Split ends – those minute splits at the end of the hair strand that cause unruly, frizzy, lifeless hair – are the result of the wearing away of the protective outer layer of the hair cuticle.

For many of us, the idea of having our hair cut is daunting, as our idea of ‘one centimetre’ and the stylist’s idea of the same, is often completely different, and you end up with a head of hair that is much, much shorter than expected.

According to hairstylist Claire Swart of Bespoke Hair in Durban, who has over 25 years’ experience in the industry, “One thing you should be aware of when it comes to split ends is that you simply cannot mend a split end. Once it is split, it is split.

“I think that women end up with more split ends because they do not want to go through the trimming process and lose their length with a scissor-happy stylist.

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“You do not have to lose a lot of length during a trim of split ends. If you explain to the person performing the trim, they should understand what you want, but the stylist should advise the client of what is damaged and what can be kept,” she advises.

When it comes to split ends, there are ways of temporarily fixing these splits:

1. Do not shampoo the ends. Only condition them.

2. Do not brush wet hair. Rather use a wide-toothed comb, or your fingers, and comb through the hair. Hair is fragile when wet.

3. Do not use a comb on dry hair, but rather use a brush in this case. A comb will catch knots and may cause breakage.

4. A silicone-based hair product (preferably for split ends), helps to control split ends, but a trim is always recommended. When applying styling products, ensure they are applied to the ends of the hair.

5. Try to avoid overdrying your hair and using heated appliances on a regular basis. Heat causes damage to the hair.

6. Try using a hair mask, get a hydrating hair treatment, or even opt for a keratin based treatment.

7. You may also try taking folic acid and biotin supplements which help nourish the body. Folic acid is known to increase tissue growth and hair growth. Biotin is a B-complex vitamin that joins with cell enzymes to help produce amino acids – a component of protein that assists the hair in growing.

If you need to reduce the appearance of split ends in between salon visits (which should be every six weeks for longer hair, and every two to three weeks for shorter hair), there are a few natural products that can be used as an ‘at-home’ remedy.

Natural hair mask ingredients include coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, mayonnaise, avocado and banana. There are numerous recipes on the Internet to help you prepare a mask that you can apply to your hair

These include coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, mayonnaise, avocado and banana. There are numerous recipes on the Internet to help you prepare a hair mask that you can apply to your hair.

Claire warns that if you use natural remedies that contain oil, it is important to know how to cleanse the hair afterwards, to remove the product correctly. These products do not penetrate the hair shaft, but act as a temporary fix on the outer layer of the hair. She advises to follow the steps below to correctly remove the product:

1. Allow the oil to dry

2. Then dry shampoo the hair by applying and lathering shampoo onto dry hair

3. Repeat the shampoo process. In this case, the shampoo process is the exception to the rule of only shampooing the scalp. You will need to shampoo both the scalp and the roots to remove the product effectively.

4. Towel dry and condition the roots.

If the natural product is left on the hair, it creates what is known as build-up – a waxy layer on the hair which makes the hair dull, lifeless, heavy and oily.

If you are a Google fanatic and use the search engine as your go-to guide, you may find a great deal of split-end removal suggestions and may want to try them out on your own hair – such as the hair twist and snip technique or the candle technique – but many of these remove body from the hair and in the end actually cause slow growth of the hair.

We can never be sure how a DIY treatment will work on our own hair, so it is best to leave it to the professionals.

What’s more, if you colour your hair regularly, you should have a treatment, as colour treatments mess with the disulphate bonds of the hair, which can also lead to hair damage.

At the end of the day, a cut will eventually be needed. It may not be necessary to take off much, but a reasonable amount. This will depend on you, as everyone’s hair is in a different condition.