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Chronic Split Ends

Hello! First off I would like to thank you for your wonderful work, educating people on how to navigate any beauty department is a valiant cause. You are the unsung heroes of beauty shoppers everywhere!

Now, on to my issue. I am constantly trying to treat my hair well and help it stay healthy and strong. I aim to eat as healthy as possible, I've never dyed or bleached it, I don't use any heat products (hair dryer, straightener, curling iron, etc.), I use conditioning shampoo and conditioners that were recommended on this blog, I avoid brushing it when it's wet, and I try to tie my hair up as little as possible. Despite all of this, I constantly have split ends! I am trying to grow my hair back after cutting almost all of it off a year ago to try and start over since I straightened it in the past but now that it's growing back and is at shoulder length I am constantly finding split ends. Recently I even went to get a trim and have any split ends cut off but less than a week later I found split ends! What else can I do or what products and brands would you recommend I use to help win this battle?


  • edited March 2015
    That's the post I was talking about when I said I used conditioning shampoos and conditioners with the PEC tech. I'm currently using the Tresemme line that has it but I'm still having trouble. What else can I do? I was hoping to fix whatever might be causing the split ends to make my hair healthier, not just temporarily bind them together.
  • Lady_amare, if you have any of that old heat damage still accumulated on your ends, that might be the cause of your split ends.

    Also, you mention that you put your hair up as little as possible. That might be counterproductive, as the ends are exposed when hair is worn down, and at shoulder length, your ends are likely to rub against fabric of your shirts, creating more friction and, in the long run, contributing to mechanical damage, split ends formation. It's best to gently contain and hide the ends from the elements in updos rather than constantly wear it down. Consider peacock twists held with claw-clips, for example, or French twists and other ways of putting hair up.

    Don't brush hair when wet, use a seamless wide-tooth comb instead. Generally, avoid excessive brushing and excessive washing.

    You might benefit from oiling or using silicone serums on your ends regularly, since they provide a bit of protection and elasticity.

    Also, I highly recommend sleeping on silk/satin pillowcases or any other smooth materials and/or wearing a silky sleepcap at night to avoid roughing up the hair cuticle from friction against pillow.
  • Thank you so much for all of your suggestions! I hadn't really considered claw clips until now but that's definitely something I will have to pick up next time I go shopping.

    I try to brush my hair as little as possible (without my hair looking too crazy of course) but I find that brushing it after I rinse shampoo out helps me make sure all of my hair and scalp get conditioner applied evenly.

    As far as oiling or other serums, I've read on here multiple times that coconut oil is really good for your hair but that it's best when it's in your hair for a few hours. A lot of people say they just have it in their hair overnight and then rinse it out when they shower the next morning but I take my showers at night so I don't know how else I could do that. Also, I've always been interested in serums, deep conditioners, and leave in conditioners but I don't know what ingredients are most effective and I haven't found much about them on here or any other cosmetic science based beauty blogs.

    Finally, I did read about the silk or satin pillowcases and it made sense to me when I read them but someone told me that was a myth and that they didn't really do anything to help. Is there any evidence that they're beneficial? Thank you again for your wonderful suggestions and thorough response!
  • As far as we've been able to determine, using silk pillow cases to stop wrinkles is a myth. But, if the slippery material can reduce friction it MAY help reduce split ends. I've never seen data on this though. 
  • Thank you, lady_amare!
    Great question about research into silk (or probably any smooth) pillowcases and sleep caps. If there is anything, I hope somebody can post it! :)

    There is just a lot of anecdotal evidence from those who sleep on silk/satin, you usually notice a big difference if your hair is long and/or curly/textured: hair is less tangled, dry or frizzy in the morning. Silk is a bit less absorbent than, say, cotton, so it doesn't soak up sebum or other oils as fast, but the biggest factor is simply its smoothness. I prefer smooth materials next to hair for the exact same reason I prefer snag-free, seamless combs - I want to avoid mechanical damage.
    Oh, and I wouldn't bother with expensive silk caps: you can just wrap a silk scarf around your pillow or your head to test if it works for you. :)

    You say you prefer brushing to apply conditioner evenly... Can a wide-tooth comb do that for you? It's just that brushing wet (and fragile!) hair invites a ton of potential mechanical damage right there. The bristles are set too close. It's just a very aggressive tool when hair is wet, stretchy and very fragile.

