It Might be Time to Re-Think Your Daily Ponytail

For any girl or guy with long hair, ponytails are a staple in the realm of haircare. Throwing your hair up and securing it with an elastic helps mask grease, keeps hair off your face and neck and is particularly helpful in the summertime or while at the gym. Unfortunately, loving the ponytail too much can lead to some nasty consequences for your hair.

Yes, that’s right—your daily super-simple, two-second hairstyle might be causing damage to your hair and scalp. You’ve probably felt the uncomfortable weight of a ponytail after having your hair pulled back for too long one day or have seen a few broken hairs wrapped around your elastic when letting your hair loose. You may have even experienced a headache from your ultra-sleek style. All of these are signs that your pony is putting stress on your hair.

The problem with ponytails

Wearing a tight ponytail puts direct stress on your scalp—particularly the hairline—as well as your hair shafts. Routinely putting your hair through this stress can lead to long-term damage, from fraying hair to bald spots.

One way your daily pony might be causing damage is through breakage of the hair shaft. Hair ties can rub and snag on your hair, especially when they’re worn in the same place over and over, which might cause stress and leave you with uneven hairs and a frizzy-looking ‘do.

Additionally, hair ties might break or pull hair out because of the ponytail fastener. Hair ties with metal clamps or exposed rubber can snag hair and tangle it, potentially breaking it in the process. Choose hair ties that are completely covered by fabric and avoid those that have metal or other fasteners that could snag or break hair.

Another major problem with daily ponytails is the stress they put on your scalp. Tight ponytails put tension on the scalp, which can lead to hair falling out prematurely. When this happens a lot, it causes a condition called traction alopecia.

What is traction alopecia?

Traction alopecia is a hair loss condition characterized by loss of hair on the hairline or other parts of the crown due to constant tension and pulling of the hair. Wearing your hair in consistently tight ponytails, braids or buns might cause traction alopecia over time.

When the hair is pulled back a lot, the strain can deteriorate your hair follicles, causing redness and soreness at first, as well as bumps and scarring, then hair loss. You may notice a lot of baby hairs growing near your scalp, which are usually a result of hair falling out and re-growing. If the hair loss continues, though, the root may become so badly damaged that it does not re-grow hair, causing bald spots and even wide-spread hair loss.

In some cases, traction alopecia might be permanent, but men or women who catch the issue early enough may be able to salvage the root and see hair grow once again.

Keeping your hair healthy

There’s no need to fear the ponytail completely, though. Wearing ponytails can be totally fine, as long as they are worn in moderation and with ample time for your hair and scalp to “rest” in between. This might mean skipping the daily pony and finding a new style, instead.

Here are some ways to avoid seeing signs of traction alopecia or any other damage caused by wearing a ponytail every day.

  • Keep hair healthy: One of the best ways to prevent damage from wreaking havoc on your hair is to keep it healthy and hydrated. When it is well-nourished, hair can be extremely resilient to rubbing and breaking, and so can your scalp. Use hair masks and oils to prevent your hair from becoming dry or brittle, which is when it’s most susceptible to breaking.
  • Let your hair rest: Don’t be afraid to rock that high ponytail for a day but let your hair down before you go to sleep and try to keep it down for a day or two after. Letting your scalp relax and your hair settle into its natural flow will help keep it healthy.
  • Switch up the styles: Wearing ponytails in the same place puts tension on both the same section of the hair shaft as well as the same section of your hair line, which is double trouble for your hair. Switch up the placement of your pony—from high to near the nape of your neck to middle of your crown—so the same spots aren’t being pulled too much.

The ponytail may be a convenient and stylish way to secure your ‘do, but having healthy, undamaged hair is much easier in the long run. Make sure to switch up your styles and keep your hair healthy before you pull your hair back and your ponytail should come at no consequence!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published