What are the differences between dead ends and split ends? What should you do in each case?

badly damaged

Do you have dead ends or do you have split ends? Deciding between the two is the key to finding a solution to either one. A lot of women think they’re the same, but in truth, they’re two very different things.


That’s why I want to tell you how to differentiate between split ends and dead ends today. Take a close look at your hair.

  • Do small areas of your hair break when you brush or comb it?
  • Does your hair feel rough to the touch?
  • Is it impossible to brush through?
 If that’s your case, then I’m sorry to tell you that you have dead ends, and the solution is to get your ends trimmed and do moisturizing treatments. 


  • Is your hair easy to brush?
  • Are your ends soft to the touch?
  • Do your ends take a long time to air dry?
 If that sounds like you, then you have split ends and the solution is using a split end sealing product.  


I’m going to give you an example. Maria comes to my salon often to dye her hair, get highlights and do pretty radical changes to her style.

But the last time she came into the salon, the way her hair looked surprised me. It looked like hay, kind of like what you’d see on the end of a broom, both in color and texture. And, she had a lot of frizz, which made her hair difficult to detangle and brush. Plus, small bits of her hair were falling out.


When I asked her what had happened to her hair, she admitted that she tried to do a balayage at home, but the bleach process hadn’t gone quite right.

That was where the problem with her ends came from. Do you think Maria had split ends or dead ends?


I’ll tell you soon, but first, let me tell you about the differences between split ends and dead ends.


Tabla de Contenidos


Differences between split ends and dead ends

In order to figure out if you have split ends or dead ends, it’s very important to look closely at your hair. Let’s start by looking at what happens when you run a comb through your hair.


  • Dead ends break when you run a comb through them, while split ends shouldn’t.

That means that if you see a bunch of small bits of hair half an inch to an inch long all over your clothes, it means you have dead ends because they no longer have the right amount of moisture and break easily.

Split ends don’t break like that.


  • Dead ends have a rough, dry texture when you touch them, split ends don’t.

Since dead ends have lost all of their moisture, they feel like the bristles on a broom, while split ends maintain their soft texture.


  • You can’t detangle dead ends when your hair is wet, while you can split ends.

If when you try to detangle your hair while it’s wet, and you see it stretching like gum, then you have dead ends.

If you can still brush through wet hair easily, then you have split ends.


Are you still unsure? I’ll tell you a stylist’s secret for knowing if your ends are split or dead. It’s a secret called the “wet hair test.”


Using the wet hair test for confirming if you have split ends or dead ends

The wet hair test is a simple procedure, with the objective of seeing how long it takes for your ends to dry. So, don’t forget to have a timer on hand.

Follow these steps:

  • Wet your hair
  • Use a towel to get rid of the excess moisture
  • Brush through your hair as much as possible
  • Now take a look at your watch and keep an eye on the time


If your ends dry in less than five minutes, then you have dead ends, because they’re not able to absorb nutrients, much less water, so that’s why they’re able to dry so quickly.

If your ends take more than five minutes to dry, you have split ends since they can still receive nutrients and absorb the water.


  • Why do your ends die?

When it comes to dead ends, oftentimes bleach or overuse of hair dye opens your hair cuticles, leaving the fiber exposed and when that happens, your hair fiber burns and dies, since it doesn’t receive the nutrients that your hair sends from the roots.


  • Why do your ends split?

When you dye your hair or bleach it, your hair cuticles open because of the peroxide in the developer your use. But, because of the chemical process, your ends might not be strong enough to close again, making them turn into split ends.

So, we can say that split ends are what come before dead ends. That’s why there is still hope for your hair if you have split ends.


How to fix split ends

with a machine

The first thing you can do, if you don’t mind shortening your hair a little, is to cut your hair with a machine for trimming split ends or with very sharp scissors.

There are also various treatments out there for fixing split ends:

  • Moisturizing keratin masks: these masks will seal your ends and soften them
  • End repairing oils
  • Essential oils like coconut, argan and almond oil


If you like to make homemade masks, here’s a recipe you can use:


Recipe for a mask for split ends


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil



  • Mix the egg yolks and olive oil together in a plastic container.
  • Use the mix only on your ends.
  • Let it sit for 20 minutes, then rinse with hot water.

When you towel dry your hair, you’ll see that your ends are soft, bright and docile. You can use the mask up to twice a week.


If you prefer to buy a product, here’s a list of different treatments and shampoos that you can use to repair your split ends.


What to do with dead ends

due to lack of hydration

We’ve gotten to the worst part, unfortunately, because there’s no solution to dead ends. Your only option is to cut them. 

Do you know why you need to cut them?


Imagine that each piece of your hair is a cord that electricity passes through. If the end is broken, electricity keeps going through it, which makes for a huge loss of energy.

The same thing happens with your hair. It will waste the nutrients that don’t help your ends, which means that worst of all, having dead ends will end up weakening the rest of your hair.

By cutting off dead ends, your healthy hair will receive all the nutrients your roots send from your scalp, strengthening it.


Cutting off dead ends is the only way to help your hair recuperate from the damage the chemicals caused, and once you’ve cut off the ends, you can use moisturizing treatments that help repair any damage left in the rest of your hair.



Let’s get back to Maria’s story and the question I asked you. Did Maria have dead ends or split ends?


That’s right! Maria had dead ends, because the bleach she used in her hair burned them. But, the rest of her hair was just damaged.

So, I cut off her dead ends and used an intensive moisturizing treatment on the rest of her hair.


  • So, if you have dead ends, the only possible solution is to cut them off to avoid damaging the rest of your hair.
  • And, if you have split ends, you still have time to save them by using intensive moisturizing treatments, like masks or end-repairing oils.

Well, what’s the verdict for your hair?

Deja Tu Comentario