Reader Mail: Do I Have To Cut Thin Ends?

A reader asks: My hair has been texturized for a year now, and I seem to be having a problem with thin ends, thin ends that you can see through. Is there anyway I can thicken it up or would I just have to chop it off? What do you suggest?

Oh yes, you definitely want to get rid of thin, see-through ends. Thin ends detract from the overall look of our hair, and as there is strength in numbers, when our ends are even they are able to withstand the force of manipulating much better than thin ends. Here’s an illustration from an old post:

 

You could either opt to cut them all in one go or you could opt to cut them slowly over time (e.g. cutting an inch every 3 months) so long as you take steps to prevent the thinning from moving up the hair shaft.

I’ve walked both paths and I can’t say that one is better than the other, there are simply upsides and downsides. The benefit of cutting your thins all at once is that once it’s done. it’s done. There’s no going back and it may even feel like a weight has been lifted (at least for me it did) and you can enjoy your new ends and start making plans on how to maintain them. One downside to doing one big cut is the sense of shock and disappointment you may feel if you’re cutting off a good amount. At the end of 2010 I was dealing with thinning ends and decided to get them all cut off in one go. It felt great to let them go but I did end up missing mourning the bit of length they gave me.

This post cut picture is the best my ends have ever looked! Kind of makes me want to pick up my shears right now…

The second route, to cut over time, is the “playing it safe” route (and the one I’m currently on). By slowly cutting off your thin ends you give yourself time to maintain the length you currently have (i.e. grow an inch, cut an inch) and when you’ve finally cut away the last of the thin ends, it’s not such a shock. Conversely, by waiting to cut off the thin ends, you may find (like me) that seeing them wash after wash day is frustrating lol. I think it’s key when waiting to cut over time to make sure you’ve pinpointed what is causing your ends to thin so that history does not repeat itself. The last thing you want is to slowly cut away thin ends only to have them continue to thin and even move up the hair shaft.

Suggestions: Pinpoint what is causing the thinning and try to tweak your regimen/daily styles to prevent further thinning. Here are a few things you could try: 

  • (1) I’ve found Organix Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum helpful. It helps strengthen my ends against breakage. I especially love to apply a tiny bit to my ends when I’m wearing my hair down.
  • (2) Keeping ends moisturized.
  • (3) Decreasing direct heat.
  • (4) Keeping ends away from your clothes. Hair can easily rub against our clothes, snagging and breaking.
  • (5) CHI Keratin Mist (ApHogee Keratin & Green Tea will work too) has been helping give my hair boosts of protein and strength between wash days.

I hope this helps!

23 Comments

  1. Hi,Jeni I suffer from thin ends I recently had a trim with my last relaxer I just recently started my hair journey my question is I wear wigs as one of my protective styles with my hair braided underneath how can I make sure that my ends are getting the right amount of moisture they need,and how can I make sure they are protected if that makes sense.

  2. Thanks for the great post. I have been trying to give up heat. It's been two weeks so far, and I hope it will help me prevent the thin ends

  3. Hi Jen, thanks for this post. I've been agonising all week over what to do about my ends. I started my HHJ 5 months ago and took off about 3 inches. My problem is that a large portion of my nape area ( about a 1/4 of my head) was all Brocken off when I started ( it's about 3 inches now). This makes my ends look even thinner ( I have no split ends and my ends are even) my ends are abit thin any way from previous breakage. My question is:
    – Should I trim every 3 months as you suggested give the nape time to grow
    – should I wait for my nape area to grow out then trim it all even
    Any suggestions or advise is welcome! Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Anon, my nape was much, much shorter than the rest of of my hair when I started my HHJ and I think I trimmed every other touch up to save a little length while giving my nape some time to grow out. I ended up getting a cut after 8 months (I think) to even every it all out.

      If you go with the first option you mentioned, trimming regularly might prevent the rest of your ends from suffering too much breakage since you mentioned they're a bit thin from previous break. On the other hand, the second option maybe bring a little piece of mind if you'd like to retain a bit of length, but holding off on trims might cause breakage in the remaining thin ends.

      Depending on how thin your nape is making the rest of your hair look and how often your wear your hair down, definitely choose the option you'll feel most comfortable with.

    2. Hi Jen, tks for this really appreciate it!

  4. just cut almost 2 inches off. I was suppose to wait until relaxer day. Which was supposed to be at the end of the month I will be 14 wks. But since I cant seem to see the difference between my new growth and textlaxed hair. Im gonna try and hold out until Dec. Maybe we can do a challenge or goal or something.

