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How to Remove and Prevent Split Ends

Four Parts:Removing Split EndsWashing, Drying, and Brushing for Healthy HairProtecting Your HairAvoiding Damage

Magic solutions that make all your split ends vanish are just a temporary trick, and won't halt ongoing damage. To remove them permanently, you'll need to cut them off. However, there are a hundred ways you can prevent them happening again. Try them out for healthy, soft hair.

Part 1
Removing Split Ends

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    Check for damaged hair. Closely examine your hair with the help of a mirror and good lighting. Split ends occur most often at the tip, but can show up anywhere in your hair. Split ends and related damage can occur in several different forms. If you find any of the following, remove them using the instructions below:
    • Hair tips splitting into two or more strands
    • A hole in the middle of your hair (more visible if you bunch up the strand)
    • White dots at the end of your hair
    • Single strand knots (more common in dry, curly hair)
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    Trim them yourself. If you're not due for a full haircut, take care of the split ends yourself. Trim them off using a small pair of hair shears, since scissors can fray your hair and lead to more split ends. Cut single strands about ¼" (6mm) above the split. If you cut too close to the damage, the split may reappear.
    • Some splits form a small ball directly above the damage. Make sure to cut above this.
    • This can take a long time, especially for thick or damaged hair. However, you'll get to keep the full length of your hair.
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    Cut your hair regularly. A hairdresser can always trim off split ends, but will usually remove about 14 to 1 inch (0.6 to 2.5 cm) of your hair along with them. Eventually, all hair will wear out enough to require this treatment. How long you wait between haircuts depends on your hair type, hair health, and how much time you're willing to spend hunting down your own split ends. This can be anywhere from six weeks to six months.
    • If you aren't trimming split ends yourself, avoiding the hairdresser will not save your long hair. Neglected split ends will become weaker and weaker, eventually breaking off.
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    Take steps to save hair length. If trimming off split ends are affecting your hair length goals, consider having your hair cut into layers. Ask the hairdresser to trim damaged hair in the surface layer, while leaving lower layers — and length intact. If you have afro-textured hair, a mild texturizer can achieve a similar effect, allowing you to manipulate your hair more easily and avoid trimming healthy hair.
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    Treat hair repair products with caution. There are conditioners and other commercial treatments that claim to "heal" split ends. These seal the split ends shut to hide them from view, but the damage is still there. You can use these as a temporary fix, but relying on them long-term may lead to worse damage.
    • These products may help prevent future damage to otherwise healthy hair.

Part 2
Washing, Drying, and Brushing for Healthy Hair

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    Apply shampoo carefully. Too much shampoo can strip away healthy oils, leaving your hair vulnerable to damage. Follow these tips to find a regimen that minimizes split ends:
    • Wash your hair no more than three times per week (or less often if you have thick curls or afro-textured hair.)
    • Wash only your scalp and the hair nearest to it. Leave the rest of your hair down. It should receive enough washing from the shampoo that runs down on its own.
    • Hot water strips away protective oils, so rinse your hair with the coolest water you can stand.
    • If your hair still splits rapidly, try a different, milder shampoo. Avoid shampoos with sulfate or paraben.
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    Use conditioner. After shampooing, apply conditioner along the length of your hair. Let it soak at least three minutes before you rinse it out.
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    Dry hair gently. Vigorously rubbing your hair dry with a towel is not a good idea. Instead, gently squeeze dripping wet hair with a towel to remove excess water. Once the excess water is removed, let your hair air dry naturally.
    • If you need to speed up the drying, use a blow dryer on a medium or low setting, preferably set to blow cool air. Hold it a few inches (several centimeters) away from your hair to minimize damage.
    • If you normally wrap your hair in a towel, try a cotton T-shirt instead.
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    Deep condition regularly. If your conditioner regimen isn't working, try a "deep condition" once or twice a month. This involves putting a leave-in conditioner or oil on your hair and leaving it in for a while. Oils like jojoba and coconut oil are fantastic for this. Here's an example regimen:
    • Get your hair nice and wet
    • Drop a coin-sized amount of deep conditioner or oil on your palm. Use a dollop the size of an American dime for hair below shoulder length, up to a quarter+ for hair that reaches your waist.
    • Rub it through your hair.
    • Let it sit five minutes, or ten minutes for very damaged hair.
    • Rinse out with cold water.
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    Find a gentle comb or brush. Your brush or comb should aid you in untangling your hair, not pulling it out. The best option for people with thick hair is a wide-toothed, wooden comb or pick. People with thin hair may use a narrow-toothed, wooden comb or a brush with boar bristles or another flexible, natural bristle.
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    Brush or comb gently. Start at the bottom and work your way up. When you encounter a tangle, stop and untangle it with your fingers before you continue brushing.
    • Stop teasing or back combing your hair. This pulls up the scales of your hair, making it easy to break them off.
    • Do not brush more than necessary. Once the brush or comb runs through your hair without obstruction, you're done.
    • Hair is very fragile when wet. Brush it only when dry, unless you have very thick, curly hair that can only be brushed wet.

