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What Causes Split Ends?

Split ends can be alarming once you first notice them. The frayed ends can appear as whitish "dots" on the ends of the hair. You might also see a frayed or frizzy appearance around the edges of your haircut, like in the layering around the face. Split ends are a clear sign the hair needs cutting, but they are also telling you that it's time to change up your hair care routine.

Read on to find out how you can avoid this sign of unhealthy hair and support healthy hair from root to tip.

The Science of Split Ends

Damaged hair tends to split from the tip of the hair shaft upward, creating what we call "split ends." While it might not be clear why some people's hair is more prone to splitting, we do know that certain factors play a role, and that you can take care to prevent this type of hair breakage.

Science explains that what causes split ends is a combination of factors such as:

  • Grooming behaviors
  • Chemical treatments of the hair
  • Environmental and genetic factors
  • Type of hair structure

One study performed by the Society of Cosmetic Chemists of Great Britain showed that grooming activities and shampooing can cause the hair to split at the ends. Researcher V.N.E. Robinson wrote that split ends could be entirely caused by "...the [abrasion] normally associated with hair grooming."

"In particular, [shampooing] and [brushing] can produce all of the observed changes detected in virgin hair. These changes are more deleterious in some cosmetically altered hairs. This appears to be attributable to a decrease in the disulphide bond content of these [fibers], this decrease being brought about by the cosmetic treatment."

This tells us that chemically treated hair is more likely to split at the ends due to a breakdown of the bonds in the hair's structure, but also that shampooing and styling play a major role in the formation of split ends.

Robinson goes on, explaining that "when first formed, [the hair] displays a scale structure with smooth edges." When it goes through a process of "weathering," the hair develops "jagged scale edges" that progressively frays, splits at the ends, and finally, vertically splits up the hair shaft.

Now that you know the progression of split ends, you can work to recognize the early signs of damage, trim the hair and also work to keep it as healthy as possible to avoid this type of hair damage.

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What Causes Split Ends?

Many factors can rough up the cuticle of the hair shaft, which, at the ends, will eventually lead to split ends. Here are some of the causes for your split ends:

  • Weathering: Sunshine, weather, and friction
  • Hair grooming: Hair brushing, hair styling, and hair shampooing
  • Chemical treatments: Hair coloring, highlighting or bleaching, permanent wave treatments, relaxer treatments and chemical straightening
  • Rough styling and blow-drying: High temperatures or excessive heat from a hot blow dryer, hot tools like flat irons, and frequent hot-roller styling can cause damaged hair or dry hair that becomes brittle on the ends making them more prone to split.
  • Skipping hair cuts: Regular trims help to prevent split ends.
  • Internal factors: Genetics, hair types, and poor health might also contribute.

Can You Repair Split Ends?

The answer is a resounding no. Once the damage process has begun on the tips of your hair, it cannot be repaired or "undone." Split ends can only be trimmed away with a haircut.

Because split ends cannot be repaired, it's best to avoid them in the first place and do what you can to protect hair from splitting. Use products that keep your hair healthy and prevent any physical damage to the hair.

Preventative Hair Care

Though your shampoo cannot correct split ends, you can and should be selective in what products you use on your hair to keep it strong and healthy—and less prone to breakage.

Keep your hair strong and healthy with Karmatin™, a vegan alternative to keratin First of all, keratin lacks bonding ability, which means that all those keratin treatments you paid for at the salon essentially were rinsed right out of your hair and down the drain.

VEGAMOUR solved this issue by using a plant-based protein that bonds better to the hair to strengthen it from the inside out. Karmatin™, unlike animal-derived keratin, remains attached to your strands even after rinsing, allowing it to repair and protect hair long after shampooing. Wild harvested marula, baobab and ximenia oils also help to further nourish and moisturize without leaving behind any pore-blocking residue.

This type of revolutionary protein is found in:

Get Regular Haircuts

If you have split ends, the longer you put off a haircut, the more length of your hair you risk losing. Split ends will often continue to split the hair up the hair shaft, like the end of an unraveling rope.

To prevent split ends, trim your hair regularly to keep the ends of the hairs cut bluntly and smoothly, avoiding frayed tips, removing any existing frayed ends, and helping shape away any hair strand splits. Your stylist knows to look for them and will work to remove them in a hair cutting service.

Styling Tips to Avoid Split Ends

Try our curated tips below for healthy hair and split ends preventative care.

Gentle Hair Styling

There are some things you can do right at home to help prevent split ends. Using hair masks as deep conditioning treatments, for example, could help strengthen the hair. Along with a restoring hair mask, you can also replace your cotton pillowcases (which could be absorbing precious moisture from your hair and scalp) with vegan silk ones, which are less abrasive on the hair. This will help to reduce friction on the hair while you sleep.

If you use elastic ties on your hair, switch to a more loose and soft hair band. When you use bands on the ends of your hair, it can create impressions that weaken the ends. Avoid tight banding.

Use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner and allow the hair to air dry. Do not brush wet hair, which could cause breakage to vulnerable wet hair strands. When towel drying the hair after shampooing and conditioning, use a microfiber towel, which is more gentle on the hair.

Careful Use of Styling Tools

Hair that is treated with high heat is more prone to develop split ends. Avoid split ends caused by frequent heat styling by:

  • Using heat protectant when heat styling or drying the hair to prevent natural moisture loss and damage to the hair shafts.
  • Avoiding using hot tools on the hair. Use low heat settings when possible.
  • Replacing your hairbrush with a natural boar-bristled brush to prevent breakage and add a natural shine to the hair. Regular brushing also helps if your hair is easily tangled, and protects hair from splitting.

Care for Your Hair Root to Tips

If you've struggled with split ends, know that with regular trims and these tips for excellent home care for your hair, you could be seeing much smoother ends in your hair. Follow VEGAMOUR blog for more tips on how to make your hair stronger and more beautiful with the superior care of Karmatin™, and help your hair experience strength and wellness from root to tips!


Photo credit: Anna Tarazevich/Pexels

Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.