If there’s one thing that will kill a good hair day, it’s spotting a bunch of frazzled, frayed strands protruding from your expertly tied ponytail. Split ends are the enemy of every long-haired person, and can easily become a recurring problem thanks to the multiple ways we damage our hair through styling (hello bleach and straighteners). We asked Anabel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kingsley, to explain why split ends happen and what you can do to prevent and avoid them – once and for all.
Firstly, what causes split ends?
“Longer hair is more prone to splitting, simply because the ends are older and more weathered. If you have hair below shoulder length, hydrate and deep condition your hair on a regular basis to keep your ends supple, and to reduce further weathering. Not many people know that your hair can burn, just like your skin. This makes it more prone to splitting and further damage. If you sit in the sun for a prolonged period of time, you should always protect your hair with a leave-in UV protector, or wear a hat.”
Is there anything we can do to stop split ends from forming?
“Boar bristles are harsh on the hair and can tear sections of the cuticle away, causing split ends and overly fragile strands. They can also scratch the scalp. Limit the use of bristle brushes to once a week. On other days, use a vented brush with rounded plastic prongs – these are much more gentle on the hair and scalp. After showering, you should also gently squeeze excess moisture from your hair. If you rub your hair roughly, you can cause breakage, split ends, and tangles. Turn off the heat when your hair is ‘just dry’ too. Over-drying your hair with a blow dryer can seriously de-hydrate your ends and cause them to split.”
How regularly should we trim our hair to stop split ends?
“I recommend every six to eight weeks, depending on the condition of your ends. If you leave it longer than eight weeks, split ends are likely to form and after this time, the ends tend to look slightly wispy.”
Can you recommend any products that will help prevent them?
“There’s a lot you can do to avoid getting them. Firstly, use a weekly pre-shampoo conditioner (such as Phillip Kingsley Elasticizer, AED290) to strengthen your hair. This will make your strands more resilient, so they will be less likely to split. Secondly, avoid handling your hair in a way that encourages the formation of split ends. One of the worst offenders is the repeated use of rough bristle brushes. To comb through your hair, apply a detangling spray and, starting at your ends, gently work your way up.”
Finally, do products that claim to seal or repair split ends actually work?
“Unfortunately, you can’t mend split ends – the only cure is to cut them off.”