  5. Great topic, i had split/thin ends after having my son and back in mid June, a hairstylist told me I needed 2inches off! My heart dropped but I told her to just do it. So there went two inches but happy to say all that did was motivate me to start my hhj and grow those 2 "poor" inches back as fast and healthy as poosible. Happy to report I'm well on my way and soooo glad I got them cut off when I did instead of waiting and possibly needing more thin ends off now. 🙂

  6. I think I prefer the first route of cutting them off all at once, but you're so right. You end up mourning the loss and start thinking about where your length could have been had you not made the blunt cut. Despite that a major cut makes it easier to see your length progress and gives you a new starting place. I'm just going to limit myself to one blunt cut per year and trims for the rest of the time, lol.

  7. Great info as always Jeni. I'm slowly cutting thin ends too though it's always tempting to just chop it all off in one go x

  8. Awesome advice! I struggle with when to trim/cut all the time. I just have to remind myself that these thin aren't going to get any better. Eventually you'll have to trim them anyway. It's definitely more important to engage in proactive prevention then reactive maintenance.

    KLP @ SavingOurStrands

  9. Great post, as always, Jeni!

    I would love to get your (and anyone else's 🙂 opinion on my "thin ends" issue. I go to a stylist for relaxers only (3-4x/yr max), and she insisted I cut 2-4 inches of thin ends. She said my ends are not damaged, split, or breaking, just thin. I'm hesitant to follow her advice bc it seems like the thin ends are faster growing strands, not the result of any damage or breakage. When I've cut them in the past, I get more "thin ends" as my hair grows. My hair is very fine (even when I wore my hair natural, it was fine), low porosity, processes very quickly, and currently 2-3 inches from BSL. My regimen is basically the following: shampoo and DC 2x/wk; protein as needed (not very often); moisturize and seal last 3-4 inches of hair daily; direct heat maybe once every 2 months; low manipulation styles daily; sleep in 2 french braids under a silk scarf. So… in your opinion, should I cut the ends, or leave them until I reach my hair goals, and then trim up for evenness? I don't wear my hair down much, so the appearance of evenness isn't a concern for me at this point. Thanks in advance!

    1. Author

      Thanks Anon. It sounds like your ends are thin not due to damage but because they're lead hairs. As their name suggests, lead hairs 'lead' the pack, they grow out faster than the surrounding hairs. They seem like thin ends because they're all on their own haha. And it sounds like your stylist has confirmed your hair is healthy overall (which is awesome!).

      In my opinion, because you don't wear your hair down much and the evenness doesn't bother you, I'd say just let them be. You might find that if you skip a trim, the surround hairs will catch up to the lead hairs and you may gain some eveness.

    2. Thanks SO much, Jeni! I appreciate it!

  10. Ok I've been trying to comment from my phone for the past ten minutes. I was DETERMINED to say something here…whew! Anywhoo, as you know I did the latter and although happy with my decision bc I just didn't have it in me to lose the length all at once, I agree that cutting it from jump is easier. Now I'm about to catch up on your blog happenings but sheezus forgive my lack of comments in advance. Phones are no good for blog commenting!

  11. I'm on the slow and steady path as well right now. It does frustrate me to see them on wash day and I find myself wearing protective styles even more, not only to protect my ends, but to avoid seeing that thinness. I do sometimes feel like just going ahead and chopping it all at once. It's never too late. LOL!
    Great tips! 🙂

  12. Great post! As someone who once suffered from thin ends I found it easiest to cut them all at once because looking at them was driving me crazy. I also use a dollop of Jamaican Black Castor oil on my ends to help keep them mositurized and strong!

  13. Mine need to be cut like asap! I have braids in at the moment but I plan on cutting off about 1.5 inches once I take the braids out. I've been using the CHI Keratin Mist on my hair and braids almost everyday so hopefully my hair doesn't fair too badly when I take out my braids.

  14. Good advice. Thin ends can look really bad especially if they are uneven.
    I guess it dependeds on what hair type you have. I have really thick hair and I used to thin out the ends with a special pair of scissors to avoid having My hair looking like an A or a pyramid.
    It is important also to remember that the hair that is left (ie the thin ends) are the strong hair, the weak strands are the ones that have broken off.

    Anyhows, i love blunt thick hair so i trim My ends very often ��

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