Is it Bad to Wear Ponytails Regularly?
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on January 28, 2019 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Hair Care
A ponytail is a staple hairstyle for almost every woman. Easy, chic and stylish, a ponytail can be dressed up for a night out or dressed down while running errands or at the gym. The hairstyle has a very long history, going so far back as the Greek and Roman eras for both men and women.
But although a ponytail is a convenient and cute way to tie up your hair, some experts have warned that ponytails are potentially harmful for your hair. But is this really true? And how can you prevent damage while wearing similar styles moving forward?
Can ponytails really damage your hair?
While you might be thinking, “There’s just no way such a simple style can hurt my hair!” there is some truth to this statement. No, wearing a ponytail for a day isn’t going to make your hair fall out in clumps, but wearing a ponytail too often or too tightly can lead to some problems.
The main thing to remember about ponytails is that they put pressure on the follicles and strands in the same places over and over. So, if you’re wearing a ponytail all day, every day, your hair might start to suffer.
The dangers of ponytails
There are a few different ways that ponytails can cause damage to your ‘do.
- Hair breakage: Putting your hair in a ponytail in the same place every day can stress your strands where the elastic meets the hair, especially if you wear your ponytails very tight. Constant friction on the strands can lead to fraying and breakage, potentially causing frizz and fly-aways.
- Hair loss: Another major danger of tight ponytails is traction alopecia, or hair loss due to consistent pulling of the hair. Tight ponytails can stress the hair follicles around your hair line and eventually pull out the hairs. Traction alopecia is usually temporary, but if it continues over time, inflammation might cause long-term problems with the follicles and prevent future hair growth.
- Denting: A more minor yet frustrating side effect of ponytails is the denting of hair. Wearing ponytails in the same location day in and day out can leave a nasty dent in your ‘do that isn’t easily rectified without hot tools and chemicals. This can lead to you wearing more ponytails to camouflage the appearance of the dent, too.
How to prevent ponytail damage
Despite the dangers ponytails present to our hair, there are numerous ways to rock a stylish ponytail and keep your hair healthy.
- Let your hair rest: The best way to help your hair avoid damage from ponytails is to give it a break every few days. Let your locks hang loose and avoid tying it up for any reason so your follicles can relax and you’re not putting constant pressure on the strands.
- Never sleep in a ponytail: Sleeping with a ponytail in can cause even more harm than during the day. This is because your hair gets pulled while you toss and turn in your sleep, putting extra stress on the follicles. Additionally, you should utilize the night time to let your hair relax and breathe after being styled all day.
- Use different hair ties: Sometimes, the type of hair ties you use for ponytails can do additional damage on your hair. Avoid any hair tie with a metal clasp, since hair can easily get snagged and pulled out. Try using hair ties that are much less harsh on your hair, such as scrunchies or thick, fabric-coated types.
- Nourish hair: To help hair fight breakage, it’s important to keep it strong and healthy. Use nourishing shampoos and conditioners to keep hair clean and strong. Additionally, healthy hair starts from within, so eat a well-balanced diet and take hair-healthy supplements to give it the nutrients it needs to repair itself over time.
- Switch up the style: Wearing a ponytail every day is a much bigger problem if you place the pony at the same spot on your head every time. To combat stress on the strands, switch up the placement of your ponytail—perhaps wear a high ponytail one day, then tie it back loosely at the nape of your neck the next.
Ponytails are an efficient and adorable way to style your hair, but don’t forget that most things are better in moderation. Switch up your hairstyle every few days and make sure to keep your hair hydrated and strong to prevent long-term damage.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan