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What Causes Split Ends? [Facts + Solutions]

What Causes Split Ends?

Dry and damaged ends are becoming more and more common in hair. It’s more like a nightmare we want to wake up from. You may ask yourself what causes split ends.

If this is your case asking yourself this question is a good one. Knowing the answer can help you know where the problem comes from so you can take action to correct it.

The main things that cause split ends are chemical damage, heat damage, and dryness or malnutrition. Malnutrition in the hair creates more porosity and causes the cuticles to rise in search of nourishment and lubrication. When this happens there is more friction between them and this layer starts to get more damaged. This lack of nutrients causes the ends to split open when left unattended.

On the other hand, the different forms of split ends can appear suddenly or gradually. The signs when this happens are that the hair feels harder, that it gets more tangled at the ends, or when brushing you notice knots.

In this article I will tell you what may be causing them so you can repair them.

 what causes split ends in hair?

Different reasons can be what causes split ends. Some are due to the hair lacking certain nutrients naturally. Others are due to having lost those same nutrients or capabilities due to external agents. 

The most common answer to what causes split ends is damage to the outermost layer of the hair called the cuticle. The cuticles that surround the hair have been lifted and worn away. That’s why you see a split at the tip. In fact, the first thing you will see is a small white dot at the tip. This marks where a deeper layer of cuticles has been exposed. 

The hair thins until it breaks off. Split ends are the step before this happens. That’s why once they appear you need to address them immediately to stop the damage. 

It is a fact that if you have split ends your hair is already in the damage category and not just What Causes Frizz. Yes, frizz can indeed lead to split ends but once you have them you have to repair them because they are damaged. 

The damage to these cuticles can come from different habits or actions to the hair and below I will detail the main ones.

 what are the main reasons that cause split ends?

There are different ways that cause split ends. Knowing them can help you know why they appear and more importantly how to fix them. The solution will be very simple because the damage has already been done, however, it can help prevent it in the future.

You may think that you are not interested in prevention but I must tell you that it is one of the most important things because if you repair your hair and you go back to bad habits, it will reappear immediately making a never-ending chain. The most common thing that happens is that if you don’t know the cause and you don’t change it you will always have split ends or worse breakage.

That is why I will separate the main causes of split ends:

  • Dryness
  • Heat damage 
  • Chemical damage 
  • Aggressive brushing 

Knowing this you will be sure what is causing them. The most important thing is that you take action to fix them as soon as possible. Depending on what caused it you can have different levels of split ends and each one depending on how long it has been there will have a different appearance. What Do Split Ends Look Like depending on how deep the damage is and what caused it? 

Below I will give you the details of each of these main causes.

#1 Dryness

The main cause of split ends is dry hair. As I mentioned before the hair has a layer that protects it. This layer is made up of cuticles that need to be lubricated and nourished to keep them sealed around the hair.

It is like armor formed by small scales each one placed on top of the other doing teamwork. When they lack that lubrication and nutrient they begin to open up. When they open up they expose another thinner layer of hair and that is why you see that thinned look at the tip. It’s like a candle that has a thinner wick. This just generates that if you don’t take care of it, it keeps going up and there is breakage.

#2 Heat damage

Direct heat generates accelerated drying in the hair which produces the same drying effect. In this case, it is extremely aggressive and can cause more than one split end. A clear example is a split end in the shape of a candle or Tree Split Ends.

The number of times you use these heat tools in a week has a big influence. You should use them sparingly and no more than twice a week to give the hair time to regain the lubrication it needs to avoid drying out.

When the ideal temperature is exceeded when using a flat iron, heat tools, and curling irons are damaged. That’s why it’s important not to exceed 180 degrees and to be careful with the number of times you run it through your hair. Also, make sure your hair is free of moisture and completely dry.

#3 Chemical damage

Chemicals can be very aggressive in the way they work. Certain chemicals cause this effect when used incorrectly. For example, bleaching, flat irons, perms, and even shampoos all contribute to wearing down and weakening cuticles. Not only are they aggressive, but the reaction they create inside the hair weakens it.

Our hair is chemical inside and has bonds and bridges that give it its shape and strength. When those bonds are destroyed we will notice it immediately.

When the chemicals that do this take away specific nutrients they create gaps in those bonds that will translate into the split ends we see. Bleaching Your Hair Damage It tends to dry and weaken the hair because it takes away nutrients by lightening the melanin and removing the proteins that are in the cortex itself.

Chlorine in bleached hair can damage the hair immediately if it is very weakened. Chlorine is found in swimming pools and is made from salt and is used along with hypochlorite which reacts and creates a very powerful oxidizer.

Also, when hair is permed, what happens is that the disulfide points of the hair are broken to create a new shape. Perms damage the hair by breaking its structure, the hair will always be weakened as it will lose its natural strength. But like any chemical, the level of damage will depend on how aggressive the perm was, the products used and the condition of your hair.

#4 Aggressive brushing

Brushing can be the cause of split ends because if done aggressively it can hurt. This aggressive tugging with the brush can weaken the outer layer of the hair and even break it. When this happens split ends can appear. The outer layer of the hair is quite sensitive and very aggressive brushing can weaken it.

Another important reason is that your brush is very old. The plastic bristles may be pitted or have small cracks due to wear and tear from temperature or time. When this happens the brush itself will be scraping the entire outer layer and if it gets stuck between them you will be doing a lot of damage to it. This is why it can be lifted immediately.


The solutions to all these causes depend on the level of damage. To recognize each one you must analyze the causes from which they originate. Here we will provide you with the most feasible and effective solutions for most cases. If you have any doubts you can send me an email and additionally always consult your trusted stylist.

My professional recommendation and my personal favorite are to use Kerastase Therapiste Serum which is great for split ends and repairs them and you can immediately feel the change in the texture and feel of your hair. As the days go by you will feel it improve. At any level, this serum is a wild card that you can always use because it is wonderful. Personally, it has helped me whenever there are split ends for any of the reasons I have listed above. Plus I have seen it work for many different clients when used in conjunction with a professional wash and condition routine.

The way to apply it is a little push on all ends. It is a repair serum with a lot of protein to give strength and recover split ends. Apply it only on the ends which are the last 5cm of the hair. You can use it several times a day and daily on wet or dry hair.

Additionally, You Can Use This:

A product you can use as a mid-level product that works well for any hair after bleaching is Kerastase Force Architect. This family of shampoos and masks restores strength to hair while leaving it soft and manageable. It is recommended for anyone who has bleached their hair. It should be used for at least 1 month and washed a maximum of 3 times per week. Ideally twice.

For more severe damage such as tree split ends, I recommend the Kerastase Therapiste kit because it gives very good results if used correctly and used routinely. This is only recommended when the damage has been caused by chemicals because the hair will need protein to restore strength.

Proteins must get into the cortex so that they can reinforce the chains and bonds that make the hair strong and united. You can use it until your hair starts to feel a little stiff and then switch to the Treatment For Dry Hair which will provide lubrication and lipids to complement this feeling.


Some extra points like a bad haircut with a bad tool can also contribute to split ends. The important thing is to take care of them as soon as they appear so I highly recommend you to see What To Do After Bleaching Hair where you can see some tips to take care of your hair, especially for chemical damage.

Also, remember to avoid heat tools while styling your hair, and don’t do it too often. If you take care of your hair habits and do it with good products. Then you will be able to cure split ends and prevent them from coming back.

I hope this information has helped you and you can recover your hair as soon as possible.
Best of luck, see you next time.