Although there is no way to make split ends vanish forever, there are ways to decrease the recurrence of split ends. There are different variations of split ends; therefore, naturals are forced to take various measures to protect there strands. As a victim of split ends, I am aware that my past negligent behavior was the cause of the severity of my split ends. It was not until I researched and studied the nature of type 4 hair, that I learned the proper techniques to take care of my hair. Upon learning that split ends are a "chronic" issue, I decided to take the necessary precautions to reduce them at all cost.
If you struggle with split ends, just know that you are not alone. Everyone has to deal with them and are not exempt. Split ends occur from harmful hair practices, such as: lack of moisture, lack of trims, protein deficiency, friction, harsh chemicals, heat styling, and the list goes on. If you are guilty of any of these wrong-doings, STOP NOW. I have kept a log of the different methods that have helped me reduce split ends; in a journal, and on the Kultured Kurlz Instagram and Facebook page. There are a total of seven methods that I live by:
1. FINGER DETANGLING
Not only is finger detangling a smart option for all hair types, but it is the healthiest option for type 4 hair. Due to the nature of type 4 hair, combs will rip right through the kinks and coils without considering that there might have been a knot that needed to be hand removed. Combs are inanimate objects that cannot feel what your hands can. If you come across a knot or tangle, take the time to remove that knot or tangle, carefully and slowly. Hair is very delicate and becomes more susceptible to damage at weak points; hair often breaks off at the point where knots meet. Took make finger detangling easier, most naturals use coconut oil, which has been known in the natural hair community as a detangling staple product. Naturals who are allergic to coconut oil; however, may opt for detangling sprays or creams.
2. PRE-WASHING (PRE-POO)
Pre-washing whether you love it or hate it, makes wash day simpler if you dislike tangles. I often combine my pre-poo session with detangling because it makes both processes go by faster. Who does not like "2 in 1" methods? Pre-washing increases manageability and softens the hair, which is the two key elements you need to safely detangle your hair. This method is also your chance to prevent and protect your hair against "Lower hygral fatigue;" best described as moisture overload. Aside from increased manageability and softness, pre-washing also provides moisture and reduces breakage.
3. PROTEIN TREATMENTS
Protein is such a touchy topic for some naturals, especially those with low porosity hair. How to do a protein treatment and why are the two main questions naturals ask on Instagram. Protein keeps hair strong during every phase of the hair cycle. Strength is not the only thing protein is capable of however; protein provides hair with flexibility and elasticity as well. Without strength, flexibility, and elasticity, hair would snap at every twist, pull, and tuck. It is recommended that protein treatments are done every 4-6 weeks. Although that is recommended, 4-6 may be to soon for your hair; you do not want to fall victim to protein overload, do you? If your hair is showing signs of excessive shedding, lifelessness, and constant breakage, your hair is in need of protein.
For those with low porosity hair, protein treatments may be harmful so it is best to use protein only when you are sure that you hair is in need of it. For me, I prefer to do a D.I.Y treatment instead of purchasing commercial brands; therefore, I can use ingredients that I know are safe for my low porosity hair. If you are a part of the low porosity group and want to create your own treatments, check out our blog on D.I.Y protein treatments. If you have high porosity hair, protein is extremely important. Not only does moisture escape from your highly porous hair, but so does protein. Also high porosity hair is extremely susceptible to lower hygral fatigue; protein will keep the hair strong and decrease breakage.
4. TRIM HAIR
If the thought of scissors coming close to your hair makes you cringe, you are not going to like this part of the blog very much. Split ends do not mend themselves, they need to be cut off. We all know about that scissor happy stylist that does not just clip the ends, but they also chop off inches of your hair. It is heartbreaking, but hair grows back nonetheless. Some of us love to hold on to every inch of hair, even if it is damaged, and do length checks everyday in hopes that it grew overnight.
There are various types of split ends, but all of them can be taken care of in the same manner; with a good pair of sharp hair shears. As I mentioned earlier, split ends do not mend themselves and they do not continue to split up the hair shaft like many naturals think. Untreated split ends break off, and when they do, they leave unclean ends behind. Those unclean ends split and the pattern continues until there is no hair left to split and break. It is recommended that hair be trimmed every 12-16 weeks or 3-4 months; however, in between trims, some naturals prefer to do the "search n destroy" method. This method consist of going through your hair and looking for split ends and single strand knots, and cutting them off. Remember, split ends do not mend themselves, they will break until there is nothing left.
