This Is Why Your "Hair Hurts" When You Wear It Up All Day

why does my hair hurt after wearing it up all day
The Scientific Explanation Behind Ponytail PainDesign by Yoora Kim - Getty Images

There are so many adorable reasons to love putting your hair up in styles like ponytails and buns. Dressed up, ponytails serve a sleek, sophisticated look that screams clean girl aesthetic. A messy bun, on the other hand, can deliver the laid-back vibe rocked by influencers you've seen come across your FYP. While we stan Sydney Sweeney's balletcore bun and all of Arianna Grande's trademark ponytails, there are some times when having your hair up leads to tingling sensations, pulsating stings, and painful hair aches.

While most pain from hair aches can be felt throughout the scalp, it actually begins internally with the nervous system. "The nerve receptors in our hair endings are an integral part of our nervous system," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lian Mack tells Seventeen. "When you wear your hair in a tight-fitting ponytail, the nerve endings become accustomed to being in that direction, and pressure is placed on the follicle," she adds. "When you remove the ponytail, the nerve endings are suddenly stimulated, resulting very commonly in the feeling of sensitivity or pain."

Along with causing headaches and pain, the physical stress of wearing tight up-do hairstyles every day can cause damage to your hair in the form of traction alopecia. "Tight-fitting ponytails create an inflammatory environment surrounding the hair follicles, which can subsequently lead to scarring of the follicles and loss of hair that may be irreversible," Dr. Mack explains.

Hairstylist to the stars and Veluer Creative founder Michael Dueñas agrees. "Hair loss and a receding hairline" are two prominent issues that stem from consistently wearing hair too tight or in a ponytail.

Switching up your styles can help avoid the tension, pain, and potential breakage from wearing your hair up too often. "Consider a lower, looser ponytail," Dr. Mack suggests. "If you love a high pony, reach for a looser hair tie or band so that the hair gathered into the ponytail is not too tight."

Known for ensuring that Machine Gun Kelly and Hilary Duff stay red carpet-ready, Deuñas recommends combining two ponytails into one to prevent stressing the hair follicles. "Take a ponytail leaving your entire hairline out, about one inch, and bring the internal section to where you want; not pulling too tight, but make sure you brush it smooth," he advises. "Then take the outer hairline and bring it over to your internal section and combine it with an elastic. This way, you don't have to make it tight, and you still get a very slick look."

If tension pain and hair aches get too severe, Deuńas recommends taking pain relief medication to treat lingering hair aches. If the pain persists or is severe, Dr. Mack suggests seeing a board-certified dermatologist for prescription strength products to reduce pain and sensitivity of the scalp.

Taking care of your scalp is also important, especially if you wear your hair up a lot. Dr. Mack also recommends exfoliating the scalp with a mild scrub to reduce oil and restore balance on the scalp. "Having a healthier scalp reduces the risk of hair loss" and "provides relief."

Too much of anything can be bad for you, but there's no need to kick styles like ponytails and buns to the curb for good. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how incorporating these up-do hacks help improve tension and hair aches from wearing your hair up.

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