The Ugly Truth About Ponytails Every Woman Needs to Know

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The days of ponytails as a classic gym-only style are long gone. Now, ultra-tight, slick ponys have become a staple on the red carpet, making them an easy go-to style for the rest of us when looking to create a chic-yet-simple look day-to-day. Even better: The tight ponytail is well known for it’s Croydon facelift effect, stretching the skin back for an instant cheekbone-enhancing look that women have been swearing by for decades now.

Unfortunately, while this tight ponytail trend might seem like the easiest lazy girl hack for a more sophisticated appearance, that throbbing ache coming from our tightly wound scalps tell a different tale—ponytails can actually be bad for you.

Yes, there’s a reason your scalp feels this way. Pulling the hair taught can cause some serious damage. “Over the course of time, persistent traction on your hair follicles can loosen and prematurely pull the hair shaft out from the scalp,” explains New York hair restoration specialist Carlos K. Wesley, M.D. “For prolonged periods of time, the persistent mild inflammation around the follicle and continuous tension on the follicle can lead to gradual hair loss and scarring in the area where the hair had originally grown.”

Translation: Your ponytail habit might just be giving you bald spots. This kind of hair loss, called traction alopecia, is one of the main reasons women have receding hairlines, especially at their temples. 

While Dr. Wesley asserts that this kind of hair loss can be permanent if not treated early on, it’s certainly not a death sentence for the affected follicles. If the beginning stages of traction alopecia are detected, stopping the constant, persistent pulling is the first step to recovering,” Dr. Wesley explains. So, begin your treatment by releasing the tight hair bands and opt for looser styles instead.

To speed up the regrowth process, we recommend talking to your doctor about possible antibiotics or topical corticosteroid treatments to relieve the symptoms. You can also try supplements like Viviscal to help nourish thinning hair and promote existing hair growth, or a hair regrowth treatment like Harklinikken that uses topical solutions to help promote follicle health. Whichever option you decide upon, keep in mind that it'll take a few months before seeing results.

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