What Causes Split Ends & How to treat them

If you’re someone who’s struggled with split ends, then you know just how frustrating and difficult they can be to deal with. Split ends are the result of hair damage that causes the ends of your hair strands to break apart, which can lead to a host of other hair issues like frizz, tangles, and even more breakage. But what causes split ends, and what can you do to prevent them from happening in the first place? 

If you have split ends, keep reading to learn more about the science behind this issue and explore some practical solutions for keeping your hair healthy, strong, and free of split ends.

What Causes Them Split Ends?

Split ends, scientifically known as trichoptilosis, occur when the protective outer layer of your hair (known as the cuticle) becomes damaged or stripped away. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

Heat Damage

One of the most common causes of split ends is heat damage, which occurs when you use hot styling tools like flat irons, curling irons, or hair dryers on high heat settings. When your hair is exposed to high temperatures, it can cause the proteins in your hair to break down, leading to weakened strands that are more prone to splitting.

Chemical Damage

Chemical treatments like hair coloring, perming, and relaxing can also contribute to split ends by damaging the cuticle layer of your hair. Chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide can strip away the natural oils and moisture in your hair, leaving it dry, brittle, and more susceptible to breakage.

Mechanical Damage

Mechanical damage refers to any type of physical stress or trauma that your hair is exposed to, such as brushing too hard, using tight hair ties or hair accessories, or simply rubbing your hair vigorously with a towel. Over time, these actions can cause the cuticle layer of your hair to wear away, leading to split ends and other types of damage.

Environmental Damage

Environmental factors like sun exposure, pollution, and harsh weather conditions can also contribute to split ends by drying out your hair and damaging its protective layer. UV rays from the sun, for example, can break down the proteins in your hair and lead to discoloration, while pollutants in the air can build up on your scalp and hair, clogging your pores and causing damage.

can split ends be repaired?

Unfortunately, split ends cannot be repaired. They are damaged hair shafts that have split or frayed at the ends. Once a hair shaft splits, there is no way to put it back together. The only way to get rid of split ends is to trim them off. This will remove the damaged hair and help to prevent the split ends from traveling up the hair shaft. Aim to get a trim every 6-8 weeks, or more often if you have dry or damaged hair.

There are a number of products on the market that claim to be able to repair split ends. However, these products are only able to temporarily seal the split ends together. They cannot actually repair the damaged hair shaft.

 A recent trend for addressing split ends is known as velaterapia or candle cutting, which gained attention when supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio shared an Instagram picture of her stylist using a candle on her hair. In this process, a section of hair is twisted and gently burned with a lit candle, with the idea that it seals the ends to prevent further splitting. 

However, some hair experts express concerns that this method may potentially exacerbate split ends or harm hair follicles. If you’re interested in trying candle cutting, it’s crucial to consult an experienced professional, as attempting it on your own could lead to hair or skin damage.

How to Prevent Split Ends: Tips and Tricks

“Split ends are a common problem that can affect people of all ages,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “There is no way to repair split ends, but there are things you can do to prevent them and reduce their appearance.”

Limit Your Use of Heat Styling Tools

One of the easiest ways to prevent split ends is to limit your use of heat styling tools like flat irons and curling irons. If you must use these tools, be sure to use a heat protectant spray or cream beforehand, which can help to minimize the damage caused by high temperatures.

Be Gentle When Brushing

Another important tip is to be gentle when brushing or combing your hair, especially when it’s wet. Wet hair is more vulnerable to damage, so be sure to use a wide-toothed comb or brush designed specifically for detangling to minimize breakage.

Avoid Tight Hair Accessories

Tight hair ties, headbands, and other accessories can put stress on your hair and lead to breakage and split ends. Try to opt for looser styles or use gentler accessories like scrunchies or hair clips instead.

Regular Trims

The most effective way to address split ends is by scheduling regular trims with a professional hairstylist. This practice involves cutting off the damaged ends, preventing the splits from advancing further up the hair shaft. It’s recommended to trim your hair every 6-8 weeks, but you might need more frequent trims if your hair is particularly dry or damaged.

Leave-In Conditioner

To maintain moisture and protect your hair from further damage, incorporate a leave-in conditioner into your hair care routine. After washing your hair, apply a leave-in conditioner to damp hair, paying extra attention to the ends. This helps to prevent the formation of new split ends and keeps your hair well-hydrated.

Deep Conditioning Treatments

Invest in deep conditioning treatments to nourish and repair your hair. Using these treatments once a week, or more often for dry or damaged hair, can help prevent split ends from developing. Deep conditioners provide essential nutrients, strengthen your hair, and make it more resistant to breakage.

Healthy Diet

Your diet plays a significant role in the health of your hair. Consuming a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly biotin (B7), can promote overall hair health. Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet, and consider taking a biotin supplement if needed. Proper nutrition contributes to stronger hair that’s less prone to split ends.

Protect Your Hair from the Elements

Be sure to protect your hair from environmental factors like sun exposure and harsh weather conditions. Wear a hat or scarf when spending time outside, and use hair products with built-in UV protection to shield your hair from the sun’s harmful rays.

does split ends cause hair loss?

No, split ends do not cause hair loss. Split ends are a type of hair damage that occurs when the outer layer of the hair shaft (the cuticle) splits or frays. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including heat styling, over-brushing, and sun exposure.

Hair loss, on the other hand, is a condition in which hair falls out from the follicle. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, hormonal changes, and medical conditions.

While split ends can make hair look thinner, they do not actually cause hair to fall out. Split ends can only travel up the hair shaft, not down to the follicle.

If you are concerned about hair loss, it is important to talk to your doctor or dermatologist. They can help to determine the underlying cause of your hair loss and recommend treatment options.


  1. How often should I trim my hair to prevent split ends? It’s generally recommended to trim your hair every 6-8 weeks, but the frequency may vary based on your hair’s condition and how quickly it grows. If you notice split ends or your hair is prone to damage, more frequent trims may be necessary.
  2. Are there products that can temporarily hide split ends? Yes, some products, such as serums and hair oils, can temporarily mask the appearance of split ends by providing a smoother texture. However, these are not permanent solutions and won’t repair the damage.
  3. Can split ends affect hair growth? Split ends can impede hair growth indirectly by causing breakage, which can make your hair appear shorter or thinner than it actually is. Regular trims and proper care can help maintain healthy hair and support growth.
  4. Do split ends affect all hair types equally? Split ends can affect all hair types, but they may be more noticeable in certain hair textures, such as fine or curly hair. Coarser hair types may have fewer visible split ends due to the hair’s thickness.
  5. Are there any home remedies for split ends? While home remedies like DIY hair masks with ingredients like coconut oil, honey, or avocado can provide temporary moisture and improve the appearance of split ends, they do not repair the damage permanently. The most effective way to treat split ends is still to trim them.

Final Takeaway

Split ends can be a frustrating and challenging issue to deal with, but with the right knowledge and approach, you can take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place. By understanding what causes split ends and implementing some simple preventative measures, you can keep your hair healthy, strong, and free of damage.

Remember to limit your use of heat styling tools, be gentle when brushing or combing your hair, avoid tight accessories, and protect your hair from environmental factors. With these tips and tricks in mind, you can enjoy healthy, beautiful hair that’s free of split ends and other types of damage.