Rocking a Trendy Top Knot or Bun May Make You Go Bald

woman with hair up in a bunIt's just SO easy to throw your hair into a bun when you don't have time to style it. (Man buns exist for a totally different reason. Obsession with Pirates of the Caribbean? We couldn't say.) But sad news for our favorite slapdash hairstyle: Top knots and buns COULD make your hair fall out.


The Internet is abuzz with rumors that anyone who pulls their hair up or back or both is going to wake up tomorrow resembling Yul Brynner. (Who was um, super-bald, FYI.)

The reason? "Traction alopecia," which sounds like the name of a cool band but is actually "hair loss caused by persistent tension on the hair roots," explains Fayne L. Frey, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in West Nyack, New York.

You won't suddenly develop traction alopecia from pulling your hair into a top knot once, reassures Parsa Mohebi, MD, an internationally recognized hair transplant surgeon based in Los Angeles. "However, if you have weaker hair that is prone to that type of damage, you can lose hair," Dr. Mohebi says. "Constant traction on the hair follicles pulls the generative part out ... and it will be gone for good."

And it's not just one particular style that's to blame. "Tight braiding, buns, top-knots, tight scarves, or turbans can also cause hair loss with the same mechanism," says Dr. Mohebi.

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So, what's a girl who likes her hair up -- and, um, wants to keep her hair -- to do? We asked Stephanie Johnson, a licensed hairstylist and regional educator for Briogeo Hair Care in Dallas for some tips to protect YOUR locks.

Don't put your hair up when it's wet. "Hair is most fragile when wet, so that will cause breakage in the strand, most often around where the elastic is holding the hair," notes Johnson.

Take a break from clip extensions. At least if you wear them daily. "That clip is usually put into hair that's been teased, and the weight of extensions pulls on that roughed-up hair," Johnson explains. "The clip itself rubs against the same spot, too. Daily gravity and tension will cause traction alopecia."

Don't treat your sunglasses like a hair accessory. Sure, it's convenient to use them to hold your hair back, but "that daily habit can start creating baldness [at your] temples, where hair tends to be a little more fine," says Johnson.

Baby your fine hair. If you have fine hair, you're more at risk for traction alopecia, says Johnson. That's because "[your] hair cuticle isn't as thick or strong as someone with ... thicker hair. That cuticle is 20 percent of the strength of the hair strand but it accounts for 100 percent of the protection of that other 80 percent."

In fact, baby your hair regardless. "Remember that hair is dead," says Johnson. "It cannot repair itself or regenerate. Once that cuticle is broken and damage is caused, it's time to cut and start over."

And unless you want to bring back the GI Jane, we recommend going easy on your hair now.


Image via Rauluminate/iStock

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