If you wear your hair in a ponytail every day, then you understand just how essential the style is when dealing with the massive struggle of getting your hair out of your face for whatever reason. Sure, you could just brush it to the side, but, if you are working out, riding in the car with the windows down, or just trying to wash your face at the end of the day, it’s a lot easier to tie it up into a ponytail. That way, it’s secure and not in the way.
Ponytails can be cute, too. Just look at Ariana Grande and her signature pony. You can add accessories and braids to accentuate your ponytail and it’s a good style hack when you haven’t washed your hair in a couple of days. But no matter why you wear your hair in a ponytail, it’s important to know just what it can do to your locks and your body. Believe it or not, but that innocent ponytail you’ve been rocking every day can actually be doing more harm than good, so you might want to try a new style. Here’s what really happens when you wear your hair in a ponytail every day.
You might develop migraines if you wear your hair in a ponytail every day
You really can’t beat the ease and accessibility of a ponytail. You don’t have to be a skilled hairdresser to put your hair up into a cute pony, and you don’t need a lot of tools to do so, either. But as versatile as the ponytail is, it’s also kind of dangerous. One of the most common "side effects" of wearing a ponytail every day is that it oftentimes leads to headaches. As Metro reported, when you tie your hair up into a ponytail, it typically pulls on the nerves around your head, resulting in quite a bit of pain.
In fact, it turns out that if you wear your hair in a ponytail every day, it could not only give you headaches but could also give you migraines. Headache neurologist Dr. Wade Cooper told Fox 26 Houston that if someone has "achiness after the hairstyle is released," then that might mean they could develop migraines or another painful issue. "That’s going to signal to us that their nerves are triggering underlying brain sensitivity that we see more commonly in people with migraines or other pain syndromes," Cooper explained. So, if you wear a ponytail every day and still experience headaches or pain after you take it out, you may want to speak with you doctor.
Not sure what the pain you’re feeling is? Here’s the difference between a headache and a migraine.
When you wear your hair in a ponytail every day, you could experience back pain
Though most people put their hair up in a ponytail in order to keep it out of their face or to go another day without having to shampoo it, it might not be worth it. A few stray strands of hair flying across your face are nothing compared to the back pain you might experience if you wear your hair in a ponytail every day.
Metro reported, "The scalp is subject to more stress if you have thick hair, so, pain extends to your back and neck if you are forcing it all to stay up, contained by one little hairband." All that pain in your back can be explained by your nerves, according to neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center Dr. Denise E. Chou. Chou told Elle that when you pull your hair back into a tight ponytail, you "activate the sensory nerves even more," leading to back and neck pain. This doesn’t mean you can never wear your hair up, but, as Chou advised, you should try a looser style.
Your scalp could hurt if you wear your hair in a ponytail every day
As obvious as it may sound, scalp pain is still a somewhat surprising side effect of wearing your hair in a ponytail every day. You might not think much about your scalp hurting, as it can sometimes feel like it’s your hair that’s hurting, but dermatologist Francesca Fusco set the record straight.
"It’s not actually your hair that hurts, but the skin and perifollicular area of the scalp — the region around each hair, pore, or follicle," Fusco told Vogue. Fusco explained that if you aren’t taking care of your scalp and are throwing your hair up in a tight ponytail or bun every day, then you’ll likely experience pain.
Celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh told the magazine, "It’s like not working out for a week! If you don’t wash your hair and keep it in the same style, it feels sore because it’s lacking hair and scalp stimulation."
Your skin might stretch when you wear your hair in a ponytail every day
The idea of putting your hair up into a ponytail every day can seem ideal for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time on their hairstyle. And typically, when you pull your hair back, you probably aren’t thinking too much about the impact it can have on your skin. However, if you style your hair in a ponytail daily, then the skin on your face might stretch out and possibly stay stretched out for the long haul. Clearly that’s not a good thing.
