From headaches to split ends, just how damaging is a high ponytail for your hair?

How bad for your hair is a high ponytail? [Photo: Getty]

Every artist has their trademark aesthetic and for Ariana Grande, it’s her eye-wateringly high ponytail.

After releasing a surprise single earlier this week, the 25-year-old is social media cat-nip right now but we’re not talking about her break-up – yep, we’re still obsessing about that pony.

Yesterday, fellow singer Camila Cabello took to Twitter to joke that she had recently trialled Grande’s signature look only to find it extremely painful.

She told fans [sic]: “I just did a high ponytail for the first time and it is literally pulling on my BRAIN IT’S SO PAINFUL HOW DO YOU DO IT Ariana Grande”.

To which the singer replied: “I’m in constant pain always and don’t care at all.”

But it got us thinking, just how damaging can a ponytail really be for our hair? Look no further for the lowdown.

What are the side effects of wearing a ponytail?

We’re all guilty of resorting to a makeshift ponytail or messy bun when washing our hair just seems like too much effort before work. But what are the potential side effects of the “I-woke-up-like-this” style?

Hair loss

Forcing your hair into an Ariana-worthy hairstyle may prove gram-worthy but fastening it up regularly may result in hair loss.

Hairstylist and founder of SILKE London, Maria Sotiriou, told Yahoo UK: “When the hair is repeatedly pulled with force into a style – such as a sky-high pony – the tight tension applied to your strands can cause them to break or even pull out at the root, leaving you with finer hair and small bald patches.”

Dr Munir Somji of Medispa clinic agrees, adding: “A tight ponytail can cause tractional alopecia where there is loss of hair in the temple and crown area due to constant traction.”


Nothing feels greater than letting your hair down (quite literally) when you get home from a night out. But can a tight ponytail really bring on headaches?

Assistant professor at the Columbia University Medical Centre, Dr. Denise E.Chou, revealed to Elle magazine: “When you put your hair in a tight bun or ponytail – or a weave or extensions – that will pull the nerves in the scalp.”

“That pulling of the nerves will activate the sensory nerves even more. That can result in the headache itself, or it could be that the headache is beginning.”

How can you prevent ponytail damage?

You needn’t give up your go-to ponytail to protect your locks, as there a plenty of ways to damage-proof your hair.

From letting your hair down at night to investing in silk hair ties, look no further for expert advice.

Loosen your ponytail if you’re not willing to give it up

If you’re not prepared to give up your go-to pony then make sure to watch how tightly your fasten it up.

“Traction alopecia is caused by the hair being tightly held in one place regularly, Maria Sotiriou told Yahoo UK. “There are steps you can take to minimise the damage a daily up-do can do to your hair, such as making sure your pony isn’t tied too tightly.”

“A guide for this would be, when you pinch your hair tie and try to move it around ask yourself if there is some give in the hair between your tie and scalp. If there’s no budge, your pony is too tight.”

Invest in new hair bobbles

If you can’t sleep without tying your hair up then make sure to head over to the SILKE London website for some essentials.

The brand’s 100% mulberry silk hair bobbles are designed to prevent snagging, kinks, split ends and tugging. There are three colour ways available at £26 each.

SILKE London hair ties are made from 100% mulberry silk to prevent hair breakage and frizz caused by ponytails [Photo: SILKE London]

The company is also famed for its silk hair wraps which are designed to prevent split ends and nightly frizz.

“Traditional hair elastics are infamous for pulling out hair,” Sotiriou explains. “Typically made of a tight weave of synthetic polyester, hair becomes trapped in the weave as you tie and tighten the elastic round your ponytail and the abrasive material tugs, snaps and splits hair mid-shaft.”

Is it ok to sleep in a ponytail?

According to Sotiriou, sleeping in a ponytail is actually better for your hair than letting it spread over abrasive bed linen – as cotton is damaging for your hair cuticles. But sleeping in a traditional hair bobble may cause mid-length breakage which in turn, will lead to uneven layers and thinner locks.

So if you’re reading this Ariana, make sure to swap to a silk hair tie by bedtime.

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