The Best Hairstyles for Traction Alopecia

by Viviscal Hair Expert on December 10th, 2021

This post was originally published on August 17, 2017. 

Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by stress, but not the emotional kind of stress. Traction alopecia is caused by the physical stress put on the scalp from excessive tugging and pulling on the hair. The number one culprit of traction alopecia? Hairstyles that pull tightly on the scalp like sleek ponytails, tight braids, and hair extensions. 

Luckily, hair loss from traction alopecia is often reversible. The best treatment for traction alopecia is to give your follicles and scalp a break from these damaging hairstyles. Instead, try these hairstyles for traction alopecia. These hairstyles don’t pull on your hairline or scalp, which means they can help to reverse traction alopecia. 

5 Hairstyles to Prevent Traction Alopecia

hairstyles for traction alopecia

1. Messy Top Knot

The traditional topknot is sleek and may pull tightly on the hairline – exactly what you want to avoid when you’re looking for hairstyles to prevent traction alopecia. The messy top knot is a looser alternative. 

To get this precisely messy look, start by misting a texturizing spray throughout your hair. Use a comb to slightly muss up the front and tease the sides. But avoid excessive teasing to keep breakage to a minimum. Hair elastics can cause breakage, so tie up your hair with a few pins or a loose ribbon. Pull out a few face-framing tendrils to finish the look.

hairstyles that don't pull your hairline

2. Bangs

Of course, wearing your hair down is one of the best hairstyles for traction alopecia sufferers. This style gives your roots a chance to recover from any pulling and tugging. One of the best ways to disguise a thinning hairline while wearing your hair down is by cutting bangs. Bangs frame the face and create the appearance of thicker hair by pulling the hair forward. 

Hint: bangs of all kinds tend to get oily quickly (which can make your hair look even thinner). Keep your bangs grease-free by spritzing them with dry shampoo in between hair washes. 

hairstyles to prevent hair loss

3. Box Braids

If you usually braid your hair, opt for thicker box braids. In general, wearing your hair in larger braids or locs is better for preventing traction alopecia than wearing your hair in thin braids. Why? Because larger braids are attached to bigger sections of hair, which gives your hair more support. Thin braids on the other hand are attached to fewer strands, which causes more stress on your hair follicle. 

And if you’re in pain while your hair is being braided, speak up! Pain during braiding is a sign that your braids are too tight, which can cause traction alopecia. Other signs of traction alopecia are small bumps around the hairline.

best hairstyles to prevent hair loss

4. Natural Hair

For women with curly or coily hair who usually wear braids or a weave, traction alopecia can hit especially hard. These “protective” hairstyles often require a lot of product, tight pulling, and manipulation (think twist-outs and braids) to get them just right. Wearing your hair natural is the best way to give your follicles a break.

You might need a bit of product to get this look completely right, but the small amount of hair product is much better than the constant pulling of braids or weaves. Not only will this style help reverse your hair loss, but you can also avoid the pain and headaches from tight braids.

Try a short hairstyle like the one pictured above. Or if your hair is a bit longer, you can go for a tapered cut. You’ll see your problem areas improve in no time.

hairstyles to prevent traction alopecia

5. Loose Braid

The braid is one of our favorite low-manipulation hairstyles for women with medium to long hair. It pulls your hair back loosely, but it puts much less stress on your roots than tightly pulled, intricate braids. You can use a hair elastic to secure your braid, but make sure to skip any with metal! 

The good news? Most cases of traction alopecia can be reversed if the condition is caught early.

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