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My beard has split ends – the quick, easy fixes!

Split ends when the ends of your beard are frayed and resemble a split rope. The causes of beard split ends include a dry beard, poorly conditioned beards as well as environmental conditions such as dry heat, UV rays, and wind. You can also create split ends by over grooming your beard with a brush as well as using a lot of harsh beard treatments such as chemical straightening and heat treatment. The reality for many beard growers is that they will get split ends at some point. This isn’t a fatal problem for your beard but it can cause your beard to look frizzy and particularly scraggly. In this article, we are going to go over the quick and easy fixes if you find that you have a number of split ends and we are also going to talk about the easiest ways to get your beard looking as good as possible!

If your beard has split ends you can fix it by using a leave in conditioner, trimming up your beard at least every six weeks, holding back on washing too often, using a wide tooth comb, using a heat protection spray as you are using different heat treatment processes, taking a supplement like bio tin or folic acid, and looking after your beard trimmers so they stay sharp.

Beard split ends may seem like they will never go away but with these simple tricks you will be able to control your beard split ends easily.

Are beard split ends bad?

Beard split ends are bad. They are bad because they expose the inner shaft of your beard hair to the environment. Beard hair is constructed of three main layers:

  • The central column is called the Medulla. This central column does not contain any pigment and it is not present in Vellus hair (the light hair is that turns into beard hair after puberty).
  • The cortex is the middle layer. This makes up the majority of the fibre (about 90% of the total weight) and is what gives the hair the majority of its strength. It contains the pigmented cells and is about 45 to 90 micro metres in diameter.
  • On the outside of the hair is the cuticle. It is like the protective shell of the hair and it is made up of about 5 to 10 layers of flattened sales that looked like roof tiles. The free edge of the scales point towards the end of the hair and there is a small protective cement like material that joins these roof tiles together.

The outside cuticle is a significant barrier against product penetration and water diffusion. The qualities of the softness, ease of combing, and the shine of the hair or depend on the healthy state of the cuticle and its overlapping scales.

The moment that the inside of the hair can get exposed to any environmental conditions it can quickly dry out the hair from the inside out and cause damage to increase and make its way up the beard hair. This results in much drier and more brittle hair than any other type of damage.

Split ends are not all created equally and there are different types of split ends which we shall talk about now.

There types of split ends

Although the underlying cause of each type of beard split ends is the same (dryness and weathering) the way that the hair responds to splitting depends on the hair structure and how far up the hair the damage progresses.

There are three main types of split ends:

  • snake tongue – this looks like a snake tongue where it is equally forked at the end of the hair. In other words one hair turns into two equal sections at the end forming a Y.
  • Complete removal of the outer cuticle – this is where the beard hair looks as if it has been stripped like a wire is stripped of its outside plastic coating. This is where the complete outer layer of the hair is removed and all that remains is the inner section without any protection.
  • Branching – this is where the hair has undergone several individual splits and it resembles a tree. It could be that one side of the hair has more splits than other and this creates an unbalanced branching of cortical cells. This shows that you have relatively advanced beard hair splitting and you should consider a deep hydration treatment or a serious trim up as quickly as possible. Perhaps branching is caused by exposure to harsh weathering so if you work outside or in a harsh environment you may see this more than the average person.

All of these different types of beard hair splits are bad and need to have urgent treatment to make sure they don’t further damaged the hair or cause it to become brittle and easier to damage through brushing.

Although these three main types of beard hair splitting are easy to explain they can be relatively difficult to identify on your own beard. Let’s take a look at how you can find out if your beard has a significant problem with split ends.

How do you know if your beard has split ends?

If your beard has split ends the first thing you will notice is not the splitting itself but the symptoms of having split ends.

If you are having a significant issue with beard split ends the first things that you notice are dulling of the hair as well as a general dryness which looks like frizzy and scraggly beard hairs. If you want to know more about why your beard is scraggly check out my two articles. The first one is all about why your beard look scraggly – click here – and the other one is all about a scraggly beard fix with five simple options for getting your beard looking as good as possible – click here.

Dullness

Beards that have a significant amount of split ends appear very dull. The dullness comes from the fact that the cuticle outside scales of the beard hairs are not laying flat stop if your beard looks particularly dull and frizzy at the ends of the hair this is a rate symptom for you to notice for identifying if your beard has split ends. Having a nice shiny beard lying flat and that there is no issue with split ends.

