We all know that feeling, after a long day, when you take your hair out of a ponytail: OUCH! Why should it be that a simple ponytail or braid or bun, lifesaving updos for dirty hair days and lazy mornings, cause pain? According to medical professionals, the answer lies with our nerves.
Reporting in The Huffington Post, clinical dermatologists explain that it's not our actual hair that hurts, but rather the follicles they're attached to. Hair itself, though shiny and beautiful, is technically dead—just a cluster of proteins called keratin. So, hair doesn't have feelings. But the follicle, where hair originates, is chock full of nerve endings. When you pull your hair into an updo, it puts pressure on those nerve endings, causing discomfort or even pain over time. Moreover, those nerve endings adjust to being pulled in a certain direction, so when you switch it by taking your hair out of its ponytail, they get stimulated all over again, causing the pain you feel when you take out your ponytail.
For those that live by the motto "beauty is pain," this may not seem like a big deal. (Sore head? Whatever. High heels still suck worse). But beyond mere discomfort, wearing your hair in tight updos can also cause detrimental damage to your hair and scalp. For example, traction alopecia, which is just as scary as its name would suggest, is a condition in which too much tension on hair results in actual hair loss. Wearing your hair too tightly over time can also cause thinning of hair, or even a receding hairline. (Eeek!)
The simple way to avoid all this is to just pull your hair up less frequently. But, of course, that's easier said than done. For some people, like dancers and athletes (not to mention Ariana Grande), abandoning updos is, unfortunately, not an option. Plus, super-tight, high ponytails are having a big moment in style right now; you can't really be expected to just forego that, right?
Of course not! The key here, as in all things, is moderation: Just don't do a super-tight look every day. Even alternating the type of updo can help. For example, switching from braids to a high bun to a low ponytail during the week can be helpful in reducing agitation on your hair follicles.