Dr. F. Victor Rueckl, a dermatologist, answered a question on Real Self about the dangers of pulling your hair back too tight, explaining that skin stretching from a ponytail is plausible. "Though it would be minimal, it is possible to stretch your skin back very tightly from a ponytail," he said. However, Rueckl added that, if you are young, "this should not have an overwhelming effect though as you have young skin with a good amount of collagen."
Still, it would seem that the more you put your hair into a tight ponytail, the greater your chance of stretching the skin around your face and your skin losing its elasticity. This can, of course, make you look older, which is pretty much the opposite of most people’s skincare goals.
If you wear your hair in a ponytail every day, you could have fewer breakouts
There are a lot of negative effects that ponytails could have on your hair and body, but there are a few positive effects that come with wearing your hair pulled back. For instance, you’ll probably get fewer breakouts. That’s right — if you suffer from constant breakouts and acne, then tying your hair back from your face might be the solution. Yes, hair is one of the surprising things that cause acne.
This is because when your hair gets in your face, it can lead to breakouts. "Hair acts like a magnet for dirt and pollution," New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman, told Well + Good. Engelman added that if you wear your hair down, especially while you sleep, "your hair can rub on your face and bedding making you more susceptible to breakouts." Additionally, board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Ava Shamban, author of Heal Your Skin, told Prevention that having hair in your face can especially case forehead acne.
Wearing your hair in a ponytail every day might not completely eradicate your acne, but it can help in reducing it.
You might develop alopecia if you wear your hair in a ponytail every day
Tying your hair back into a ponytail every day, especially if you pull your hair back tightly, can potentially lead to a specific kind of hair loss. And while it might only be temporary, this kind of alopecia isn’t fun and can lead to more consequences. Dr. Francesca J. Fusco, a dermatologist, told Allure, "If someone wore their hair tightly pulled back every night for years, traction alopecia could occur along the hairline." It sounds intense, right? Well, if you don’t correct it, it certainly can be.
However, as Healthline reported, traction alopecia can be stopped; you just have to change up how you do your hair. The website noted, "If you stop wearing your hair in the tight hairstyle that caused it, your hair will grow back normally." So, just stop yanking your hair back so tightly! Otherwise you could experience permanent hair loss along your hairline, where your hair is the most fragile.
You might experience neck tension when you wear your hair in a ponytail every day
When you sit in an office chair all day, looking at a computer screen, chances are you already deal with your fair share of neck pain and tension. But there could be something else causing that uncomfortable feeling in your neck. In addition to back pain, headaches, migraines, and even scalp pain, wearing your hair back in a tight ponytail every day can also lead to tension in your neck, as noted by Metro. Much like the infamous ponytail headache, a tight or tender neck can also occur if you wear your hair back in a ponytail too often.
According to Dr. David Dodick, who is a neurologist at Mayo Clinic, when you pull your hair back tightly, the trigeminal nerve becomes activated. When that happens, it’s similar to what happens during a migraine, and you feel pain in your neck muscles, Dodick explained to Refinery29. So, if you’ve been styling your hair into a super high and tight ponytail every day for a while, don’t be surprised to feel tension and pain in your neck. It’s common, and taking your hair down is a way to relieve the pain, Dodick explained.
Will you be able to focus more if you wear your hair in a ponytail every day?
If you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of an intense work project or seemingly unable to focus well enough to do your taxes or make your weekly grocery list, then you may have thrown your hair up in a ponytail while trying to concentrate. It’s not a new phenomenon, but it is slightly mysterious. Why does getting your hair out of your face help you focus?
Illustrator Loryn Brantz acknowledged the power of a ponytail in a 2017 Facebook post that went viral. Next to a cartoon of a woman tying her hair up to focus Brantz wrote, "Why is this a thing?" as reported by TreeHugger. And over 3,000 people commented, many agreeing with her that wearing a ponytail somehow helps them concentrate. While it has not been scientifically proven that wearing your hair in a ponytail can help you focus, Brantz suggested, "I think it just feels distracting on some level to have hair touching your neck. Also for me it makes me feel warm, and I have trouble focusing when I overheat — much like a computer."
