Here's What's Really Causing Your Split Ends

Everyone gets split ends from time to time. While this hair woe is normal, it can still be frustrating to see the splitting and tangling of our ends. Understanding what causes split ends can help you avoid them as long as possible and prevent them from getting unmanageable.

"Split ends are fraying of the ends of our hair," Joyce Davis, M.D., board-certified dermatologist, told Good Housekeeping. "Various physical and chemical factors (both environmental and cosmetic) can cause progressive damage to the cuticle that normally protects our hair. When this is lost at the hair tip, the underlying fibers separate."

Because your hair grows at the root of your scalp, the ends are the oldest part. This hair has experienced the most heat damage, dryness, and stress, which is why it is most prone to fraying. Damage that causes split ends can come from many sources including hot tools like curling irons and straighteners, frequent brushing, tight hairstyles, and chemical damage.

There are many ways to avoid split ends

While split ends are inevitable at some point, you can help your hair stay healthy with various care techniques. Most advice revolves around being gentle with your hair, especially when it's wet. "When your hair is wet, it's in its most fragile state, and the daily wear and tear on wet hair (in the form of shampooing) can cause split ends," Arsen Gurgov, professional hairstylist and the founder of Arsen Gurgov Salon in New York City, told Byrdie. "A good tip to avoid over-shampooing is to pull your hair back into a ponytail and use the same amount of shampoo as the diameter of the ponytail."

Your hair isn't indestructible when it's dry though. Avoid using hot tools when possible, as these can dry out and damage your hair over time. If you need to blow dry your hair, avoid drying the ends and focus on the roots instead. Use a heat-protectant spray before using any hot tools to help protect your hair. Getting regular trims is also important because it will remove current split ends before they get any worse.

Finally, invest in high-quality moisturizing products for your ends. This will keep them hydrated and less prone to breakage. Argan oil is a popular ingredient in hair oils and masks because it can lock in moisture better than many other types of oil. An argan oil mask on your hair once or twice a week will do wonders for your ends.