What Your Kind of Split Ends Say About You

Because they speak volumes.

split ends
(Image credit: Design by Kevin Peralta)

Yes, the origin of every split end may be the same—weathering and damage—but that doesn't mean that each fiber doesn't have its own story to tell. On average, women spend 1.5 years doing their hair with their own unique combination of brushing, washing, coloring, blow drying, flat ironing, or curling it. "From a scientist's perspective, there are an infinite number of combinations of split ends," explains Eric Spengler, SVP of Research & Development at Living Proof.

Because that's an overwhelming thought (especially because we're strangely addicted to picking at our ends), we're shedding light on how they go from pristine and pin straight to frayed rope status with the six most common types of split ends.


Basic split

(Image credit: Design By Kevin Peralta)

"These are probably the most common types, examples of early split development. In these cases, cortical cells are still largely held together but large sections are beginning to separate," explains Spengler.

What they say about you: Your strands need more nourishment, but it's not too late! Use a treatment that helps seal and heal your ends like Living Proof's Perfect hair Day Fresh Cut Split End Mender, stat.



(Image credit: Design by Kevin Peralta)

"Like the basic split, the mini is very common and an example of early split development," he says.

What they say about you: Again, your ends are thirsty but not beyond repair. Seal and heal those ends before it's too late.


Fork split end

(Image credit: Design by Kevin Peralta)

"These are slightly less common as the basic split and mini and are examples of more damage to the hair fiber," says Spengler. "The fork in the road shows more widespread damage and more significant splitting."

What they say about you: Your hair could use more deep conditioning mask treatments (Living Proof's Restore Mask Treatment is a game-changer), as well as a couple more trims a year.


Tree split ends

(Image credit: Design by Kevin Peralta)

"The tree shows an example where more damage has occurred to one side of the hair fiber than the other and as a result several 'branches' of cortical cells are beginning to separate," he explains.

What they say about you: You need to book a haircut appointment ASAP. Going forward, use products that protect the hair from excessive weathering (look for formulas that contain the ingredient OFPMA).


Candle split ends

(Image credit: Design by Kevin Peralta)

"The candle is an example of significant loss of the outer cuticle with no split having started but is highly susceptible for it to begin at anytime," says Spengler.

What they say about you: You need a trim (duh!), but in the meantime use a split end treatment or nourishing essential oil to do some pre-damage control.


Knot split ends

(Image credit: Design by Kevin Peralta)

"Single strand knots are self explanatory," he says. "Curly hair types have this problem where the curl has tangled and has caused its own knot. It will typically cause the hair to break at that spot from brushing."

What they say about you: If you have curly hair, you need to be extra careful when you brush it so as not to cause breakage.

Beauty Editor

Lauren Valenti is Vogue’s former senior beauty editor. Her work has also appeared on ELLE.com, MarieClaire.com, and in In Style. She graduated with a liberal arts degree from Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, with a concentration on Culture and Media Studies and a minor in Journalism.