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What Your Split Ends Are Telling You

Between washing, drying, and styling, the average woman spends 240 hours a year, that’s a whole 10 days, working on her hair. And yet, despite all this time spent primping, many of us still face the annoying reality of split ends.

Split ends aren’t just irritating, they’re a giant sign from your hair that something’s wrong and that you need to fix things fast. There are a large variety in types of split ends, but today we’re going to cover the four most common ones: double splits, partial splits, tree splits, and fork splits.

The Double Split

the double split

The double split is the most common and arguably most recognizable of all the splits. These come about when the cuticle of the hair is worn or damaged, exposing the cortical cells underneath. Since the cortical cells are substantially weaker than the cuticle, the strained hair tends to split from the strain.

Many times this strain comes from friction, so if you’re seeing double splits chances are you could be styling and brushing your hair too vigorously, causing rapid damage to the cuticle of your hair. Since hair can experience friction in a variety of settings, it’s also possible to cause damage to the hair from tossing and turning in your sleep. If you know you move around a lot when you’re sleeping, consider investing in a silk pillowcases. They’re more gentle on your hair and while they won’t fix any existing damage, they will prevent further strain.

The Partial Split

the partial split

Very similar to double splits, the partial split is the initial sign that a double split is coming soon and is marked by a short split at the end of the hair. Unlike the double split which usually comes from sustained wear and tear, partial splits are a sign that your hair dry and damaged, and in need of some serious TLC. There is good news though! Partial splits mean you still have a bit of time to repair that hair before it becomes a bigger issues. To mend partial splits limit exposure to heat and if you do decide to heat style, make sure to use a leave in conditioner and heat protectant. Many salons are also now offering split-end mending treatments, which apply a product that binds the hair back together, and can last up to two months.

To prevent partial splits, limit the amount of heat styling you do to your hair and make sure to apply a hair mask at least once a week in order to provide nourishment and hydration to your locks.

The Tree Split

the tree split

The tree split is a sign that your hair is damaged beyond repair and that you need to get your hair trimmed fast. Tree splits are indicative of some of the most extensive hair damage and the number of splits directly relates to how much damage the cortical cells have sustained. When you see a strand of hair with a tree split that looks like a tree with branches it means your hair is in some seriously bad shape. Tree splits can get even more intense though. Extremely dry and damaged hair can even split into six or seven parts, with splits stemming off the splits!

Tree splits are very rarely just an isolated occurrence. If you find a tree split, chances are that you’re also going to be seeing many double and partial splits. If that’s the case, it’s time to book your next trim. Consider cutting at least a few inches every six to eight weeks in order to keep your hair in tip-top shape and to prevent the dreaded tree split.

The Fork

the fork

A more advanced version of the double split but not quite as damaged as the tree split, the fork split resembles a three-pronged fork. These splits are a sign that your hair is extremely dehydrated and is splitting even further because of a lack of hydration.

The more directions and splits a single strand of hair has, the more unruly and frizzy it will look. Though these can’t really be fixed without cutting, its possible to de-frizz frizzy hair caused by split ends with hair masks, deep conditioners, and leave in conditioners.


split ends care

At the end of the day though, the best way of resolving split ends of any kind is to keep up with routine trims. It may be tempting to skip trims, especially if you’re trying to grow out your hair, but it’s been proven that regularly trimming your hair will actually help it grow stronger and faster. Even though you are trimming off a few inches each time, keeping your hair free of split ends will prevent breakage, so while your hair isn’t growing any faster, it is growing healthier and less prone to breaking off at the ends.

If you’re passionate about hair care and think you have what it takes to be a top notch stylist, request more information about Ogle School’s cosmetology program today!

About the Author

Shalott Cecchini
Shalott Cecchini is a beauty and lifestyle blogger based in Dallas, Texas. She is the founder and author of, where she navigates the world of all things beauty one swatch at a time.