So, if you start wearing your hair up in a ponytail every day, don’t be too surprised if you become a more focused worker.
Your hair will get tangled when you wear your hair in a ponytail every day
While many people view the ponytail as a means to an end in terms of keeping it neat, the opposite might just be true. If you wear your hair up in a ponytail every single day, your hair will probably get more tangled than if you left it down, especially if you leave it up in the same ponytail multiple days in a row. A ponytail might be easier to deal with in the short term, but detangling your hair can take forever and can be seriously painful.
According to Bosley Professional Strength Specialist JB Shelton, constantly wearing your hair in a ponytail can cause a lot of tangles, as Shelton told StyleCaster. Tangles, something no one wants, occur when the hair experiences a lot of friction and tension. Additionally, Shelton noted that the worst thing you can do when you wear a ponytail every day is sleep in it, as this can cause even more tangles. The best way to avoid those pesky knots if you want to continue to wear a ponytail every day is to brush your hair regularly and use conditioners and deep conditioners.
Your hairstyle will be dented if you wear a ponytail every day
One of the worst things that tends to happen when you wear your hair in a ponytail every day is that you get a crease or dent in your hair where you put your hair tie in. It’s annoying, and it can seriously cramp your style once you take your hair down. Getting dents in your hair after you rock a ponytail is such an issue that one Allure reader even wrote the magazine asking for advice on how to avoid it in the future.
As Allure responded, the dents in your hair are caused by the ponytail holder you use, but certain things can make the dents worse. "Make sure hair isn’t damp when pulling it back (otherwise, creases will set as it dries). Then find a ponytail holder without a metal seam, or try a ribbon or soft leather cord," Allure explained. The more you wear your hair in a ponytail, the more you’ll have creases in your hair, which really doesn’t look great on anyone.
You might experience breakage if you wear your hair in a ponytail every day
Whether or not you are actively trying to grow your hair out, no one wants breakage. And while it’s pretty clear that wearing your hair in a ponytail can cause serious damage to your locks and your scalp, the actual extent of that damage is pretty far-reaching. Specifically, if you put your hair up every day, your strands might break, causing split ends and even more damage to your gorgeous locks.
StyleCaster explained, "If you’re pulling your hair back into a tight bun or ponytail daily, the tension can cause strands to break where they’re being held by your elastic or pull out at the root." Your hair is pretty fragile when you think about it, and tying it up every day isn’t helping it get any stronger. Insider reported that you can make things worse by sleeping in a ponytail, "as it can cause serious damage and breakage." Ponytails aren’t the worst thing for your hair (um, hot tools!), but they also aren’t the best, and the breakage they cause can only be stopped if you wear your hair down more often than up.
You could look younger when you wear your hair in a ponytail every day
It might seem like ponytails are nothing but trouble for your hair, but they might offer one pro that could change your mind. If you pull your hair back into a tight ponytail every day, you are essentially giving yourself a facelift of sorts, which can help you look younger. The tighter the ponytail, the younger you look, which might just make all the other negative side effects of wearing your hair in a ponytail every day worth it. Well, sort of.
The potential to look younger by wearing a ponytail is so well-known that even celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh told Harper’s Bazaar he was a believer in it. "It can absolutely lift your face," he said of a tight ponytail. Plastic surgeon Philip Miller told Harper’s Bazaar, "When a woman puts her hair into a high ponytail, she creates a centralized pull on the skin from the forehead to the cheekbones." He added, "It’s the exact pull you would want to treat the sagging skin that begins to appear in your early 30s."
If you can’t afford an actual facelift, then you might as well invest in some high-quality ponytail holders, as pulling your hair back high and tight might be the best way to smooth those wrinkles.