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What causes split ends and how to avoid them?


Published on: 18 November 2022, 12:03 pm IST

Hair is a dead structure, a hard keratin generated within the skin by a hair follicle or hair root. A healthy hair structure consists of three primary layers: the outermost and toughest layer called cuticle, then comes the cortex, and the innermost and thinnest layer called medulla. The cuticle is protected by a thin layer of fatty acid, which moisturizes and decreases friction. Healthy hair needs protein, various minerals, and fatty acids to look lustrous, thick, and strong. Sometimes, split ends come in the way!

Split ends, or trichoptilosis, or simply fraying or breakage of hair are all the same thing, and it occurs when the hair shaft splits into one or two, primarily at the end of the shaft. Any damage or cracks in the outermost tough cuticle layer may allow the hair shaft to weaken, making it unable to endure mechanical stress and resulting in hair shaft breaking.

What exactly causes split ends?

Split ends are caused by changes in the structure of the hair shaft, which are primarily caused by two types of factors: external influences and internal factors.

split ends
What causes split ends? Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

External factors

1. Excessive heat damage: Sun exposure, blow dryers, and ironing destroy the natural moisture from your hair shaft, leaving it dry and damaged.
2. Excessive swimming: Chlorine damages the sebum or fatty acid layer of the hair shaft, removing the natural conditioning element.
3. Chemical treatments: Colouring agents and hard gels can penetrate the hair shaft, destroying the normal structure and causing hair breakage.
4. Pollution and free radicals: Hair suffers structural damage as a result of dust, pollution, and a lack of antioxidants.

Internal factors

1. Mineral deficiency: A lack of critical enzymes or trace minerals, such as zinc, magnesium, and iron, can cause hair shaft damage and disorder.
2. Hair shaft genetic disorders: Some genetic abnormalities cause defective hair shaft production from birth, resulting in brittle hair.
3. Protein deficit and poor hydration: Protein is the building block of hair shaft production, and protein deficiency directly causes hair breaking.

protein deficiency
Protein deficiency can cause to split ends. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

How to avoid split ends?

Keeping your hair shaft from drying out will benefit your hair the most. Weak hair requires a holistic approach that includes determining the likely reason for split ends before treating it. The majority of cases are caused by cosmetic abuse, which can be easily avoided by less heat and chemical damage, utilizing moisturizing and conditioning products, and enhancing the uptake of necessary minerals and vitamins.

You may also find certain home remedies useful, but we recommend that you seek assistance from your dermatologist, who will undoubtedly provide you with the best possible care for your hair and guidance.



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