Do split ends stop hair from growing?

You’ve probably had split ends before. It’s a dilemma each one of us will eventually face at least once in our lifetime. 

Everyone knows it’s somewhat bad, but sadly, it almost became the norm, especially for ladies who love trying out products and chemical processes. 

Among the possible consequences of split ends concerns hair growth. Do split ends stop hair from growing? If so, will trimming end the nightmare? 

What causes split ends?

You can spot a split end by looking at the tip of your hair and observing any forked or split hair strands. Primarily, they are split in half but sometimes in three. 

Split ends happen due to damage inflicted on the cuticle of your hair. 

A cuticle layer acts like a shield protecting the cortexthe part which gives hair its elasticity and strength

Once you damage this shield, you weaken the hair to the point of splitting and breaking. 

If you don’t let your hair breathe, you'll eventually get frizzy and unhealthy hair. Thinning is also on the horizon too! Yikes!

Most of the blame comes from your habits. But your environment, nutrition, and genetics can give you split ends. 

Personal Habits

A good routine starts from the shower! That is something you must keep in mind. 

  1. When you rub shampoo throughout your hair, you also expose the strands to daily wear and tear. Wet hair is very fragile, and putting friction on it daily makes it prone to splitting.
  2. Forgetting conditioner and hair masks leaves your hair less hydrated. A hair that’s dry likely gets tangled and knotted, which leads to further damage. 
  3. Physical damage from rough towels, elastic hair bands, hair extensions and weaves, and constantly sporting tight hairstyles such as a bun, braid, or ponytail contributes to the amount of split ends you’d have. Hair tools are culprits, too, e.g., curling irons and straighteners, especially when you use them often. Overbrushing, especially when your hair is still wet, is a great enemy of healthy hair. 
  4. Chemical damage from dyeing, perming, and relaxing leaves your hair less hydrated. Hair products that claim to be “long-lasting” may also build up on your scalp, which keeps your natural oils from moisturizing the hair. 

Other Factors

The sun and winter chill can both contribute to dryness. 

UV radiation from the sun may damage keratinthe protein responsible for the hair’s structure and shine— and ultimately lead to brittleness and split ends.

Lack of zinc, iron, and amino acids vital to hair growth can also lead to split ends. Nutritional deficiency can lessen the hair’s structural integrity. 

Moreover, inherent conditions may make you more susceptible to weakened hair. Hair disorders like Trichorrhexis nodosa and trichothiodystrophy can increase the damage sustained by your hair when you don’t follow a good hair routine. 

Types of Split Ends

There are multiple types of split ends. Some say it’s five types, and some list up to sixteen. 

Among these types, baby splits are the most common, where you can find a tiny break at the tip. It can progress into a more distinctive splitting of two parts, the Y-split. 

Some ends become tapered as hair thins out at the end. Worse, it may split multiple times like a tree or a feather.  

Split ends don’t merely show at the tips, albeit the name. The split can also occur mid-strand, where it looks like the eye of a needle. 

If you have baby splits, this signals that your hair needs more care due to previous damage. 

Y-splits are most likely due to mechanical damage, e.g., overbrushing. It’s not as detrimental as having multiple splits, which tells you that your hair’s severely hydrated and damage requires intense repair treatments. 

Can my hair still grow with split ends?

Split ends may look like a horror story unfolding, but there are as many myths as there are truths when it comes to them. 

One is worth debunking: hair growth does not stop because you have split ends.

While it certainly looks like your hair hit pause once you had gathered some split ends, hair grows healthy hair follicles. Hair grows about 0.3-0.4 millimeters every day or about six inches annually. 

Unless you have an underlying medical condition that weakens your follicles and makes your scalp susceptible to damage, hair growth does not technically stop. 

Split ends are your hair’s warning signs. If you insist on not hydrating enough, frequently using heat tools, and subjecting your hair to chemical stress, it’s likely to give up on you. 

FYI: 85% of the time, your hair is in the anagen or growing phase, so don’t worry about it stopping anytime soon!

However, in severe cases, the split ends occur so often that the hair shafts barely even have the time to grow before it cracks and breaks off. Hence, the misconception of never-growing hair gets perpetuated. 

If you have such a problem, your focus now should be on length retention. After all, this is what split ends prevent your hair from doing. 

Since you cannot tape split ends together, the goal is to eliminate and conceal them while undergoing reparative and hydrating treatment.

Foremost, you’d need to trim your split ends. Shocker! 

No matter how daunting the idea is of getting shorter hair, the only way to instantaneously solve a split-end problem is to trim it. Trimming the damaged ends ensures the damage does not travel to the roots, which can lead to further breakage. 

The more you expose your hair to chemicals and mechanical damage, the more you’ll need a trim. 

For those who bleach, color, or style their hair with hot tools, it’s best to trim every two months. Meanwhile, if you're less risky with your hair, you can cut it quarterly to avoid split ends. 

Always remember, your hair grows from the roots, not the tips. 

It will not stop growing even with split ends! But the best way to retain any length and volume is to cut dead ends. 

What happens to split ends if you don't cut them?

This doesn’t come as a surprise, but refusing to cut or trim your hair will only lead to more brittleness, dryness, and breakage. 

It starts as a baby split until the crack leads to the roots, and your hair breaks as soon as it grows! 

You can try micro-trims at first, where only 1/8th of the ends get trimmed. That way, you don’t have to feel rushed with saying goodbye to the length of your hair! 

Trimming is not the only way to fix split ends. You can try the following preventive/ remedial steps to guide your hair to a healthier version of itself. 

  1. Keep hair hydrated through hair masks and leave-in conditioners. If you want to go the DIY way, you can opt for a coconut oil treatment to boost moisture levels. 
  2. To retain moisture on the scalp, an apple cider vinegar rinse or a clarifying shampoo helps clear build-up from oil, dirt, and products. 
  3. Do not add mechanical stress to your hair, e.g., keep to styles that are loose rather than tight.  You can also switch to microfiber towels, practice air-drying, and not brushing while wet lessens friction against your strands. 
  4. Protect your hair with quality shampoos, conditioners, and heat protectants. The less harsh chemicals and heat coming for your strands, the healthier they will be. 

Meanwhile, you can try concealing your split ends with these tricks. 

  1. Dab a tiny amount of Vaseline at the ends of your hair to smoothen your split ends. Don’t forget that this is only a quick fix. So, like Cinderella, the fantasy doesn’t last. Shampoo and condition your ends well after this to eliminate residue.
  2. Olive, jojoba, and argan oils are your go-to’s if you don’t like Vaseline. These have well-researched places in hair treatments and will aid your hair’s restoration while concealing damage. 
  3. When desperate, rub a pea-sized lotion onto the length, especially the ends of your hair. Remember to wash it off thoroughly to prevent build-ups. 
  4. Sometimes, a hairstyle can do much more than make you feel confident. It can also hide your split ends! You can try a low bun, messy braids, and a chignon as a starter. 
  5. Take iron, biotin, and folic acid supplements to strengthen hair. Healthy hair comes from a good diet, so keep drinking that water and eating vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats!

Split ends do not mean the end of the world. But you can’t also brush them off and ignore them altogether. Again, they signal that you must act now while there is damage. 

Last Updated: January 14, 2023

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