    Applying coconut oil overnight is good and was shown to reduce keratin loss during washing ( I haven't seen any studies into what it does if applied for shorter time - it doesn't mean it won't work, though. :) If you can only do it for an hour or so, it's still worth a shot, I don't see why some benefits can't be reaped this way. Coconut oil can be used as a leave-in too, of course.

    I would probably condition a lot and go for some products marketed for "damaged" or "processed" or "porous" hair, just because split ends are signs of damage. I really like protein "fillers", "reconstructors" with hydrolyzed proteins, though I haven't seen any scientific research into their effectiveness, I'm afraid. I think silicones are also very helpful, because they provide excellent slip and thus prevent some tangling.

    But nothing can permanently restore hair's integrity, obviously, since hair is dead matter, so it's all about preservation and damage avoidance.
  • Thank you again for your wonderful response meteor, I could honestly use all the help I can get right now because I am constantly shocked how split my hair becomes despite how hard I'm trying to help it. I think the other day I ran my fingers through my hair just to try and straighten it up a bit since it was windy outside and I later discovered a strand that fell out and was split in six different places! :(

    I believe it wouldn't hurt to give the silk pillowcases and wide tooth comb a trial run since I want to help my hair as much as possible. I definitely want to get some coconut oil since, but how would I go about using it as a leave in? As much as I love the book and movie, I don't want to go around looking like a greaser from The Outsiders.

    Also, is there any way to tell whether it would be more beneficial as a leave in or just as a pre-shower treatment? It seems that the longer it's in your hair the better but if I have to use less of it so my hair doesn't look greasy or oily from using it as a leave it would it be better to use more for a shorter period of time?

    As far as conditioning, I read the label on my current Tresemme Split Remedy shampoo and condition and it is supposed to have the PEC technology, but I still feel that it isn't doing as much as it could. Do you happen to have any other suggestions? I really would like a mild shampoo and a really good conditioner.
  • edited March 2015
    First about the PEC technology, it does look very good for temporarily sealing split ends (See study at J.Cosmet. Sci. - But a good long-term plan would be focused on preventing split end formation, as any patch-repair on dead matter like hair can only be temporary, as far as I know.

    Hair grows at an average rate of ~0.5'' a month, so, for example, if one stopped damaging practices (e.g. perms, relaxers, bleach, heat-styling, etc) 6 months ago, then only the first 3 inches from scalp would be virgin hair. I'm just giving this example to explain if you happen to have any old damage, it could still be contributing to new split ends because that hair's structural integrity is compromised. Those can only be grown out and trimmed away.

    If your hair is just naturally fine and fragile, then you might want to be a lot more careful with it than somebody with coarser hair. So when you gave an example of a windy day above, I'd recommend simply putting hair up and covering it with a hat/scarf to prevent really bad tangles. (Hair is fiber, so think of how a flag gets quickly frayed in the wind vs. a flag that's folded and kept in good condition away from the elements.)

    Coconut oil (and any oil) can be used as a leave-in the same way you'd use a silicone shine serum: a drop or two spread on palms of your hands and then spread over the length of hair, focusing on the ends.
    You can add a drop or two every other day on top of that, whenever your hair looks/feels dry-ish. If you overdo it, you can just put hair up to hide it or wash it off. Right before your wash, you can top up with even more oil as a deep treatment.

    But my biggest recommendation would be, of course, to lay off that brush when your hair is wet. Distributing conditioner well can be easily done with hands or wide-tooth comb.
    Unfortunately, most brushes I've seen have those plastic balls on bristles and snaggy areas that can be kind of rough on very fragile hair. A good-quality seamless wide-tooth comb would be much safer to use.
    Just in case, here are some studies on hair breakage during combing and brushing:

    Sorry I'm not giving any shampoo/conditioner suggestions, because it's pretty individual but also because I don't think that simple hygiene products like that make a huge difference on dead matter like hair, so very high-end and very cheap products can give equally great results - just try out different stuff and see what your hair likes the most. But in case of severe split ends (damage), I'd focus on conditioners with hydrolyzed proteins, silicones, oils, lipids called "ceramides" (More on this:, etc, and usually marketed for "damage "repair".
  • Excellent points, Meteor. Thanks!
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