The Three Layers of Hair: What Causes Split Ends and How to Prevent Them

Having trouble combing your hair? Or has your hair been looking dull and coarse lately? Don’t worry, Nereus is here as your hair bestie to get you through your bad hair day!

The first step to restoring your beautiful hair naturally is to know as much as you can about your hair, so let’s start today with what causes split ends and hair breakage 

The cause of split ends and hair breakage actually has to do with the main structure of your hair shaft. Our hair has three layers that give it structure, colour, and shine. Continue reading to find out how they’re interconnected and by the end, you’ll be able to flaunt your hair with confidence. 

The Three Layers of Hair

  1. The Protective Layer

Also known as the outermost layer, the cuticle protects the inside of the hair shaft from damage. You can think of it as the roof over your head, because it is composed of overlapping cells arranged like tiles on a roof (but facing downwards). Plus, it acts as a shelter for the inner layers. 

How important is the cuticle?

The answer is very. As the protective envelope of the other two layers, the fate of your hair lies in the cuticle. The ease of combing, untangling, as well as the softness and shine of your hair all depend on the state of your cuticles. They maintain your hair’s hydration by minimising the movement of moisture in and out of the underlying cortex. 

You need to be careful not to over-process your cuticles, as you can cause damage to them and disrupt this hydration balance. Weathering and chemical processes will lift the layer and weaken the integrity of your hair, thus causing your hair to become dry and brittle. 

Suffice to say, keep this protective layer healthy and you’ll be rewarded with the shiny appearance you crave!

  1. The Elastic Layer

Moving on, the thickest layer, which makes up to 90% of your hair’s total weight, is the cortex. It constitutes the pigment (colour) and the main bulk of your hair. The cortex heavily relies on the cuticle layer for protection because it is fragile by nature. It does not have the superpower to heal itself, yet it is supposed to provide strength, colour, and texture to one’s hair shaft. 

If your cuticles aren’t healthy enough to offer protection, the middle layer of the hair becomes exposed and its protein fibres will unravel; this is what causes “split ends”.

  1. The Central Layer

Also known as the medulla, this layer is mostly only present in those who have thick hair, which means if your hair is fine, you probably don’t have it!

This layer is near invisible and even more fragile than the cortex. Found in thicker hair types, it is loosely packed, disorganised, and hardly pigmented. However, the medulla does not really do anything for your hair so it is not a very big deal if you do not have this soft, thin layer. 

Split ends

This denotes the fraying or splitting of the hair shaft. It occurs when the hair's cortex is exposed due to a damaged cuticle layer. Hair breakage, dead ends, dry hair ends, and split ends are all results of this. 

There has been a misconception that split ends are only found at the ends of your hair, but the truth is that they can occur anywhere. And once they do, they make your hair dull, coarse, and nearly impossible to manage and style. 

How to repair the damage

Fortunately, as they say, a little goes a long way. Here are a few small changes you should make to your haircare routine to get rid of split ends:

  1. Use natural products formulated to revive and strengthen your hair. 

A good conditioner or hair mask can help add shine and nourishment to the hair. But look out for harsh chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, and sulphates; these harmful ingredients found in some hair products could further damage your already brittle hair. 

  1. Be gentle with your hair

Allow your hair to air dry whenever you can as the high heat of hair dryers can sometimes be very tough on our hair… Also, be sure to avoid hard-brushing and use a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair. Detangling is very important! 

Try combing your hair the next time before stepping into the shower. Don’t forget to pair our Hydrating Natural Conditioner which does all the miracles listed in step 1 with our Detoxifying Natural Shampoo to achieve that extra volume and strength. Trust the process, and you’ll see the results soon enough!

If you haven’t got them already, go for the Natural Haircare Duo to save some pounds!

Come back next time for more in the All About Hair blog series.