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Can split ends stop hair growth?

By: Alejandro Buttari |
Can split ends stop hair growth?

Split ends are a frustrating problem that can happen to unhealthy hair. And while they certainly can make your ends look a bit rough, they can be prevented and managed with the right care. But, what many people don’t realize until it happens to them is that split ends can interfere with hair growth. But the big question is, do split ends stop hair growth altogether? Well, not exactly, although it may feel that way. Here’s what you should know about split ends and hair growth. 

What are split ends?

The formal term for split ends is trichoptilosis. That is undoubtedly a mouthful, so for the sake of ease and understanding, we will stick to split ends. After all, that pretty much encompasses what a split end is: it is when the fibers begin to fray and separate at the end of a hair strand. And, if you have ever messed with a split end, you will know that it can progress up the hair, especially if you pull at or separate the loose fibers. 

What causes split ends?

Several factors can lead to split ends, but most fall under two categories: either something we do (or don’t do) to our hair and environmental factors. Split ends can occur when:

  • We use harsh chemicals on our hair, such as for texture or color changes
  • We use hot styling tools and blow dryers, which can damage the cuticle and separate fibers
  • We don’t use the right kind of products that fail to provide enough moisture to hydrate our strands
  • We overbrush and over style our hair, causing physical damage
  • The weather is cold and dry
  • We do particularly drying activities like regularly swimming in chlorinated pools without a shower cap

As you can see, some of the causes of split ends can be prevented, but some cannot (like the weather). But, at the crux of all these factors is the dryness problem. Generally speaking, well-hydrated locks do not split, but dry and brittle ones do. 

How do split ends interfere with hair growth?

Split ends do not actually interfere with hair growth, although it may seem like it. What they do interfere with is healthy length. About 85% of our hair is in the growing phase (anagen) of the hair growth cycle. Styling practices and the weather can’t really interfere with our growth cycle and the rate of growth, as that largely is supported and driven by internal factors. However, it can seem like it is taking a long time for your hair to grow if your ends are splitting because the hair is generally unhealthy at the ends, and it may even be breaking off.

While it differs slightly for everyone, most people can expect around 6 inches of hair growth per year. However, this is assuming your hair is healthy and is given the right conditions. If you do not have the right conditions, your hair will still grow, but you may be losing out on length on the opposite end of the hair follicle.

How can you prevent split ends?

You can do several things to keep your hair healthy and prevent splitting. The first and most important thing you can do is keep your hair moisturized. This means using a good, sulfate-free shampoo that promotes growth while hydrating both the scalp and the hair shafts. And always follow up with a conditioner, as that really helps to seal in the moisture after a good cleansing.

Next, you will want to avoid any unnecessary treatments or harsh styling practices. Using hot styling tools is fine occasionally (after all, experimenting with big curls, casual waves, or lusciously straight locks is one of the reasons many have long hair). But, regular use of these tools can be damaging. Likewise, embracing your natural hair color is always in, but if you do prefer to color-treat your hair, it is essential to use a shampoo and conditioner system that is designed specifically for color-treated locks. 

Additionally, having regular trims will help keep your ends strong and even. The longer your hair is, the longer your strands have been “alive,” meaning that they can get pretty old. As such, longer hair has been exposed to a lot of things over the past several years, which can make it that much harder to keep your ends healthy and vibrant. Thus, getting regular trims can help keep the rest of the hair shaft healthy and prevent split ends from traveling upwards. (Yes, the whole hair shaft can end up splitting into multiple parts.)

A Note From Us

Whether you have color-treated hair, long hair, short hair, or almost no hair, we have dermatologist-formulated products created for your hair type. Reach out to one of our Product Advisors for recommendations on how to best support healthy hair growth for you.

This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for medical care or to prescribe treatment for any specific health condition. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.