What’s The Deal With Split Ends?

In Educate by El Rubio28 Comments

The Definitive Guide To Split Ends For Men

Alright boys, let’s talk split ends. If you found this looking for the offensive position, ‘split end,’ in American football, try ‘wide receiver.’

We’re not talking about split ends on the proverbial gridiron, but the mysterious condition relating to your long hair, spoken of by women in whispered tones like a shadow in the night.

“Oh, no…you have split ends.”

Is that like leprosy? Is it terminal? Can it be treated?

Fortunately this is not a life-threatening condition, although it is terminal as far as your hair goes. Treatable only by amputation, but we’ll get to that.

We’re gonna help you navigate these murky waters, but let’s start with some basic education.


What are split ends, and why are they bad?

Split ends are exactly what they sound like. It’s when the shaft of your hair splits into two or more segments, usually at the tip. Think about a rope that’s unraveling at the end.

Split ends are a sign of damaged, often unhealthy, hair. That’s a problem.

Once it splits, your hair will continue splitting further and further all the way up the shaft of your hair until it reaches the root. Then you’re in real trouble, because split ends make your already damaged hair more susceptible to further damage and breakage.

Split ends will affect your hair’s appearance, making it look ragged, weathered, tired, dusty and haggard. That’s bad.

Worse though is the long term effects of split ends. You probably want your hair to be growing longer, faster. When your hair breaks you’ll have uneven length, but you also lose that hair and have to start over.

Effectively, breakage is the enemy of long hair. And are you the type to harbor and abet the enemy? Of course not.

What causes split ends?

Damage. From heat, chemicals, exposure, rough treatment and wear & tear. Including but not limited to:

  • Excessive use of blowdryers, straightening irons, curling irons and other heat-emanating devices.
  • Hair treatments, coloring, bleach and hair products with sulfates.
  • Overexposure to sunlight, seawater, chlorine, smoke or air pollution.
  • Using hair ties or other hair accessories that damage your hair.

Here are some situations and activities that may be more common to men, where you could be damaging your hair:

  • If you’re brushing your hair when it’s wet.
  • If you’re tying your hair too tight, especially for long periods, especially when it’s wet.
  • If you’re skiing or snowboarding and you leave your hair exposed to subfreezing temperatures.
  • If you’re engaging in watersports without rinsing with fresh water, especially when leaving your hair exposed to intense sunlight afterwards.
  • If you’re shampooing every day.
  • If you’re using products that dry out your hair.
  • If you’re using hair ties that damage your hair.

Do you have split ends? What do you do about them?

Take a section of your hair and examine it carefully under good light. Hold it between two fingers. You can look in a mirror if that helps.

You will be able to see individual shafts of hair splitting into a “Y,” or even further splitting into three or more segments.

If you have split ends, you need to panic. Actually don’t panic, but you’ll need to amputate on these wounded soldiers, cutting at least a ¼ inch above the split. We recommend finding a barber or stylist you trust, and who is educated about hair.

If you’re in San Diego, we recommend House of Imago or Style Lounge Salon. It’s where we get our hair cared for, and the owners and professionals at both know their stuff and can be trusted.

Barber shops are badass—we go there for beard trims—they just might not have as much experience with long hair.

There are products out there that claim to repair split ends, seal them up or otherwise fix the problem, but these are like using a band-aid on a compound femur fracture. They will not actually repair the damage and more likely will leave your hair more susceptible to further damage.

We know it sucks getting your hair trimmed, especially if you’re eager for it to grow longer. But if you have split ends and your don’t trim them, they are going to get worse and it’s going to take more time to grow your hair longer in the end.

Split Ends Close Up

Ok, so how do you prevent them?

The best way to deal with split ends is to prevent them. How? Healthy hair. About which we could write an entire book, so we’ll keep this abbreviated here.

The best thing you can do to keep your hair healthy is avoid damage. We’ve covered most common ways you can damage your hair above, but you should also avoid lighting your hair on fire, getting it caught in heavy machinery and soaking it in furniture lacquer.

Split Ends Close Up

Moisture Balance

Beyond avoiding damage, the next most important aspect to healthy hair is maintaining a healthy moisture balance. Your scalp produces a natural oil called sebum, which moisturizes and lubricates your hair. Some men have a more oily scalp, some dryer. Whichever the case, you want balance.

Brushing properly will help you distribute these natural oils evenly throughout your hair, so it’s a good idea to brush once a day. You want to use proper technique and the right brush, so mind the link above.

Split Ends Close Up

Your shampoo and conditioner regimen is important to moisture balance. Shampooing your hair regularly is a good idea, but not every day. While cleansing your hair and scalp, shampooing strips the natural oils out of your hair. For most guys, somewhere between every other day and once a week is the number. Use products without sulfates, which are bad.

You can, however, condition every day. Conditioning is great for your hair and you can do it often, even in between shampooing. If you don’t want to full-on condition that often, you can just spray the tips with a spray bottle, then apply conditioner to the tips.

Split Ends Close Up

You can even leave conditioner in your hair, but you want to use conditioner that is for “moisturizing.” If you have a conditioner that says “strengthening,” “rebuilding,” “restructuring,” or similar terminology, you don’t want to leave this in.

If you still find your hair is dry, whether naturally or from using products or swimming in chlorine or some other cause, using natural oils are a great way to moisturize. Coconut, avocado, tea tree and nut oils are all excellent for your hair. Application instructions can be found in Quick Tips.

Split Ends Close Up

Your overall health and fitness are directly related to the health of your hair. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and a healthy, balanced diet are all important.

Lastly, in terms of priority, your hair is basically the least important in your body systems. As a consequence, your hair is a good indication of your overall health, almost like a “first responder.” If you are having constant problems with unhealthy hair, you might visit your health professional to dig a little deeper into what’s going on with your body.