Dryness

Dryness is one of the most damaging things that can happen to your beard. Dryness is an issue that a lot of bearded men race at some point in their beard growing journey. That is because as the beard hair gets longer it is much harder for the face to produce enough oil (sebum) to keep the ends of the beard nice and moisturised.

This is where you are often told to use a Beard oil with jojoba oil as its main component as jojoba oil is a natural analog to the oil produced by the face.

Use a magnifying glass

If you find that your beard is both dull and dry the next step is to look closely at the ends of the beard hairs. Quite often I find that it is easy to look at the beard hairs that I have lost and use a magnifying glass to look at the ends of the beard hair. If you don’t have a magnifying glass you can just identify most split ends with the naked eye but I find that having a magnifying glass makes it all much easier to identify.

What you are looking for are hairs which fork at the end or are significantly thinner due to the loss of the outside cuticle protective layer. If you find that easily identify a number of hairs in a particular section of your beard with split ends you should consider immediate action. If, on the other hand, you have only a couple of split ends you can spend some time working out the best approach for you.

But of course, the question remains can you fix split ends – or do you just chop them off?

Can you fix split ends?

Once your beard hair has split you cannot put the hair back together again. The only fix for split ends is to chop them off with a sharp pair of scissors or a sharp trimming blade. The best approach to fixing split ends is prevention rather than cure.

Despite there being a load of products online which say that you can use their product to restore the split ends it is simply impossible to return the hair to its previous armed split form.

In the next section we are going to look at the preventative fixes for split ends.

How do you treat split ends in a beard

Treating a beard with split ends is relatively simple as long as you know the simple tricks and products for prevention. Because each person’s beard is different you may find that you need to spend more effort preventing split ends than someone else. This is due to their genetic markers in your body which are responsible for producing sebum on the face.

Here are the things that you should consider if you are noticing that your beard is susceptible to getting split ends regularly.

Trim every six weeks

The first thing that you should consider if your beard has a significant number of short ends is to trim it up every six weeks. Trimming up every six weeks means that you are removing the damage that is caused by weathering at the very ends of your hair. Because hair grows from the route you will be sure to always be cutting off the oldest part of the hair which is most likely to be damaged and splitting.

Trimming up every six weeks can be done by a barber and it can be increased to every eight weeks if you are attempting to grow your hair out. Check out my YouTube video of how often to trim up your beard when growing out to work out how often you should trim your beard if you are growing it:

Leave in conditioners

Using leave in conditioners is one of the best things that you can do to keep your beard hydrated and well nourished. If you want a run down on the best beard conditioners for your beard that is beyond beard oil and balm check out my other article where I give you a rundown on the 10 best beard conditioners that can be found online – click here.

One of the most common beard leave in conditioners is beard oil. When I first learned about beard oil it was something that I was a little bit sceptical of because I wondered how exactly a oil would hydrate my beard. However, after using it for a number of months I noticed a significant improvement in the softness and shininess of my beard. Exactly what I wanted!

Beard oil

Buying a good quality beard oil is something that every bearded man should consider! Beard oil is left in your beard and not washed out. I apply my beard oil in the morning after a shower and before a light blow drying. The only time that you do not leave a beard oil in is if you are going for dehydration treatment where you put a lot of beard oil in and leave it for 20 minutes. Doing this dehydration treatment is a process that you can use every couple of months. This is the process that I recommend you follow:

  1. Get a hot towel (as hot as you can stand) and wrap it around your face and beard – leave it for two to five minutes.
  2. Buy a good beard oil and use a thumb tip amount and liberally apply to every area on your beard – work it deep with your fingertips
  3. Use a wide-toothed comb to word the conditioner deep into your beard and to the surface of your skin.
  4. Place a shower cap over your beard and leave it for 20 minutes – this will ensure maximum absorption
  5. Rinse your beard with water and towel dry your beard
  6. Add 5 drops of beard oil to your palm and work it through your beard
  7. Follow up with a beard balm or butter if you want to

Be sure to add a good quality beard oil to your kit! Because beard oil manufacturers at different types of ingredients in each beard oil it can be hard to find one that does exactly what you want and in this case we want a deep hydrating oil. If you don’t want to buy a beard oil you can also buy the individual ingredients for a beard oil and apply that to your beard separately.

Great beard oil ingredients for split ends include panthenol, Argan oil, and sweet almond oil.

