article).
Protein treatments/reconstructors: Protein treatments help to “patch” cracked, chipped or missing cuticle in damaged hair and “gaps” in porous hair. Protein, when used correctly, temporarily shores hair up against environmental and mechanical damage. (For more on protein, check out the great 2 part protein series on Natural Haven, which starts here.)
Pruning: Trim split and knotted ends that have already occurred to prevent collateral damage to healthy adjacent strands and as a prophylactic measure to prevent a cycle of breakage. You see, nothing can permanently fix/repair split ends. So, once you have them, you have to cut them off to get rid of them. There is a myth that, if left unchecked, split ends will travel all the way to the root of the hair. Yeah, have you ever seen that? I know that I haven’t (see above about having almost every split on the chart). What does happen is that a weakened, split hair will typically break somewhere around the split and leave a new split (because the hair doesn’t break off clean/blunt). So the new split forms and may spread until it also breaks. Then another split is left behind and so on and so on. Therefore, cutting off split ends periodically, through search and destroys (my method of choice) and/or periodic trims as needed (once every few months, twice a year or yearly, all depends on your hair), helps prevent a cycle of splits and breakage. (Tip: Make certain trimming scissors are created for that purpose, are sharp and are used for hair only or you can cause more harm than good!)
Ultimately, a lot of things contributed to a reduction in damage and split ends: weekly deep conditioning, gentle detangling, protective styling, etc. However, I think that incorporating pre-pooing, protein and pruning into my regimen are largely responsible for the significant reduction I’ve seen in split ends. And, a reduction in split ends and breakage has allowed me to retain length and grow my hair the longest it has ever been in my life. Don’t get me wrong, it ain’t perfect, but it seems to get better and better all of the time.