Part I: The case for breaking out the scissors
When it comes to damaged ends, there seem to be two camps, polar opposites, each defiantly extreme in their approach towards the delicate tips of our hair. One, the hold-on-to-your-length-at-all-costs brigade is composed of women desperate to maintain or achieve long hair, even if most of that length is confined to tapering, see-through wisps in sharp contrast to thicker hair further up the shaft. The other, the snip-off-those-splits-on-first-sight squad is on a never-ending mission to seek out split ends, chopping them off with a vengeance wherever they find them. So who's got it right? As is typical in tightly curled, textured haircare, the answer here is tricky; let's lay out the case for each side:
The case for breaking out the scissors:
We've heard it ad nauseum from stylists and haircare columnists in our favourite magazines: get your ends cut every 6-8 weeks or you'll get split ends. Get your ends cut every 6-8 weeks or it'll look uneven. Or, our favourite: Get your ends cut every 6-8 weeks or it won't grow! Now, how much of this is scaremongering by hairstylists to ensure a steady flow of customers and how much of it is reality?
We all know that the ends of our hair are the oldest part of our hair and thus the most fragile and susceptible to damage. For most hair, regular trims not only keep the hairstyle looking neat and even, they are an essential part of reducing raggedy ends which cause tangles and whose damage can spread further up the hair shaft.
Do they really get so damaged that they need to face the chop every six weeks? Well, that answer depends on your hair type and haircare routine, but in most cases it will likely be no. Keep in mind that these guidelines arose at a time when most people with naturally curly hair had a relaxer, and likely, colour also. Apart from chemical retouches every couple of months, these same people were likely to get their hair heatstyled, with a blowdryer and iron, at least every couple of weeks, not including curling iron touchups (damage alert!) on not-so-fresh hair in-between. There was also a shortage of quality products and haircare information tailored to their texture. So hair that is double processed, frequently heatstyled, and under-moisturised (which is what your hair almost certainly is if you only wash it every two weeks), will definitely be a lot more susceptible to damage, and thus a lot more frequently in need of having its ends seen to.
If your hair doesn't fit this description, you can comfortably space your trims out much more, taking as your guide the condition your ends are in and the typical time frame it takes to get them there. For most people, the change in the condition of their ends is clearly noticeable at 3-4 months post-trim, though some might stretch trims further apart to cut a larger amount off at one time or because their haircare ritual is so tight that it takes much longer for damage to show up.
How frequently you should get your hair cut also depends on the amount you are getting cut off. Many naturalheads for example, rely on dusting, or microtrims, in which tiny portions of the ends are cut off frequently and pre-emptively, to keep the ends from tapering off. Tapered ends are more prone to tangling so getting rid of them gives hair the added advantage of reduced snarls, thus cutting down on stress and manipulation to the hair, resulting in better length retention.
And when it comes to style considerations, if you have a precision cut, or hair that grows quickly and loses its shape easily, you might need to get your hair cut with added frequency, regardless of its condition.
So that sums up the case for keeping the trims coming like clockwork. Check out Part II tomorrow for the case for leaving your length as is and the final verdict!
DHA Hair Care Experts