11 Causes of Split Ends and Breakage

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Causes of split ends

Ever wondered what causes those frizzy, dry and split ends? It can be quite frustrating when your perfect hairstyle is flawed by brittle and frayed ends.

Here are some of the most common cause of split ends and breakage that you need to be aware of:

1. Over-manipulation

Excessive pulling of the scalp during styling (braiding, installing weaves etc) may leads to thinning and shedding of the hair follicles. This repetitive strain on the hair leads to thin and split ends.

If you’re craving a straight hairstyle, you might find yourself stroking those hair strands vigorously causing over stretching of the hair strands. This is prime example of over-manipulation of the hair that you need to re-think.

2. Lack of moisture

Dry hair that is not adequately moisturized is not only dull but can be the genesis of split ends and breakage.

This is because the hair cuticle is generally cracked and is exposed to agents of destruction if not adequately moisturized and protected.

The hair becomes less elastic and more brittle. Thus, can easily split through its shaft and break apart.

There are several hydration techniques such as the LOC method that you can use to moisturize and keep the ends of your hair strong.

3. Chemical damage

Whilst relaxers, perms, dyes are quite an ‘efficient’ way of switching up hairstyles, continuous use of these chemicals is not good for your ends which are the oldest parts of your hair.

These chemicals penetrate deep into the hair cuticle and damage it. This may lead to moisture and nutrient deprivation ruining the healthy balance of the hair leading to dry, frizzy and split ends.

4.Towel Drying

Just after a cleanse, all you want is to give your hair a quick dry before proceeding to style. It is quite tempting to get your regular towel to get the job done.

However, the course texture of the towel might weaken the hair leading to breakage or split ends.

Squeezing too hard may also cause tension on the hair strands loosening the hair structure. Additionally, hair becomes quite frizzy.

5. UV Exposure

Too much exposure to the sun may lead to shrivelling and cropping of hair follicles, particularly the ends which are already weak.

Your hair is mainly composed of proteins. Proteins and UV wavelengths are most definitely not friends thus the hair destruction and splitting of hair.

Always ensure you where sun protection to protect your fragile ends.

6. Friction

Depending on your pillowcase type, you may experience split ends and hair thinning. Tossing and turning in bed may cause dehydration of hair leading to friction.

Hair may become knotted and tangled making it easier for disintegration.

It’s therefore important to wear a satin or silk scarf to help minimize the friction. If you are able to, switch up your regular pillow cases with satin ones, your hair will thank you for it.

7. Bad weather

Cold regions tend to have low humidity and this can reign disaster on your hair and especially the ends. The dry air absorbs moisture from your hair leading to dehydration, frizz or even split ends.

Warm temperatures with excess humidity may cause the hair to absorb too much moisture. The hair might become too heavy and wet making it fragile to breakage.

Moreover, exposure to the UV rays may damage the hair cuticle leading to breakdown of the hair composition. This increases the chances of your hair developing split ends.

8. Harsh products

Some products contain ingredients that are damaging to you hair, exposing it to split ends and other hair problems.

Silicon, sulphates and alcohol may lead to moisture loss in the hair thus easily frizz and break. Coal tar may also accentuate splitting of hair as it hurts the scalp.

When shopping, the attractive packaging of a given shampoo or conditioner shouldn’t be the only thing that prompts you to buy, check the ingredients list.

9. Excessive heat styling

Heat can be detrimental to your hair especially when it too high. The high temperatures break bonds that are majorly responsible for hair strength.

Aside from that, too much heat dehydrates the hair strands leaving them dry , brittle and quite susceptible to breakage.

10. Nutritional deficiencies

Undersupply of vital nutrients like biotin, vitamins and zinc inhibits healthy and consistent hair growth. It can also lead to dry and brittle ends that split easily.

Cell generation is generally slowed which minimizes the cuticle’s ability to retain moisture. A deficit of these substances leads to underdeveloped and weak strands that are easily torn and cropped.

11. Genetic causes

Maybe you were just born this way!  Some defects in the hair shaft may be the cause of chronic split ends. A condition like Trichothiodystrophy may lead to scarcity of sulphur in the hair which is a key element in hair strengthening.


Split ends can be caused by several factors such as:

  1. Over-manipulation
  2. Dry hair
  3. Chemical damage
  4. Towel Drying
  5. UV Exposure
  6. Friction from sleeping
  7. Weather e.g low humidity
  8. Harsh products
  9. Excessive heat styling
  10. Nutritional deficiencies
  11. Genetic causes

Now that you know what really causes split ends, you should be able to get rid of them easily. In the upcoming article, we will talk about how to prevent and get rid of split ends once and for all.

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