Of all the curly hair issues that require consistent attention, split ends rank high on the list. They’re a concern that impact the look and overall health of every curl pattern. In addition to the frequent moisture management that curly hair requires, treating and checking for split ends should be a regular practice to keep curls from breaking and frizzing-up.
There are a number of reasons why split ends on curly hair happen. And while there are temporary solutions to help repair them, the ultimate goal is to eliminate them altogether. Managing split ends on curly hair requires some work and patience, but in the long run, getting damaged hair under control and nailing down how to fix split ends will make your strands look and feel a lot better.

What Causes Split Ends On Curly Hair?

Grab a few pieces of hair and take a close look at their ends under a light. You may notice little “Y” shaped pieces at the tips, unevenness that resembles a stem with branches coming off the sides, some hairs that look thinner or shorter than others, or a single hair that’s literally split down the middle. These are all signs of split ends, which can result from a number of styling practices, like excessive blow-drying and flat ironing. Using too much or too high of a heat setting can cause the hair to dry out. And in curly hair, that loss of moisture weakens each strand, making it brittle and susceptible to splitting. Even if you don’t heat style, hair porosity, simply not moisturizing enough, or using the wrong cleansers and stylers can lead to the same level of dryness and damaged hair as someone who does apply heat.

Certain chemicals used in color processes, like dyes and bleach, can also cause dryness. Additionally, alcohols in styling products and sulfates in shampoos are also culprits that can strip moisture from hair—and strand dehydration is one of several causes of split ends.

Another cause is sleeping on cotton pillowcases or sans a satin bonnet or scarf. The friction that occurs when your hair rubs against rough fabrics can leave hairs broken, especially at the tips of each strand, which are the oldest and often driest part of your hair.

Much like the friction caused by certain materials, a similar effect can result from improperly detangling and brushing curly hair. Raking through strands with the wrong tools or not knowing how to brush curly hair can be damaging. Ensuring that hair has the proper slip and moisture before taking a tool to it is the best way to avoid creating split ends. In addition, when possible, it’s best to avoid brushing dry curls altogether.

Is Curly Hair More Prone To Split Ends?

Curls, which are already prone to dryness, can fray at the ends more often than other textures, just because of how a strand coils. Natural textures are more vulnerable to splitting at the points where the strand curls. These bends are weaker than other parts of the hair and make it more difficult for natural hair oils to work their way down each hair strand.

How To Stop Getting Split Ends

Putting a stop to split ends may require some work upfront. This may sound a bit daunting, but all it takes are a few swaps in your natural hair care lineup and some styling shifts to get things under control.

Switch your shampoo. Start by checking your shampoo ingredient labels. Anything with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS or sulfates) should be replaced with a non-drying cleanser, like the Monoi Repairing Sulfate Free Shampoo. If your hair feels particularly dry due to seasonal shifts, like frequent sun exposure or time spent in indoor heating during the winter, cut back on your shampoo use. Instead, use the Sacred Tiare Fortifying Conditioner in place of your shampoo on every other wash day.

Condition constantly. On the topic of conditioner, this is the one step in your routine where you should spend the most time. Consistently replenishing moisture is going to keep your hair smooth and friction- and split end-free. Try a regular rinse-out formula made with hair oils, like the Goddess Strength Fortifying Conditioner, which stars strand-building castor oil to seal much-needed moisture and nutrients into curly textures. With continued use, you’ll start to notice softer, more hydrated natural hair.

Deep treat monthly. In addition to traditional conditioners, curls benefit greatly from deeply hydrating treatments and hair masks. Ingredients like glycerin and coconut oil, which can be found in Monoi Intense Repair Inner Strength System, provide a more intensive level of moisture replenishment and hair-strengthening. It’s that reinforcement of each strand that will keep natural hair from easily snapping off when stresses like friction come into play. For an even more effective deep treatment, pair the Coco Creme Curl Quenching Deep Moisture Mask with a hair steamer, which will allow for the ingredients to better absorb into each strand.

Get regular trims. Having split ends is like dealing with a run in a pair of stockings. If you don’t stop it in its tracks, it’ll keep going. Snipping the tips of your hair where the splits are present will stop the fraying from inching further up the hair shaft. Aim to trim your ends every six weeks or so, or talk to your curl specialist to figure out the right cadence for your cuts.

Sleep smart. As mentioned, bedtime habits like sleeping without a head scarf or bonnet can be very damaging to natural hair in the long run. You may not even notice it right away, but consistent rubbing raises the hair cuticle, which, for dry, damaged hair, leaves it open to moisture loss, hair breakage, and splitting. Get yourself a satin or silk bonnet and pillowcase to help cut back on friction and prevent your hair’s natural oils from being sucked into the fabric. You should also consider applying a moisturizing treatment, like Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Hair Smoothie, before bed to rehydrate as you sleep.

Practice protective styling. Another easy way to keep curly hair corralled while snoozing is by twisting or braiding it into a protective style. You can keep the ends of your hair tucked away to minimize rubbing and tugging. The same rules apply when wearing hats and accessories. Use a hydrating pomade, like Hair Milk Nourishing and Conditioning Styling Pudding, to add both moisture and hold to your protective style.

How you take your protective style down is just as important as how it’s installed. It may require a bit more work to patiently untwist and remove your braids, twists, or wig, but gently combing through from the ends upward will help you avoid breakage and other damaging hair issues.

How Can I Repair Split Ends On Curly Hair?

The most effective way to repair split ends on curly hair is to get rid of them entirely. Make a visit with your stylist to have any splits snipped. If not cut off altogether, at the point where the strands split, the hair will continue to fray. Eventually, the strand will be beyond repair and will likely break off. Another alternative is to use a butter- or oil-based product, like Coco Creme Curl Shaping Cream Gel with Coconut Oil, to temporarily smooth and seal split ends on curly hair.

Double down on how you repair damaged hair with this cheat sheet on how to stop hair breakage.

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