Fact or Fiction: Chopping Off Your Split Ends
Does cutting off your split ends really help your hair grow?
Coming to you from my bed, watching Netflix, with my hair wrapped in a towel, is my very first article for Vocal.
Okay so, I know most of you guys have heard something similar to, “If you want your hair to grow faster, you need to keep your split ends trimmed”.
And in response, I’m sure a lot of you have asked yourself, “Is that really the secret to long, healthy hair? How often do I need to cut them? Does it even work?”
I believe the reason many people think this is a myth is because they’re aware of the fact that hair grows at the roots, not the ends. They probably wonder, “How does cutting the ends make it grow faster if it grows from the scalp?”
Well, I’m here to break it down and explain how it DOES work, and why. First, though, I’m going to give a brief explanation about what split ends are, what causes them, and how products claiming to restore split ends don’t really work.
Trichoptilosis is the medical term for the condition known as split or dead ends. The word has Greek and Latin origins, and is used to describe the fraying and “feathering” of the hair cuticle and shaft, giving your hair’s ends a torn, rough feel, while making them appear very thin and fragile.
Split ends are a natural part of life, and there’s no way to 100% prevent them. They’re caused by any number of things, including but not limited to chemical services (dyeing, perming, relaxing, etc.), heat styling, and exposure to the elements.
Dead Ends Under A Microscope
Now, it’s important to remember that your hair grows from the scalp, and not at the ends, when thinking about purchasing any beauty products. In this article, I will be specifically addressing the products on the market that are advertised to repair split ends.
The way these products work is to not actually fix the ends, but to glue them back together, so to speak. It does not solve your split end problems because none of these products are permanent. Your ends will end up re-fraying after you stop the use of those products. Think about it like a piece of paper. You can tape a torn piece together, and yes, it is able to be written on and is useable, but is it truly fixed? Will that tape hold forever?
Now onto the question you’re all thinking: What does any of that have to do with growing my hair out?
I’m glad you asked. Split ends are naturally very brittle and dry. What happens to dry, brittle things? They break.
Let’s say you’re trying to grow your hair out by eight inches, but the last inch of your hair is made up of dead ends.
As you go about your day-to-day life, your hair will be exposed to heat, wind, and pollution, including your already stressed split ends. These are the conditions that will cause your last inch of split ends to break off in pieces, leaving the very tips of your hair jagged and torn. So now you have nine inches to grow.
After about two months, you’ll have that one inch you lost back. However, all during that month, you’ve flat-ironed your hair every day, been to the beach, dyed it that gorgeous honey-blonde shade you found, and, once again, exposed it to the elements. Also, during that month, you did NOT get a hair trim. So now, that teeny, tiny, 1/16th of an inch frayed end has grown and grown to dry, brittle split ends once more. Now, you’re back where you started, with eight inches left to grow, and an inch of split ends. It’s a vicious cycle, that, luckily, is very easy to break.
As opposed to letting those dead ends break off on their own into jagged, misshapen hair strands, regular haircuts trims those ends into nice, straight lines, with no torn pieces. This makes it take longer for your split ends to form, since they don’t start off split in the first place.
Hair Cut With Shears Under A Microscope
Let me reiterate: Split ends are a part of life, but keeping your ends cut keeps them from tearing even more, like they would have if they’d broken off.
So, back to your one inch split ends. You have that inch cut off, you have nine inches to go. Two months pass, and you’ve grown that hair back. However, unlike last time, you only have about a quarter-inch worth of split ends, due to the last haircut evenly cutting your hair. Now, if you cut those ends off, you’re losing less than half as much length as you were before when you let your ends go wild. With every two months that passes, you’re only losing a quarter-inch of length versus losing one inch, meaning it’s getting longer hair, faster, because you’re losing less.
This is why they say keeping your ends cut makes it grow faster. You end up losing less hair as it grows in the long run.
I recommend that you go to the salon and get your ends trimmed at least every six to eight weeks, even if you only get a little bit taken off.
You can also take precautions to protect your hair from fraying by including them in your daily routine. Some example are:
-Use a good quality heat protectant spray before heat styling your hair to prevent burning your hair strand.
-Wear your hair in looser, freer styles instead of very tight buns or ponytails to avoid stressing the strands and breaking them.
-Be sure to use good quality hair care products for your hair type to avoid excess drying of your hair.
So in conclusion, breakage at the ends is one of the biggest causes of length loss in hair, and while keeping your ends trimmed does not make your hair grow stronger/better/faster from the root, it does keep your hair ends smooth to prevent that breakage. Haircuts coupled with quality products are what make up healthy, stress-free hair. Good hair care is self care, baby!