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Coming to you from my bed, watching Netflix, with my hair wrapped in a towel, is my very first article for Vocal.
Okay, so, I know most of you guys have heard something similar to, “If you want your hair to grow faster, you need to keep your split ends clipped.”
And in response, I’m sure a lot of you have asked yourself, “Is that really the secret to long, healthy hair? How often do I need to cut them? Does it even work?”
I believe the reason many people think this is a myth is because they are aware of the fact that hair grows at the roots, not the ends, and probably wonder, “How does cutting the ends make it grow faster if it grows from the scalp?”
Well, I’m here to break it down and explain how it DOES work, and why. First, though, I’m going to give a brief explanation about what split ends are, what causes them, and how products claiming to restore split ends don’t work.
Trichopilosis is the medical term for the condition known as split or dead ends. The word has Greek and Latin origins, and is used to describe the fraying and “feathering” of the hair cuticle and shaft, and it gives your hair ends a torn, rough feel, while making the ends appear very thin and fragile. Split ends are a natural part of life, and there’s no way to 100 percent prevent them. They’re caused by any number of things, including chemical services (dyeing, perming, relaxing, etc.), heat styling, too-frequent washing, and exposure to the elements. Here's an example of what Trichopilosis looks like under a microscope:
Dead Ends Under A Microscope
Now, it’s important to remember that your hair grows from the scalp, and not at the ends, when thinking about purchasing any beauty products. Many commercials and companies will advertise products meant to restore your hair at the ends, even though that’s the most ineffective way to restore your hair, period. There are products on the market that are advertised to repair split ends. The way these products work is not to actually fix the ends, but to glue them back together, so to speak. It does not solve your split end problems, because none of these products are permanent, and your ends will end up re-fraying after you stop the use of those products. Think about it like a piece of paper. You can tape a torn piece together, and yes, it is able to be written on and is useable, but is it truly fixed? Will that tape hold forever?
Now onto the question you’re all thinking: What does any of that have to do with growing my hair out?
I’m glad you asked. Split ends are naturally very brittle and dry. What happens to dry, brittle things? They break.
Let’s say you’re trying to grow your hair longer by eight inches, but the last inch of your hair is made up of dead ends. As you go about your day-to-day life, your hair will be exposed to heat, wind, and pollution, including your already-stressed split ends. These are the conditions that will cause your last inch of split ends to break off in pieces, leaving the very tips of your hair jagged and torn. So now you have nine inches to grow.
After about two months, you’ll have that one inch you lost back. However, all during that month, you’ve flat-ironed your hair every day, been to the beach, dyed it that gorgeous maroon shade you found, and, once again, exposed it to the elements. Also, during that month, you did NOT get a hair trim. So now, that teeny, tiny, 1/16th of an inch frayed end has grown and grown to dry, brittle split ends once more. Now, you’re back where you started, with eight inches left to grow, and an inch of split ends. It’s a vicious cycle, that, luckily, is very easy to break.
As opposed to letting those dead ends break off on their own into jagged, misshapen hair strands, cutting your hair with shears trims those ends into nice, straight lines, with no torn ends. This makes it take longer for your split ends to form, since they don’t start off split in the first place.
Hair Cut With Shears Under A Microscope
Let me reiterate: Split ends are a part of life, but keeping your ends cut keeps the ends from tearing even more, like they would if your ends broke off.
So, back to your one-inch split ends. You have that one inch cut off, you have nine inches to go. Two months pass, and you’ve grown that inch back. However, unlike last time, you only have about a half inch worth of split ends, due to the last haircut evenly cutting your hair. Now, if you cut those ends off, you’re losing half as much length as you were before when you let your ends go wild. With every two months that passes, you’re only losing half as much, meaning it’s getting longer faster, because you’re losing less.
This is why they say keeping your ends cut makes it grow faster. You end up losing less hair in the long run.
I recommend that you go to the salon and get your ends trimmed at least every two to three weeks, even if you only get a quarter of an inch cut off. It will save your hair in the long run and keep your locks healthy, smooth, and full-looking.