As you know, your ends are the oldest part of your hair and the most fragile. This makes them very vulnerable to breakage. That’s not to say that your hair can’t break off in other places. It’s just more likely to take place at the ends of the hair shaft.
So here’s 3 easy ways (consistency required) to protect those ends (and no, protective styling isn’t one of them) -
Keep your ends well moisturized – Not with just water. Water evaporates and must be sealed into the hair. I find that using a butter based moisturizer (with water as the first ingredient), helps keep my ends very soft and moisturized. While you want to moisturize your entire head of hair (how often depends on your hair type and needs), you want to pay special focus to the ends. You can moisturize your ends only right after styling your hair and still maintain your 'do. Simply, apply the moisturizer to your hands and scrunch it in.
Keep your ends sealed with a heavy oil - JBCO (Jamaican Black Castor Oil) is my favorite with Thirsty Roots Apricot Castor Oil following closely behind. I don’t care to seal the entire length of my strands with castor oil but for the ends, it’s thick enough to keep them nice and clumped together. Remember, there's strength in numbers!
Tuck them away- Aside from hiding your ends away in buns and other pin up-dos, if you are rocking twist outs or braid outs, a great way to protect your ends from breakage while maintaining the style is to re-twist/re-braid all of the hair loosely into one (or two) twists/braids and then take the ends of the twist/braid and tuck it up into the twist/braid. Like so:
In this pic my hair is in small braids but the technique is the same.
I first learned this method from reading Teri Laflesh’s book The Tightly Curly Method. I found it to be very helpful.