Panthenol

Panthenol is a common ingredient that you can find in a number of beard products. It has the ability to attract moisture to itself which helps build healthier beard hair. Panthenol is a pro-vitamin A of B5 which means that when it is in your body it will convert it into vitamin B5.

Look out for a concentration of panthenol in your product of about 5% for maximum effect. It can be used on nearly every type of hair and skin type and even helps promote wound healing if you are finding that you have acne at the base of your beard hair. A fantastic product that does wonders for your split ends.

Argan oil

Argan oil has been used in Morocco. True is and it comes from the kernels of the fruit of the Argan tree. Argan oil is a fantastic source of fatty acids and it also has a high level of vitamin D which are both ingredients that will make your hair look and feel awesome! You can apply Argan oil directly to damp or dry hair to improve the amount of moisture in your hair as well as reduced breakage. It is sometimes included in shampoos or conditioners so check to see what is in your shampoo.

If it’s your first time using it start with small amounts to see if your beard hair ends up looking greasy. If you have a particularly good sebum production on your face the application of Argan oil can make your beard look heavy and greasy quickly.

Sweet almond oil

Ancient Chinese practitioners have used armoured oil to help smooth and soften the hair. It is found in a wide variety of beard products and is fantastic because it contains a lot of vitamin A, vitamin E, Omega fatty acids, and zinc.

Apply small amounts to your beard if you find that your split ends are particularly troublesome and numerous.

Don’t wash too often

Washing your beard can easily dry out your hair is as shampoos strip the natural oils from the hair and face.

Only wash your beard once every 2 to 3 days and make sure the use a shampoo that doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. If you want to know the best beard soaps check out my other article where I go through the best beard soaps and provide an ultimate guide to make it easy for you – click here.

Wide tooth comb

Using a wide tooth comb or a natural hair bristle brush will be the thing which will save your beard from mechanical damage from over brushing. Brushing your beard too much can result in breakage and split ends and the science is there to back it up!

Beard breakage when combing

A paper published in 1995 in the journal of the Society of cosmetic chemistry Japan, look at the formation of split ends by hair brushing. In that work they looked at the cosmetic treatments on the generation of split ends and used an auto brushing machine to accelerate the hair damage which would normally be obtained after many months of brushing. The important factor that the researchers identified was that the split ends formation was due to the structural changes of the matrix proteins of the hair fibres. They found that diethylene glycol monoethylether (Ethyl Carbitol) was an effective treatment in inhibiting the split ends generation of permed hair.

This means that you need to choose your comb carefully and you shouldn’t use any force while brushing your hair.

Use a heat protection spray

If you regularly use beard straighteners you should consider buying a heat protection spray protecting your hair from the high temperatures that he experiences while using heat treatments.

Check out all of the heat treatment sprays that you can buy on Amazon – click here.

A heat protection spray contains chemicals which absorb the heat and should also contain other chemicals which allow you to easily comb your hair. This should create a super sleek and smooth style.

Take supplements such as biotin and folic acid

I’m not one for often recommending that you take supplements but supplements such as biotin and folic acid can be very useful if you are having a significant issue with split ends.

Biotin and folic acid are things that your hair uses to create keratin and stay very strong. Taking the supplements could be the thing which turns your beard into a strong and split and free beard.

You can check out all of the biotin supplements available on Amazon – click here.

And you can also see all of the folic acid supplements – click here.

Look after your trimmers and scissors!

One of the last things that you should check if you have a significant amount of split ends is the sharpness of your trimmers. If your trimmers are dull they can easily rip at the hair as opposed to cutting it cleanly. Any bad ripping or cutting of the hair can introduce a significant number of split ends so use common sense and look at your trimmers!

Trimmor blades should be replaced after one year of use and you should oil up and clean your blades every week or more if you are using it often. I like to use my trimmer oil each time I use my trimmers and I make sure that no hairs are trapped between the trimming blades.

Likewise, if you have a pair of scissors that you use regularly make sure that you get them sharpened by a professional so that they retain their cutting action and do not rip at the hairs. A good pair of scissors will cut through hair with ease and not require multiple passes.

Conclusion

If your beard has split ends there are a number of preventative methods that you can use to ensure that your hair remains split and free. There isn’t a treatment for split ends and once they have split you cannot return to usual but prevention will be the greatest tool in your arsenal against split ends.

Keep your beard hydrated and well moisturised and I am sure that your beard will continue to look awesome for many years to come!

The Author


Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!