Pulling your hair into a tight elastic can cause breakage on the strands themselves, especially where the elastic is secured. While this is worrisome, losing hair at the root may be more serious, as it can result in more long-term hair loss. This is called traction alopecia.
“Traction alopecia means when patients repeatedly put their hair in a tight [style], and over time this starts pulling out some of the hairs on the sides, literally killing those hairs,” Behnam tells mbg. So while it may look nice to have an ultra-tight and sleek pony, it can literally tug your hair out with time.
Ponytails and buns can certainly lead to traction alopecia, but Behnam warns that tight braids can be even more dangerous; so if you frequently don protective styles (flat twists, cornrows, and box braids), experts recommend switching out your braids every two weeks and be sure to give yourself breaks in between.
Overdoing too-tight hairstyles can not only kill the hair at the root and damage the existing strands, but they can even lead to permanent scarring if left untreated. When this occurs, there’s little hope to regain hair growth in that area at all, even with professional treatment. Translation? If you think you might be dealing with traction alopecia, you’ll want to waste no time addressing the issue.