If you’re one of those guys who follows celebrity fashion trends and hairstyles (and even if you’re not), you’ve noticed that a growing number of men are tying their hair up into a single knot on the top or back of their head. If you’ve been tempted to do the same to your hair, you may want to reconsider. A number of dermatologists and other experts believe that these man buns (sometimes called bro buns, hipster buns, or Samurai top knots) may result in permanent hair loss.
Here’s how it works. Pulling the hair back tightly and keeping it there for long periods of time puts an unnatural amount of pressure on the hair follicles and roots. If you’re lucky, your hair will simply break, but it’ll grow back. If you’re not, you can develop a condition called traction alopecia, which is a name for “pulling your hair out and leaving bald patches that won’t ever fill back in.”
Most men who wear man buns have relatively long locks. But there are plenty of guys with shorter hair—maybe an inch or two long—who wrestle their hair into painful looking buns that end up roughly the size of a blueberry.
Interestingly, traction alopecia isn’t confined to hipsters. It’s actually relatively common among Sikh men whose tightly wound turbans can pull on the hair. It also affects women (and men) who wear their hair in corn rows or tight braids, and female dancers, among whom the condition is called “ballerina baldness.”
If losing your hair isn’t reason enough to dump the man bun, you may want to consider whether it’s having the desired effect. Grooming retailer West Coast Shaving recently did a survey of men’s grooming trends such as beards, stubble, use of premium products such as face cream, straight-razor shaving, and man buns. They found that women like every single one of them—except man buns.
Sixty-two percent of the women surveyed said they either don’t like (35.5 percent) or hate (27.4 percent) man buns. And asked whether they think a current or past significant other would look attractive when sporting a man bun, 74.2 percent said “no.” Worse yet, the top five adjectives that come to women’s mind when seeing a guy with a man bun are, in order, feminine, trendy, weird, sexy, and hot. In case you missed it, “feminine” was No. one. Not the image most fashion-conscious guys are trying to present.
On the other hand, women see beards (again, in order), as manly, sexy, rugged, hairy, and scratchy.
It’s pretty easy to reduce the risk that your hairstyle will lead to baldness.
First, give up the man bun. Please. Second, if you absolutely refuse to take good advice, at least make sure your hair is long—that blueberry bun is especially dangerous. Third, simply (and literally) loosen up—don’t make those rows, braids, knots, or even ponytails so tight.
Finally, don’t use rubber bands—they stick to your hair, get it all tangled, and tear it out. Instead, go for scrunchies, which are snag-free. They come in manly black and brown or, if looking feminine is your goal, in pinks and other colors as well as with attached bows and flowers.