Mostly everyone has had to deal with split ends at one point or another in their lives. But for those of us who are locked in an internecine struggle with our frayed ends, constantly assaulted by fairy knots or besieged by bushy, straggly ends, I’m here to tell you – you may have lost your earlier battles, but you can turn the tide of war in your favor.
Here are some tips to help you conquer (well okay, manage) your splits so that they don’t enact guerilla warfare on your length retention (those damned fairies)!
TRIM YOUR ENDS
You’re probably laughing right now… so obvious, right? But we’re talking real military surveillance here. Yes, I mean the search and destroy method, where you literally seek out undercover strands lurking in your mane and pick them off ONE BY ONE. If your strands are various lengths in the bottom third or so of your hair shaft, you want to cut off however many inches are necessary to remove the splits at the highest point along the length. Of course, search and destroy is hard to do on one’s own, so you may need to recruit a partner who literally has got your back – you know, the places you can’t see. Offer to do the same for her. Soldiers on a mission have to stick together.
Of course you could also use a tool like the Split-Ender, which I use. It works by running each individual strand through the apparatus over an internal blade that snips off approximately 1/8 to ¼ of an inch of the hair. That way, each strand gets attention without having to worry about the different lengths of hair all over your heard. Be warned, your hair must be straight in order to run through the device, so if you don’t flatiron your hair or have naturally straight hair, this is not the tool for you. And a word of advice, if your ends are prone to getting really see through and straggly (guilty as charged), you might want to bite the bullet and get a traditional trim. Your hair will thank you for it in the long run (pun intended).
USE A PRODUCT FOR SPLIT ENDS
So the intelligence on split end menders is often conflicting, right? Brand propaganda tells us that their products can mend split ends, but those on the other side of the conflict say that’s MALARKEY (my new favorite word). Well, it turns out to be partially true. What is absolutely true is that the only thing that will PERMANENTLY correct a split hair is to trim it to keep it from continuing to split up the entire length of the shaft and do more damage. But what is also true is that there are some products that temporarily bind the ends together to keep the split from traveling as well. You just have to keep using them. So if you religiously baby your ends and use products that temporarily bind like the Nexxus Pro-Mend line, you can delay trimming your ends until you have acquired a little more length.
USE AN ACIDIC RINSE
Sounds like chemical warfare, and it kind of is. In the battle against hair porosity, which is a very close ally to split ends (porous hair is more prone to splits), making sure that we rinse our hair with a slightly acidic rinse will help to close the cuticle more tightly and prevent the scales from lifting, feeling rough and looking dull. And as we all know, it’s the rough hair that tangles more easily giving rise to fairy knot and split end ambushes. Apple Cider Vinegar rinses are popular, as are Black Tea Rinses, and there are countless others you can find on the web.
SUBDUE THE ENEMY
Keeping ends under wraps takes more than just keeping them tucked away. They need to actually be restrained, particularly if you’re a natural. I saw a great video on the web of a woman who took the bushy ends of her twists (maybe the last inch or so), moisturized and oiled them and then coiled them around one leg of a bobby pin several times until the ends were completely wrapped up. After she let the other side of the bobby pin close she then pinned the end up in her hair. When her hair dried, she had neat looking little ringlets, where there was once mischief and mayhem. And when ends are tied down, they can’t engage in covert ops with those pesky little fairies, and are less likely to tangle together at the ends when you are untwisting your hair. (I actually do this using the single-pronged, metal roller clips that you use to do roller sets. It gives ends a zig-zag, rather than a coiled effect, but they’re not comfortable to sleep in).
These are a few tips, products and tricks that will help you on your length retention journey. What are some of the strategies you have had to deploy in your war against split ends?