5. DEEP CONDITION
To deep condition or to not deep condition, this should not be a question in anyone's mind. Yet, so many naturals skip this part of their hair routine because there is this misconception that conditioning and deep conditioning are the same. Conditioners or "daily conditioners" are meant to be your hair's first line of moisture after shampooing. Daily conditioners provide a protective absorption layer to the cuticle which is needed to prepare the cuticle to absorb deep penetrative moisture that deep conditioners provide. It seems one product cannot thrive without the other, this is reaching; but if you look at this way consistently, you will be less likely to skip either step. Deep conditioners have very specific ingredients that are structured to target weak points in the hair cuticle. Those ingredients will temporarily mend damaged areas, but permanent fixes must be done in order to keep problems from getting worse.
When it comes to split ends, deep conditioning can make them occur less frequently because moisturized hair is less likely to split. It is recommended that deep conditioners are applied no less than once a month, although if you are a type 4 sista, you should deep condition regularly to combat the excessive dryness that type 4 hair is prone to. Once a week for 30-45 minutes with heat is my recommendation for those with low porosity hair. You are welcome to leave it on longer, but be aware that you may put yourself at risk for lower hygral fatigue. To decrease your chances at causing moisture overload or lower hygral fatigue, apply coconut oil as a part of a pre-poo treatment. Coconut oil has properties that protect the cuticle from absorbing and expelling too much water.
6. KEEP HAIR HYDRATED, MOISTURIZED, AND SEALED (H.M.S).
Most of us are guilty of letting our hair become very dry during the week before we moisturize again. I am guilty of doing this, I will admit it. If you want to decrease the frequency of split ends, you need to keep your hair moisturized because dry hair SPLITS! Before moisturizing, you must hydrate your hair with water. By definition, to hydrate means "cause to absorb water." If you want moisturizers to be properly absorbed, you need to hydrate your hair first. If you do not know this by now, all of your moisturizing products should have water as the first ingredient. Think about this, would you apply shampoo without saturating your hair with water first? The most common methods that naturals practice are the "L.O.C Method" (Liquid Oil Cream) or L.C.O Method (Liquid Cream Oil). I have noticed that the L.C.O method works best for low porosity hair, but everyone prefers different methods and not all hair is created equal. To H.M.S daily or every other day, is to minimize dryness, breakage, and split ends. You can decide which products work best for your hair; be prepared to make adjustments during each season to accommodate your hairs seasonal needs.
7. PROTECTIVE STYLING
One of the best parts about being natural is the versatility. To be able to alternate between an Angela Davis fro, straight hair, Poetic Justice Braids, etc is #BlackGirlMagic. I consider myself to be a lazy natural and protective styles let me get away with it. Protective styles cause for low manipulation and is one of the keys to length and moisture retention. Although, protective styling is ideal, it can also have some negative side effects. Wearing too tight protective styles can be counterproductive because they cause too much stress on your edges and your crown; this harsh treatment eventually causes breakage in both areas. It is also important to give your strands a rest between each style to allow your hair to breath and relax. During protective styles, there is less friction on the ends of your hair, which means less breakage and split ends. Be sure to take care of your hair during protective styles. Keeping your scalp clean, moisturized, and healthy is very important for hair growth; weekly cleaning with gentle cleansers will do the trick. Find your favorite oil/ oil mix to keep your scalp well oiled. My personal favorites are avocado and jojoba oil because they improve scalp health, treats dry itchy and scalp, and prevents dandruff.
HOW DO ALL SEVEN TIPS COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER?
All seven tips go hand in hand and work well together. This regimen is designed to be practiced consistently to see results; with the exception of trims and protein treatments. Weekly or bi-weekly, I highly recommend that naturals pre-poo, finger detangle, deep condition, keep hair H.M.S, and protective style. This is especially true, if you want to decrease split ends and retain moisture and length. Patience is key and change does not happen overnight. Stay consistent, trust the process, and document your journey to fewer split ends. Split ends are chronic, which means "constantly recurring," everyone gets them and no one is exempt.