Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed?
If you were a dancer or cheerleader as a child, then you probably have experience with tight hairstyles that caused headaches and a sore scalp! As kids, these high-tension hairstyles just caused a little discomfort. But over time, repeatedly putting our hair into tight ballerina buns and high ponytails can do more than that—these styles can cause damage to our hair known as traction alopecia. Thinning hair and hair loss near the hairline and crown are classic signs of traction alopecia, which can especially wreak havoc on aging hair.
But there's positive news: You can prevent and even reverse traction alopecia. Read on to learn more about hairstyles that can cause hair loss, along with protective hairstyles for traction alopecia and how you can help reverse traction alopecia!
What Is Traction Alopecia?
There's a hint right in the name! Traction alopecia is hair loss often at the hairline or crown due to too much friction (or traction) on the hair. When our hair is constantly rubbed or pulled back into tight hairstyles that cause hair loss, both the hair strands and the hair follicles can get damaged. This damage often results in thinning hair, breakage and hair loss.
Symptoms of traction alopecia include:
- Thinning hair, especially at the hairline and crown
- Hair loss
- Bumps on the scalp
- Scalp soreness
Can I Reverse Traction Alopecia?
The good news is that it's almost always possible to reverse traction alopecia if you address the cause of the hair thinning and hair loss quickly before permanent damage to your hair follicles occurs.
So how can you reverse traction alopecia? Hair loss due to traction alopecia tends to occur only where hair has been repeatedly pulled tight or rubbed, so the most important step for reversing traction alopecia is to examine your hairstyles and make adjustments accordingly. If you’re dealing with traction alopecia, you probably wear a lot of high-tension styles such as high ponytails, tight buns, weaves and extensions. (If you don't wear tight hairstyles and you’re still experiencing hair thinning, it’s likely there are other factors, such as stress or a hormonal imbalance, influencing your hair loss.)
Once you’ve identified the hairstyles that are the source of pulling and friction on your hair, it’s time to choose new gentler hairstyles for traction alopecia—and we’ll help with that below!
Pro tip: Other ways to help reverse traction alopecia include supporting your hair and scalp with nourishing, hair-friendly supplements, exploring a plant-based diet that’s high in protein, incorporating daily scalp massages into your routine, avoiding harsh chemicals and hair treatments and caring for your hair gently with products designed to help strengthen and hydrate your tresses.
Gentle Hairstyles for Traction Alopecia
1. Hairstyle for Traction Alopecia: Low, Loose Knot Bun
If you want to keep your hair pulled back and reverse traction alopecia at the same time, low and loose is the name of the game! Skip the ballerina buns, tight braids and high ponytail hairstyles that can cause hair loss and stress at the hairline and opt instead for a low, loose knot bun. This requires only a few bobby pins and some volumizing spray, like our Lift Me Up Hair Thickener. This style is super simple to create and boosts volume, while also helping reverse traction alopecia.
Get the look: Apply Lift Me Up to your roots for allover volume then brush your hair back from your hairline to evenly distribute the product and smooth strands. Next, divide your hair in half at the nape of your neck and loosely tie your hair like you're tying a knot. (Make sure it's a loose knot!) Then, tie one more knot, secure any wild pieces with bobby pins, and spray with a volumizing hairspray like our new Wake Up Call High Hold Thickening Hairspray. Voilà! A gorgeous, gentle hairstyle that won't cause hair loss!
2. Hairstyle for Traction Alopecia: Less Damaging Clip-In Extensions
It can be hard to pass up the full, voluminous tresses that extensions give us, especially if you have naturally thin or fine hair! But the truth is that long-wear, semi-permanent hair extensions offer a hairstyle that can cause hair loss. The good news is that you don't have to forgo extensions totally—just switching to gentler, non-permanent extensions or giving your scalp a break between extension appointments can help prevent or even reverse traction alopecia!
Get the look: The safest extension options are clip-in or headband-style extensions because these don't require glue, tape or sewing. (They’re also the least expensive option for extensions, so your bank account and your scalp will thank you!) Removable extensions have come a long way in recent years, and many look indistinguishable from traditional extensions. But if you prefer semi-permanent extensions, try asking your stylist to attach them in different locations each time to give your hair follicles a break between visits.
Pro tip: Be extra gentle with your hair follicles! If they're already dealing with extra tension from extensions, minimize the stress you put on your roots by gently washing and styling your hair. Detangle with a wide-toothed comb and always work from your ends back to the roots. And try to space out washes to keep the adhesive on your extensions intact.
3. Hairstyle for Traction Alopecia: Wearing a Silk Bonnet to Bed
Wearing your hair loose and unprotected can be a bedtime hairstyle that causes hair loss, especially if you’re one to toss and turn. Instead, opting for a silk or satin bonnet at bedtime is an excellent way to provide a physical barrier of protection for your hair while you sleep. Be sure that the bonnet fits your head well—it's not protecting your hair from friction if it falls off in the middle of the night!
Get the look: Some bonnets come already sewn into the shape of a cap, while others arrive flat, allowing you more flexibility in shaping and sizing your bonnet. Shop around and find a silk bonnet with great reviews and that fits your head and amount of hair. And if you move a lot in your sleep, try using both a silk bonnet and a silk pillowcase to protect your hair while sleeping should your bonnet fall off!
Pro tip: To give your scalp extra support at bedtime as it heals and reverses traction alopecia, try adding a nightly scalp serum designed for sensitive scalps and to refuel hair that’s experiencing significant shedding and noticeable thinning, like our Superpower+ Advanced Hair Densifying Scalp Serum. This supercharged serum is packed with our gentle yet extra-potent Superpower™ blend and plant-derived actives like rosemary extract and apple cider vinegar for soothing scalp relief and thicker-, denser- and stronger-looking hair in no time.
Like what you read and want more hair-care content delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters for the latest hair intel and exclusive promotions for your mature hair needs!
Better Not Younger has all your thinning hair concerns covered, including hair loss and thinning hair from traction alopecia. Whether you're trying to support your scalp and reverse traction alopecia or simply fight naturally thinning hair as you age, we have the hair-care products you need to achieve thicker- and healthier-looking hair at any age. Let us help you find the perfect hair-care solution to support your hair and scalp! Reach out to us on Facebook and Instagram, or keep reading our blog for more hair-care info!