Part 3
Protecting Your Hair

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    Protect your hair while sleeping. Sleep with your hair in a braid or bun to help prevent tangles and breakage. A sleep cap or a satin pillowcase may help as well.
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    Eat a balanced diet. Make sure to eat the recommended amounts of vitamins and protein to ensure that your body produces the healthiest hair possible. Healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids can also help keep your hair whole and shiny.
    • Vitamin E is particularly useful. Vitamin E can be found in many foods, such as nuts, seeds, avocado, vegetable oils, some leafy greens, and some fish.
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    Oil your hair for protection. Use a nutrient-rich oil such as almond oil, argan oil, egg oil, castor oil, or extra-virgin olive oil. This can lubricate the hair shaft, preventing it from splitting. Oil up to twice a week, leave it on overnight under a cap, and wash off in the morning.
    • Avoid products that contain paraffin or kerosene, which cause drying.
    • Apply oil to the middle and ends of your hair. Applying oil near the scalp can cause a buildup of dandruff or damage the roots.
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    Use hair friendly accessories. Tight, elastic bands or any bands with metal parts can damage hair, especially if left in for a long time. Scrunchies and ribbons treat your hair more gently.
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    Apply a hair mask. A hair mask once every one or two weeks can help keep your hair healthy, moisturized, and damage-free. Leave it on for thirty minutes, everywhere except near your scalp.
    • Try mixing your own out of olive oil, honey, and conditioner.

Part 4
Avoiding Damage

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    Protect your hair from heat. Heat denatures the keratins (proteins) of the hair shaft weakening it and making it prone to split ends. Heat treatments are a major cause of damage and split ends. This includes hot blow drying, heat styling, straightening and curling through heat, and steam treatments. If you do use these treatments, take these precautions:
    • Do not straighten or use other high-heat treatments more often than once every two weeks, or preferably once a month.
    • Look for irons or other tools that allow for exact temperature control. Keep them set to below 356ºF (180ºC).
    • Let hair stylists know that you prefer low-heat treatments.
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    Protect your hair before swimming in a pool, ocean, or lake. Consider applying a special pre-swimming moisturizer product. Alternatively, use a leave-in conditioner, oil your hair, and/or wear a swim cap. Rinsing your hair thoroughly before swimming may reduce its absorption of harmful chemicals. Be sure to rinse and shampoo your hair as soon as possible after swimming.
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    Wash with gentle water. If you have delicate hair, minerals or chlorine in your water can damage your hair. Consider a water softening system if your local water is "hard" and contains high levels of calcium carbonate. Use a filtration system to remove chlorine if necessary in your area.
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    Protect your hair from the sun. Ultraviolet rays can be as damaging to your hair as your skin. Wear your hair in a bun underneath a hat, or use leave-in sunscreen conditioner
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    Reduce reliance on hair products. Hair dyes and bleach are particularly damaging, but any product has the chance to wear out your hair. Try to use them only when necessary, and your hair may stay healthy for much longer.


  • Drink plenty of water to keep your hair healthy.
  • Don't pull apart your split ends. It'll only make them worse.
  • Don't brush your hair roughly; brush slowly and smoothly.
  • Don't rush through brushing your hair. Start at the ends and carefully loosen knots. Then, work your way up.
  • Do not bleach your hair frequently, as it will cause hair damage.
  • After taking a shower, avoid wrapping your hair up in a towel on the top of your head. This damages your hair.
  • Try using a wide tooth comb to comb out your hair.
  • Use almond oil once a week.
  • Some people lighten their hair with honey. This only has a small effect, but it's much less damaging than a commercial hair dye.
  • Apple cider vinegar may help after excessive use of hair products.
  • Applying Castor Oil at night and having a hair wash the next morning also helps a lot.
  • Instead of a traditional towel to dry your hair, use a paper towel to minimize damage to your hair. If wanted.


  • Never tighten a ponytail by dividing it into two sections and pulling them apart. This is equivalent to back brushing, and can cause significant damage.[citation needed]

Things You'll Need

  • Regular hair trims
  • Weekly hair mask
  • Conditioner
  • Leave in conditioner and hair detangler
  • Wide-toothed comb
  • Proper hairbands (if used)
  • Pair of hair scissors

Sources and Citations

Article Info

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