Search & destroy: How to correctly get rid of split ends4 min read

“Search and destroy” or (S&D) is a hair trimming method that was coined on Internet hair forums to describe hair trims that only target specific split hair shafts. Search and destroy trimming is exactly what the name implies: you search through the hair, identify split ends to snip, then destroy them with a pair of scissors. In normal trims, an entire section of hair is trimmed to get rid of a few split ends. In search and destroy trims, individual hairs are singled out and snipped just above the split or hair fracture location, one hair at a time.

Benefits of the S&D Trim Method is mostly around saving hair length and keeping split ends in check. Most of us only have a few split ends sprinkled throughout our hair. The proportion of split, damaged hairs to healthy normal ones is often quite small. Since search and destroy trims only target and trim ends that are damaged and actually splitting, you avoid having to trim the neighboring healthy hairs which are typically the majority, therefore saving the length and preventing further damage for the impacted hair. You can trim through your hair without losing any noticeable length.

Another benefit of search and destroy trims is that anyone can do these. They require no skill whatsoever: just good lighting and pair of scissors which you only use for hair and not anything else.. If you can see a split, and know how to work a pair of scissors, you are good to go. 

Search and destroy trims are so light and noninvasive that they are barely noticeable. No one ever walks away feeling upset or having to adjust to a “new look” as is often the case with a standard trim.

Steps to trim split ends

You’ll need: Good lighting, 1 Sharp pair of hair shears/scissors, comb, and moisturizer.

Get your lighting. Natural daylight or desk lamp work well for search and destroys. Good lighting will expose your splits and help them show up better.

  1. First, section your hair into 4 quadrants by making a line from hairline to nape, and make another line from ear to ear. This should give you 2 front sections, and 2 back sections.
  2. Gently detangle the hair starting with one of the top 2 sections.
  3. Gather the section together, then slide your hand down the length until you have about an inch left to go.
  4. Flip the ends up, and scan them for split ends. Identify any bent (hard angle) ends that are about to snap, or hair that just looks like it has seen better days. Snip these hairs carefully straight across just above the damage.
  5. Staying in this first section, part your hair in 1 inch intervals. Search for splits in each 1 inch mini-section. Snip the splits!
  6. Continue searching and destroying until section is complete.
  7. Moisturise the section, then twist the hair all the way down. Look for any splits you may have missed. They will be sticking out. Snip them!
  8. Repeat steps 2-7 in the remaining sections.

It is important to note that split ends occur for a reason and while search & destroy are helpful getting rid of the symptoms, you have to look at the cause of split ends. Most common reasons for split ends include:

  • Thermal, chemical or mechanical stress can cause split ends. For example, the use of curling irons and other heat treatments cause split ends.
  • Excessive application of hair products such as perms and hair coloring may strip protective layering off the outside of the hair’s shaft and weaken the hair, making the hair prone to split ends. 
  • Mechanical stresses include pulling a comb forcefully through tangled hair and repeated combing. 
  • Tight ponytails and hair do’s
  • Lack of moisture and nourishment especially in environment with artifical temperature control (AC or central heating)

Looking for the right solution for treating your split ends? Take our 6-step hair quiz to find out which hair oil works better for your hair type, environment and your personal hair goals:

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