Tight Top Knots Cause Traction Alopecia, So Try This Cute Loose Version Instead

Tight top knots do look sleek, but I would rather not literally pull my own hair out to do it.
Publish date:
September 28, 2015
braids, updos, buns, top knots, Alopecia

In case you, like me (and Ariana Grande, I’m guessing), missed the memo: your super-tight ponytail or top knot is making you go bald. Kind of. Well, it can, at least.

This is presumably common knowledge in some circles, but it was a little nugget of information that I managed to miss out on until Marci clued me in. This all came to light because, all of a sudden, people are freaking out that the oh so Tumblr-worthy man bun is making more dudes get traction alopecia.

Basically, traction alopecia is when the hair is pulled enough over time to put stress on the root of the hair, causing the follicle to give up on life and leave you with acute bald spots. This all makes sense, because, ya know, your scalp can hurt after a long day of wearing your hair in a tight style. But— cross my heart—I didn’t know it led to bald spots.

So lets fix that, shall we? One loose top knot—just what the doctor ordered.

Start with dirty hair—it has more grip so it won’t just slip right out of your hairstyle.

So things don’t look as dirty as they feel, dry shampoo is a must. Powdery dry shampoo will give more volume and grip to the hair, but if you are really in need of some titanium power grip and volume, try a volumizing powder like the Got2b Powderful Volumizing Styling Powder. It’s like teasing your hair without the damage.

My hair has enough grime to hold it’s own in an updo, so I’m just dry shampooing with the Bumble and Bumble Pret a Powder.

You only need to use this on the front part of the hair that is the most visible. Then just give your hair a good shimmy to incorporate the powder and brush out any knots as needed.

Let’s talk hair ties for a second. Since we're going for the gentlest top knot of all time here, you will really want to use one of the flat elastic ribbon hair ties as opposed to the clear plastic ones, or the standard black hair bands.

The ribbon style of hair tie doesn’t have any glue or metal to snag on your hair and they tend to be much more stretchy than other options, so it's less damaging on your hair.

Take that elastic ribbon and use it to tie a ponytail right on the tippy top of your head. I do this by flipping my head over and letting gravity help me get all my hair together.

See this ponytail? It’s way too tight.

To make the ponytail way less tight and reduce stress on the follicles as much as possible, just tug on the hair tie to move it up.

If any parts of your hair still seem too tight, or if you can feel it pulling at your roots, just give a little pull to loosen them up. You can also do this to make sure your hair looks evenly loose all over your head.

At this point, it is kind of like a build-your-own-adventure hairstyle! Just choose whatever kind of bun you fancy to finish up. Normally, I’d just go for the messy bun, but today, to top off my top knot, I decided to go for a braided bun. I just did a simple three-strand braid down the length of my pony.

I just wrapped the braid around the hair tie to cover it up and pinned it in place with some bobby pins.

And there you have it! A loose top knot formula to give your scalp a break, and keep breakage at bay. Tight top knots do look sleek, but I would rather not literally pull my own hair out to do it.

  • Did you know about traction alopecia?
  • How often do you wear your hair tightly pulled back?
  • Thoughts on the man bun (or man braid!): yay or nay?