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9 Hair Accessories That Secretly Sabotage Your Locks

While we’d all love to have those gorgeous, Instagram-worthy tresses, the truth is that the hair accessories we use daily could be slowly sabotaging our locks. From breakage and split ends to excessive shedding and traction alopecia, the wrong hair tools and products can wreak havoc on our strands. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll reveal the nine accessories that can damage your hair and provide better alternatives to keep your mane looking its best.

1. Tight Hair Ties and Elastics

Those trusty hair ties and elastics may seem harmless, but they can be silent hair villains. When tied too tightly, they create excessive tension on your strands, leading to breakage and even traction alopecia (gradual hair loss due to constant pulling).

Alternatives: Ditch those tight elastics and switch to soft, fabric-covered hair ties or scrunchies. Not only do they look chic, but they also put way less strain on your locks.

2. Harsh Brushes and Combs

That old, beaten-up brush with plastic bristles may be doing more harm than good. Harsh brushes and combs can snag and rip through your strands, causing split ends, breakage, and even bald spots (ouch!).

Alternative: Invest in a brush with smooth, ball-tipped bristles, boar bristles, or a wide-tooth comb. These gentler tools will glide through your locks without snagging or ripping them apart. Trust me, your hair will thank you for making the switch.

3. Non-Slip Clips and Clamps

Those trusty non-slip clips and clamps may keep your hair in place, but they’re also putting a lot of tension on your roots. Over time, this constant pulling can lead to traction alopecia and even bald spots.

Alternative: Opt for soft, flexible clips or claws that won’t grip your hair too tightly. You can still keep your style in place without sacrificing your precious locks. Plus, they come in so many cute colors and designs these days!

4. Metal Barrettes and Hairpins

Those shiny metal barrettes and hairpins may look chic, but they can secretly sabotage your strands. The sharp edges of these accessories can snag and split your hair, causing breakage and frayed ends.

Alternative: Switch to plastic or fabric-covered barrettes and pins. They’ll still hold your style in place without snagging or cutting through your hair. And let’s be real, they come in just as many cute designs as their metal counterparts.

5. Rubber Bands

Rubber bands may be fun for making bracelets, but they’re not so great for our hair. Rubber bands create excessive friction on our strands, causing them to snap and break.

Alternative: Avoid rubber bands altogether and stick to soft, fabric-covered hair ties or scrunchies. Your hair will thank you for ditching those harsh rubber materials.

6. Headbands with Metal or Plastic Accents

Those cute headbands with metal or plastic accents may complete your outfit, but they could be sabotaging your hair. The hard accents can create tension on your roots, causing traction alopecia, and even bald spots. They can also snag and break your strands as you go about your day.

Alternative: Opt for soft, stretchy headbands without any hard accents. They’ll still keep your hair in place without pulling or snagging. Plus, there are so many cute and trendy options available these days!

7. Harsh Hair Towels

Those plush, cozy towels you use to dry your hair after a shower may seem harmless, but they could be causing more harm than good. Traditional terry cloth towels can be incredibly rough and abrasive on wet hair, leading to frizz, breakage, and split ends.

The friction and tugging motion you use to dry your hair with a regular towel can also lead to excessive shedding and traction on the roots. Over time, this constant pulling and roughness can even contribute to thinning hair and traction alopecia.

Alternative: Switch to a gentle, microfiber hair towel or an old, soft t-shirt for drying your locks. These materials are much smoother and less abrasive than traditional towels, allowing you to gently blot and squeeze the moisture out of your hair without causing unnecessary friction or breakage.

8. Hair Extensions and Wigs

While extensions and wigs can give us the long, luscious locks of our dreams, they can also put a lot of stress on our natural hair. The weight and tension of these accessories can lead to traction alopecia and excessive shedding over time.

Alternative: If you love the look of extensions or wigs, consider using clip-ins or taking breaks from them every few weeks. This will give your natural hair a chance to recover and breathe.

9. Curling Irons and Straighteners

We all love the sleek, polished look of freshly curled or straightened hair. But those hot tools can be seriously damaging our locks. The extreme heat from curling irons and straighteners can cause dryness, breakage, and split ends.

Alternative: If you can’t ditch the hot tools completely, at least use a heat protectant spray or serum before styling. Try to limit your use of curling irons and straighteners to avoid excessive heat damage.

10. Hair Sprays and Gels

Those heavy-duty hair sprays and gels may keep your style in place, but they could be slowly destroying your strands. Many of these products contain drying formulas that can cause brittleness, breakage, and even hair loss over time.

Alternative: Opt for gentle, nourishing hair products that won’t strip your locks of their natural oils. Look for formulas with moisturizing ingredients like argan oil or shea butter. Your hair will be soft, shiny, and healthy – no crunchy, crunchy here!

In the quest for perfect hair, we often overlook the daily accessories and products that could be ruining our strands in the long run. But by making a few simple swaps and adjustments, you can protect your locks from damage and keep them looking their best. So ditch those harsh hair tools and embrace a more gentle, hair-friendly routine. Your tresses will thank you!

Dr Hamdan Hamed Abdullah

Dr Hamdan Hamed Abdullah

Dr. Hamdan Abdullah Hamed MBChB, co-founder of, is a UAE-based board-certified dermatologist. Committed to natural hair care, he's been quoted in MSN, Yahoo, The Mirror UK, Daily Mail UK, Chronicle Live, Gulf News, among others. He specializes in natural hair care, supporting individuals with a range of hair textures to achieve their hair goals