Is This the (Split) End?

So you’re sitting down reading or typing away on your computer trying to study when suddenly you get distracted. You start scrutinising your hair every few minutes or so. Like now. This becomes distracting and annoying but you find yourself unable to stop. Examining your hair is becoming a habit of yours day in and day out. Well, it is mine at least.

This is sad. I know I’m not the only one. But I do get caught in the act of sifting through my long hair and hunting for split ends. I’m sure most girls and even some of you guys know what I’m talking about. Since you and I devote so much time obsessing over something, we should immerse ourselves in the knowledge of split ends, right?

B0006131 Split end of a human hair Credit: Liz Hirst. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Colour-enhanced scanning electron microgaph of the split end of a human hair showing the outer cuticle layer surrounding the inner cortical layer. Scanning electron micrograph 1993 Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2.0 UK, see http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/page/Prices.html

Split Ends under the Microscope. Image Credit Liz Hirst Wellcome Images via Flickr

Trichopwhat?

Trichoptilosis: that’s the official term for split ends. I never would have guessed. Harbouring split ends is a common problem for both men and women. So, nothing to be ashamed of, men!

Now let me share a story, the story of a hair strand. His name is Harry. Harry has a spring in his sway. He enjoys being part of his wonderful hairy family. He can view the whole world from where he’s at! He swivels around to his neighbour, Shaggy. They start acquainting each other about the details of their wonderful, hairy day. Out of the blue, Shaggy starts eyeing Harry carefully. He voices his thoughts to Harry, “Mate, I think you ought to check your end or should I say, ends?!”

Harry looks to himself, tiny eyes bulging. He swings around to Shaggy and tells him his cuticle is broken. Harry gazes at Cutie, the cuticle. Cutie is usually nice and healthy, protecting Harry’s end from any damages. But for some reason, Cutie looks dreadful. She is fatally wounded and dying. Harry can’t help but weep for Cutie and stammers his final goodbyes. After all, most of his family including Shaggy experienced the same thing. But Harry can’t help grimacing through the pain. Cutie’s death has split him into two.

The Autopsy

Many hair strands like Harry live in fear of losing their own Cutie the cuticle. Their Cutie’s death splits them into two or more strands. This can happen anywhere along a hair strand’s length, making it so terrifying and daunting. Ironing your wet hair could cause Cuties dying and splitting the poor hair strands. Combing your hair excessively, towel drying or heating up Harry and his family too much causes damage to the Cuties of your hair strands. If you’re lacking some nutrients and vitamins, this could become apparent in your hair. Poor Cutie had so much stress dumped on her. For Harry and his family, there remains a simple solution, though not ideal for the strands themselves. You cut them. That’s right. Cutting out the split ends would spare Harry the pain, like ripping off a bandage.

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Ripping off Harry’s bandage. Image Credit Kate Lewis via Flickr

Trichology: The Science of Hair

In reality, not much is actually known about the link between nutrition and hair loss. From what trichologists do know, there is no proof that too little zinc causes hair loss. Taking too much supplements can actually contribute to hair loss and split ends. But eating a healthy diet with a good mix of protein, iron and other nutrients will make your Harrys, Shaggys and Cuties nice and healthy. This means your hair is actually growing well out of the base or follicle, not easily broken and your scalp is healthy. These enrich the follicle cells which is the active living part of your hair at the scalp. Your hair is basically made up of protein so if you’re not getting enough of it, you’ll be causing your hair some grief.

Heat of course can also affect your hair, causing it to become brittle, damaged and split ends to appear. But that’s only if you use too much heat. Otherwise, it is actually helpful. It encourages blood flow to the follicles in the scalp and Cutie to open, making conditioning more effective.

Your hair can actually withstand to a temperature of about 232°C. But past that, it’s permanently damaged. There’s no going back. Excessive heat permanently breaks the chemical bonds called disulphide bonds or bridges and protein cross links which normally gives your hair its strength. But otherwise unless you want to burn your hair, you should be A-Okay.

The (Split) End

So you see, to spare Harry and his family the pain and suffering, you just need to watch out for your hair. Look after the bunch so Harry and his family can bask in the glory of being healthy and happy. What a nice splitting end!

Further Links:

Blog: Nobody wants a split end… but what really is it?

Video: What are Split Ends? Everything You Need to Know About Split Ends

Video: Hair Split Ends under a Microscope

Nutrition and Hair Health

7 Myths about Using Heat on Natural Hair & Heat Damage

 


4 Responses to “Is This the (Split) End?”

  1. Eileen Lam says:

    Hehe thanks, Jinia! It’s fairly common so your hair should be fine!

  2. Jinia says:

    Hi, why can I read your post just now?! It’s my daily problem too! I don’t have that much splitted hair (I’m quite sure because I check it), but I have that habit to cut it when I find it (I already do a right move). I have a thick hair and waiting it to dry is just waste my time so I often use hair dryer. I’ll be more careful now.

    Anyway, I like how you give the hair name. It’s kinda cute and give a story to your post.

  3. Eileen Lam says:

    Apparently, it’s okay to towel dry as long as you’re just patting your hair dry or squeezing the water out but you shouldn’t do it in a really rough manner otherwise it could cause a bit of damage!

  4. Gorkem says:

    So towel drying also damages hair? I thought it would be gentle…