For more tips and details on keeping your hair healthy, sign up for Quick Tips.

One final comment. In their grace and beauty and to the good fortune of men, women have been going to great lengths for centuries to make their hair look great, for which we’re eternally thankful. However, in their endless quest for great-looking hair, women have at times taken measures that damage their hair.

As a result, it’s not uncommon for men with long hair to actually have healthier hair than women. You may have women complimenting you on your hair, or even telling you they wish their hair was as nice as yours. Accept their compliments with grace and gratitude, and remember the reason why: less is more. Treating, coloring, hot air blasting, teasing, spraying, straightening, curling. It might sound like a good idea, but the best idea is all natural with proper care and maintenance.

There you have it boys, now you know. Next step is taking action, by preventing damage and promoting healthy hair. So do it.

Are you using hair ties that are damaging your hair? If you’re using any of these, the answer is yes.

Stop using hair ties that are damaging your hair. Get superior hair ties, for men.


  1. Shit! I looked at a strand of hair and the end tip goes to a Y shape. It’s like 2 milimeters long. Do I go get a trim you think? I have never been to a barber. I have only been to the really inexpensive shops.

    1. Yea man trim that off before it starts moving higher up on the strands, that’s when you’ll have a real problem.

  2. What’s wrong with the round, black, fabric ones with no metal parts?

    1. They twist up and form a razor like edge cutting the hair. They also only last about 2 days.

  3. Since I wash my hair with cold water every day exclusively (no baking soda or all that bs, just plain cold water like our ancestors did), I don*t have that problem.

    I wanted to ask you whether you will put up hair ties without any patterns on them? Like unicode black or red. I always like to keep it simple with no fancy designs :p Just like my clothing choice.

    Cheers guys, great to have a community of other longhaired dudes.

    1. Yo! Yea man, next run we will be releasing some plain colors.

      1. Great! The shipping will cost more than the ties themselves but it’s worth it!

        1. Author

          No way man! Shipping is only about $1, even international. We don’t have control over any import fees imposed by your country’s customs, however, you may want to check with your local post on that. Thanks for writing in amigo!

          1. Alright, any vague idea when your plain-color ties will be available? My hair finally reaches my shoulders. Also, any idea how to upload another profile pic? Don’t see any way to access my profile.

          2. Author

            Yo dude! Yes, we will be launching new Hair Ties For Guys this year, including plain colors. Estimate is 90 days.

            Your profile pic is pulled from Gravatar. It’s a WordPress service so your profile picture will appear on any WordPress website you comment on. Looks like you’ve had one before, you just need to go in and update it.

            Thanks for keeping in touch man, stay up.

    1. Author

      Walk up to the bar. Order three shots of whiskey. Put your head down on the bar, hand the bartender a big butcher knife and tell him, “just a little off the top.”

    2. Author

      I’m sure you meant salon, and that is a great question.

      The first thing I usually do is tell them “the goal is not shorter.” Beauty professionals will often have ideas or suggestions, anywhere from thinning your hair out, shaping it, layering, texturing, etc. Which makes us realize we’ll need to do a more in-depth post on this topic.

      Certainly, listen to their ideas, ask questions and take advantage of the education opportunity. But our best advice is to simply ask them for a minimal trim. Really what you want is to find a salon or hair cutter you can build a relationship with, who knows your hair, knows about mens hair and you can trust.

      We’ll go more in depth on this in a future post, but hope this helps in the meantime and thanks for the great question man!

  4. Hey Longhairs!

    Is washing your hair less always a good thing? I’ve got it about to the point now where I can wash it once a week, only on Mondays, and it doesn’t really start to get noticeably greasy until Saturday. The problem is that even though it is horribly greasy by Monday morning when I wash it, it still seems extra dry, especially at the ends after I wash it. Should I wash it more often?

    1. Author

      Jackson Lane, what a name! Good question. I’m not sure if washing more is the answer, but moisture balance in between washing might be. Make sure you’re brushing daily in between washes to distribute all that oil buildup. You can also try using moisturizing in between washes using moisturizing conditioner or other moisturizing tactics. Thanks for writing in man!

  5. Hi
    I still don’t know if I have split ends or not. i trimmed 3 days ago and my barber said nothing about it. Would you explain it again?
    By the way my hair twist . how should I make it straight?

    1. Author

      There could be a long explanation behind this, but the short answer is no. Split ends are caused by damage. However, if cut haphazardly, certain cutting techniques can make your hair more susceptible to split ends.

  6. Hey guys

    I want to know where can I find or how can I get your ties o similar to them, I’m in Colombia so … a little bit far
    Thanks for this site, I’ve learned many thing I didn’t knew

  7. Hey how about for black man with short hair and got split ends but didn’t know about it untile like a year or two, because my hair isn’t growing as mutch no more please help

    1. Author

      Yo Yosef!

      Thanks for writing in man. It would be hard to have split ends with short hair. Split ends happen due to wear and tear over time, so short hair hasn’t been around to sustain that kind of damage. Are you sure that’s what’s happening? Tell us a little more about the problem and hopefully we can help out.

  8. hello! I noticed my hair has split ends. so I trimmed them but still after some days split ends came out again and hair getting thinner.. So instead of trimming can we shaved all to get rid off split ends? will it be helpful for new hair? THanks..

  9. hi so i have a pretty chubby face and was thinking about growing my hair out all my friends tell me itll make me look even work what do yall think?

  10. Hi dudes, nice hair thoughts. Hers an unpopular opinion: split hairs are fun. I like splitting them. Especially when I’m bored at school. Ah the joys of curly hair, no one can even tell… despite this I’ll probably take your advise and get a trim 🙂

    1. Don’t let those spilt ends get up to the root or else you got a serious problem.

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