By Chinwe of Hair and Health
You have been natural for some time. Your hair is growing, but your ends are thin, scraggly, brittle, weak, and/or split. If this sounds like your situation, then understand that your ends do not have to be this way throughout your natural hair journey. Here are six tips to get you started towards thicker, stronger ends:
1. Trim away split ends and other damage
If you want to eliminate thin, brittle ends, then start first by trimming away any moderate to severe damage. Though this step may sound obvious, many of us still hold on to such damage in hopes of keeping our length OR magically reverting back to healthy ends. To put it bluntly, split ends need to be cut. Severely worn ends need to be cut. These weak points need to be removed. (Check out this post for various ways to trim natural hair.) After your trim, you can then really focus on achieving thicker, stronger ends using the following steps …
2. Use a protein conditioner on your ends
The use of protein conditioners tends to be underrated in the natural hair community while moisture is usually at the forefront of our minds. Though moisture is obviously necessary, protein can be beneficial in temporarily reinforcing the ends of our hair, particularly areas where the cuticle has been lost. Such reinforcement can allow for thicker, stronger ends in the immediate moment (due to temporary patching of the cuticle) as well as in the long run (due to protection against breakage and splits). Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner, if needed.
3. Lubricate your ends liberally prior to manipulation
Many naturals already know about the importance of “sealing” – application of an oil and/or a butter to the ends in order to help lock in moisture. However, not as many naturals know about the importance of “lubricating” the ends, especially prior to manipulation of any sort. So why is this process useful? Well, application of an oil and/or butter to the ends can reduce friction that might otherwise cause knotting, tangling, splits, and worn ends. Thus, it can be beneficial to not only apply these substances after you moisturize but also before you style (e.g., twist your hair, bun your hair) or separate (e.g., undo twists for a twist-out, separate an old braid-out) your hair.
4. Keep direct heat usage to a minimum OR eliminate it altogether
While you may not experience immediate heat damage (that is, permanently straight strands), you can accumulate an abundance of split ends with the overuse of heating tools. Thus, it is better to keep heat usage to a minimum (and that minimum varies from one natural to another) or to cut it out altogether.
5. Handle your ends gently AND as little as possible
The less you handle your hair, the less wear and tear you will experience, especially at the ends. For some naturals, this means protective styling long-term while for others this means adopting a simple, low-manipulation style routine. Also, when you are manipulating your hair, be very gentle at the ends; tugging, pulling, and tension can lead to splits and faster wear.
6. Moisturize your ends sufficiently and regularly
This last tip may seem like a no-brainer, but how many of us can be honest with ourselves about being on top of our moisture game ALL of the time … especially when it comes to the very ends of our strands? The reality is that dry ends can transform into broken, thin ends over time, so make this tip a priority!
Have any of these steps helped your ends?