Trimming Natural Hair- A Quick Guide Tutorial

Let me start off by stating that split ends is the Achilles heal of the curly and natural hair world. It much easier for the strands of a curly haired individual to wrap itself around another, making hair more prone to split ends. The tighter or curlier the coil(see Hair Type Chart), the more prone. Cutting or trimming natural hair split ends will keep these little rascals at bay. Not doing so will not promote growth or help retain length. It’s the direct opposite. Hair grows at an average of 1/4 to 1/2 a month regardless of what you do. Some will see more growth by taking certain steps but all hair grows around the length per month. Letting split ends go without trimming in an effort to save or “salvage” your hair, will promote and increase breakage and further damage. If this happens, you will have to go to a professional hair care salon for them to do a major cut! Let’s take a look at what split ends really are.

Split Ends Are….

-hair strands that are split at the ends and continue up the shaft.

-formed when the inside of the hair shaft or cortex split, traditionally a the ends

Popular Causes of Split Ends Are….

-excessive use of curling irons, hot irons, electrical heat products, blow dryers, pressing combs and the likes

-stressful hair techniques, including improper or harsh detanglling and combing, excessive combing and brushing

-stressful hair styles, including wearing a particular style for long periods of time, example: wearing tight ponytails for an extended time-frame.

-Damage to the cortex and cuticle caused by harsh chemical treatments, such as relaxers, permanent dyes, etc.

-Faulty and incorrect use of barrettes and bobby pins.

-Hard water and swimming pool water. All of these are filled with chlorine and if used or done too often, it can damage the cortex of the hair strand, ultimately causing split ends.


Here is a photo of various types of split ends…


With natural or curly hair, sometimes, the split ends manifest is what we call “fairy knots“. I hate these little boogers. Fairy Knots or “single strand knots” are knots that are present on the hair strand. They can be found in various spots on the hair strands, including, the ends, middle or top. The upper knots are caused when the end of the shaft have already split up! These are a direct result of split ends. In order to keep these to a minimum, I recommend trimming them!

If asked, most believe the myth that there are miracle products that “get rid of split ends”. This is far from the truth. There are no product known to man that can get rid of these, regardless of what a product advertises. There are some that are on the market to help keep hair conditioned and moisturized, keeping wear and tear low, decreasing one’s chancing of getting split ends. Let’s see proven ways to avoid split ends on natural hair.

Way To Prevent Split Ends Are….

-Keep ends moisturized by applying a water-based moisturizer or water, then sealing them with an oil(grease, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil, castor oil, etc.) or cream sealant. Dry ends lends to split ends. By keeping hair ends moisturized, you can prevent or minimize split ends. I use my Shea Butter mixture recipe to seal my hair after either applying moisture, a water-based leave-in or Kimmaytube leave-in recipe. If you choose to wear heated styles, try styles that require less heat such as strawsets and rollersets.

-Stay away from excessive heat. Delete or keep heat usage to a minimum. I only use a blow dryer once or twice a year to do something different with my hair and I only flat iron once a year. Find a regimen that will avoid or keep it down!

-Wear protective styles! This has been a lifesaver for my 4c, coily hair. Protective styles are style also known as “leave it alone” styles. They are styles that you do where your ends are protected and or tucked away, preventing them from being exposed to the elements of nature, rubbing up against your clothing and they help to retain hair moisture. These include, buns, twists, braids, cornrows, updos, etc.

-Maintainence the ends of your hair. After initially trimming off the split ends of your hair, the job is not over! You should trim on a regular basis to prevent future split ends from occurring. Using these preventative measures will ensure the salvage of your delicate ends, thus improve growth retention. The ends of your hair are the oldest part of your hair and needs proper care, moisture and conditioning to decrease splitting and breaking. Be gentle with your hair,it will hate you if you handle it rough. When its feeling dry, try using deep conditioning treatments, your hair will love it!

-Seasonal weather protection. During the extreme heat of the summer and dry, harsh cold temps of the winter, our hair is extremely prone to becoming dry and brittle, which can lead to breakage.In the summer and winter months, take extra precaution by applying a moisturizer or leave in before leaving the house.

-Stay away from rubber bands!! Use Ouchless ponytail holders or elastics instead. Rubber bands lead to breakage.

-Dust in between trims. Some mistake dusting for trimming. Dusting is trimming only approximately 1/8 inch off the ends. Only do this if your ends are in good shape for maintainence and keep split ends from having the chance to form.

-Replace faulty bobby pins and barrettes immediately! If you’ve noticed that the heads of your bobby pins are missing, throw them away. When they get like this, using them will definitely cause breakage and split ends. You can buy a pack of 100 for around $2.

There are numerous ways that you can trim your natural hair. Many choose to go to a professional and let them do it but many, including myself, can afford often visits to the salon. I’m living on a budget! Also, so many naptural’s and curlies have went to the salon only to leave with a cut instead of a trim. Some stylists become “scissor happy” in my opinion. A decent trim is 1/4-1/2 depending on the amount needing to be trimmed or damaged. With that being said, you can trim your own hair just as efficiently as going to the salon. A trim

Four DIY Ways To Trim Split Ends

1. Braid and Trim: This involves braiding your hair into small or medium braids and trimming the ends. See a pic below of how to determine how much of the braid is actually split ends.

2. Twist and Trim: This involves putting hair into small or medium twist sections. This method is similar to the braid method mentioned above but using twists instead.

3. Search and Destroy: This is coined “search and destroy” because it involves searching your hair to find split ends on each curl. S&D’s are time consuming, tedious and not for the faint of heart. Furthermore, it should only be used if you have a visible curl pattern not coils. Those with looser curl patterns, like type 2-4a hair types, can really be successful at this method. Its harder for those of us with type 4b/c hair to do this only because its hard to actually see the split end at the end of each strand. Our hair is coily so its hard to see each curl.

4. Blow Dry/Straighten then Trim: Many prefer to blow dry or straighten their hair in order to trim the split ends. If you usually wear your hair straight, you might find that this is the best technique for you. This involves blow drying and or flat-ironing/straightening your hair, combing or brushing to the ends of small sections, holding the ends in your fingers then trimming the split portion.

Tips, Tips and more Tips!!:

*Always trim your hair with hair shears. Avoid regular scissors because they can cause rips and tears within the hair strand causing additional split ends or breakage.

*Sit up and sit straight when trimming so that your hair can be even all over. If you have shorter hair, ask a friend or family member to help, especially in the back.

*Take your time and be patient when trimming

*You can trim on wet or dry hair. I prefer trimming on dry hair, especially when doing the braid or twist and trim method. It’s makes seeing the split ends easier.

*Trim only the amount needed, as often as needed. Try to find a trimming regimen that works for you and your hair. I trim my hair once every three months, unless I see an increasing number of knots and ball.


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