Workout hairstyles: Tight Ponytails

Is Your Workout Hairstyle
Causing Hair Loss?

January 2022 | 5 Minute Read 

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Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

It’s not uncommon to see strands of hair accumulated in the shower drain following your routine; however, if you’ve noticed more and more strands in the drain as of late, you could be in the early stages of hair loss. Naturally, your immediate course of action is to make changes to your diet, hair routine, take vitamins and try any at-home remedies the internet will tell you; however, implementing these changes is often frustrating and futile if you can’t pinpoint the root cause of the issue. Hair loss is real, and there are numerous factors that could be contributing to it, but this often overlooked habit many of us do before a workout can be the culprit... tight hairstyles. 

What is Traction Alopecia?

Wearing a tight hairstyle, such as a ponytail or bun while working out, can lead to a form of hair loss called traction alopecia. This form of alopecia (hair loss) is caused by repeated stress on the hair follicle from pulling, leading to damage and, in some cases, causes permanent hair loss if not addressed early. 

Early Signs of Traction Alopecia Hair Loss

Workout Hairstyles: Tight Messy Hair Bun

Since this form of alopecia occurs over a period of time, noticing the early signs is crucial to preventing permanent damage. This includes looking for:

  • Broken hairs around the forehead 
  • Receding hairline 
  • Patches of hair loss where the hair is pulled tightly 


Take time each month to evaluate your hair and if you notice any of these early signs, know that your hairstyle is causing damage. If hair is left pulled tightly, it will stop growing in areas with significant pulling, and shiny, bald skin patches may begin to show. If traction alopecia advances to this stage, hair will not grow back.

How to Prevent Traction Alopecia

There are several things you can do to reduce your chances of developing traction alopecia hair loss caused by your workout hairstyles.

Avoid Frequently Wearing Tight Hairstyles

We’ve mentioned that tight ponytails and buns contribute to hair loss when working out. It’s okay to wear a tight hairstyle every once in a while, but doing so when working out, especially if you work out 3-5 times a week, will take a toll on your hair follicle health.

Workout Hairstyles: Loose Braid Solution

Embrace Loose Workout Hairstyles & Change it Up

It can be tricky to think of alternative hairstyles at the gym when you want to keep your hair out of your face. A loose braid is the ideal gym hairstyle to prevent hair pulling while allowing you to accomplish a rigorous workout. A low ponytail will also work, so long as you loosen the hairstyle around your hairline. Changing up your hairstyle will also reduce repeated pulling in one area while allowing your hair follicles a chance to recover. 

Embrace Loose Workout Hairstyles & Change it Up

Workout Hairstyles: Loose Braid Solution

It can be tricky to think of alternative hairstyles at the gym when you want to keep your hair out of your face. A loose braid is the ideal gym hairstyle to prevent hair pulling while allowing you to accomplish a rigorous workout. A low ponytail will also work, so long as you loosen the hairstyle around your hairline. Changing up your hairstyle will also reduce repeated pulling in one area while allowing your hair follicles a chance to recover. 

Wear a Headband When Working Out

Workout Hairstyles: Absorb Sweat with Sweatband

I highly recommend wearing a headband while you work out for two reasons. First, it will help keep your hair out of the way. This, combined with a loose braid or hairstyle, will prevent pulling. Secondly, it will help keep away sweat from the forehead and scalp, which can cause irritation.

Wear a Headband When Working Out

I highly recommend wearing a headband while you work out for two reasons. First, it will help keep your hair out of the way. This, combined with a loose braid or hairstyle, will prevent pulling. Secondly, it will help keep away sweat from the forehead and scalp, which can cause irritation.

Workout Hairstyles: Absorb Sweat with Sweatband

Improve Scalp Health by Using a Dry Shampoo Before Workouts

Scalp health is key to preventing hair loss, and one tip I always give regular gym-goers is to use dry shampoo beforehand. Apply this all-natural overnight dry shampoo before sweating at the gym to soak up the oils. With its fine particle size, you can trust it won’t block your hair follicles, leaving you with fresher-looking hair while also helping your scalp health.  

Hair health starts at the root and taking these steps to ensure your scalp and hair follicles are healthy will help prevent permanent hair loss. Check out my previous blog for some more tips to improve scalp health.  

Each week on my blog The Little Book of Human Discomforts I share clever solutions for seemingly embarrassing skin, body, and hair issues. Consider subscribing below to be the first to know when new content is live! I also share lots of body and skincare tips on Instagram @kaianaturals and on my TikTok page @madamesweat.

All content found on this website is created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. 

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