Happy Sunday! Formulate user Johnna recently wrote in with some questions about trimming hair:
I know I don't trim my hair as much as I should. My best girlfriend is a stylist and she always tells me I should get more trims than I do. And yes, I have some splits, but not that many! But aren't super regular trims kind of a racket? Sure, you need to cut the hair that's completely split, I get that. But if you have hair that looks just a little bit worn at the end, is that such a bad thing? Why shouldn't I continue to only get my hair trimmed like once a year? What are the benefits of trimming that are so great?
Thanks for writing, Johnna! To answer your questions, we spoke to our own in-house hair experts, as well as some experts from the beauty community. We hope you find the following helpful!
Nobody likes tangles - they hurt to brush out, take time to unravel, and look terrible. Even worse - if you brush them out with too much aggression, you can cause unintentional breakage. Fortunately, trimming dead and split ends makes tangles less likely to occur.
"You've probably noticed when you trim your hair that you're then able to comb straight through it, without any difficulties," says licensed cosmetologist Ghanima Abdullah. "Trimming the hair greatly reduces tangles and knots. That's because when the ends are split, they have likely lost a good portion of their protective cuticle. The inner shaft of the hair is exposed. The portion of the hair that is exposed has a different electrical charge that causes it to stick to portions of the hair that are healthy with the proper amount of cuticle. This causes tangles and knotting."
When you ditch those dead ends, you say goodbye to the knots that they create. A trim will help make brushing your hair a breeze.
Short hairstyles tend to have a lot more volume than longer hairstyles - hair is heavy, and the more hair you've got, the more your strands are weighed down. A trim is an easy way to decrease the overall weight of your hair, particularly if your strands are short. "When you trim short hair, it adds to the volume of the hair," says Abdullah. "It makes a vast difference, even if you only remove a centimeter."
We've all heard the myth that trimming your hair can make it grow faster. This myth has its roots (har har) in reality - while a trim won't affect the rate which hair grows from your scalp, it may help you to retain length.
Old hair is fragile, and is prone to breakage. This breakage creates the perception that hair is "stuck" at a certain length, and unable to grow further. Really, it's continuing to grow, it's just breaking off at the same rate that it's growing. Trims help to prevent uncontrolled breakage by removing the most damaged parts of your strands, allowing the rest of your hair to flourish.
If growth is your goal, solid communication with your stylist is key. "If you're worried about losing length with trims, let me offer some advice," says hairstylist Meleesa Luna. "Having clear references matters. Visualizing an inch and measuring an inch can yield very different results. Realistic measurements and open dialogue help build trust and ensure your expectations are met."
Since your ends are the oldest parts of your hair they've probably lost their luster. As hair ages, it loses elasticity. The cuticle, which is the hair fiber's outermost layer, becomes tattered and reflects light unevenly. This creates the appearance of dullness and an overall lack of shine.
"One often-overlooked benefit of trimming is its role in maintaining hair shine and luster," explains cosmetologist Anna Peterson. "Healthy ends reflect light better, giving your hair a more vibrant appearance. It helps to get rid of the damaged hair that can make your strands look dull and lifeless."
If you dropped a bunch of cash to get a high-maintenance hairdo, you're going to need to invest in regular trims. Because unless you specifically got a look is easy to grow out, you might not like how it looks as it gets longer. A hairdo that looked great a month ago might now resemble an unintentional mullet.
"It's not just about length; it's about architectural design," says Luna. "Hair isn't just a random cluster; it's shaped strategically to create different styles that enhance features. While the basic idea remains consistent, the creative process varies. Different hair lengths require distinct detailing to achieve the desired results."
Hey, it costs to be cool.
This probably won't be surprising to you if you've read this, or any other, hair blog before, but heat is really, really, really bad for hair. Though heat styling can facilitate some sleek and shiny 'dos, it ages the ends of your hair before their time.
"Because the ends are the oldest part of the hair length, using heat to style your hair can cause your ends to lose moisture quickly," says Abdullah. "When the ends lose moisture they become frizzy and may split and break. This process can happen very quickly with heat as heat tools are very drying."
Though trims can't prevent heat damage (you need heat protectant serums and sprays for that job), they remove the parts of your hair that are heat damaged past the point of no return.
Even if you don't mind the appearance of a few split ends, you'll need to address them sooner rather than later. After a split end develops, it spreads rapidly, causing the rest of the hair shaft to split. The effect is similar to how rips in clothing grow over time - what started as a small tear can quickly become much worse.
"Trimming split ends is essential to prevent hair breakage, says Barber Khamis Maiouf. "By trimming, you remove these weakened parts, promoting healthier hair growth. Think of trimming as maintenance. Just as we service cars to keep them running longer, we trim hair to maintain its health and ensure growth without breakage."
As you get older, your hair thins and becomes less shiny. Grey hair is more fragile than strands that are your natural color, and they're more likely to break off. Dying grey hairs makes the problem worse -it causes the strands to become even more fragile.
The unfortunate end result is ragged ends, which causes the face to appear aged. Trims alleviate this problem - the ragged parts of the hair are removed, leaving a youthful fullness.
Wanna learn more about the ins and outs of hair and skin care? Here's what you should read next:
5 tips for getting your natural curls back
Buh bye, flyaways!
Your how-to guide for dealing with curly hair in the humidity.
Everything you need to know about oil training your hair
Let's curl that hair!