Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hair Ties (and more)

Plastic-free hair ties for kids, braids, thin hair

What’s the difference between a hair tie and a scrunchie? Why go plastic-free? And where did the term “ponytail” come from?! All your questions (and maybe more) are tied up in this post about all things hair ties.

What hair ties are best for your hair?

Determining the best hair ties for your hair is ultimately a personal choice. That said, there are some things to keep in mind when shopping around. More than just a humble accessory, a good hair tie helps keep your hair healthy, offers a fun fashion accoutrement, and can work double-time helping keep our planet ship-shape and its people happy and healthy.

In this post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of hair ties: which cause the least damage, the different kinds of hair accessories you might want for your hair and even some fun trivia about the history of ponytails. Hair we go!

Which hair ties cause the least damage?

A quick trip to your local pharmacy will reveal that hair ties can come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Here are a few you should be familiar with and their benefits:

  • Synthetic rounds: the most common type of hair tie on the market, composed of plastic-based ingredients.
  • Plastic coils: these stretchy, bouncy, synthetic accessories claim to cause less damage than synthetic rounds and prevent headaches when worn correctly.
  • Rubber bands and elastics: typically a plain loop of rubber or synthetic plastic, without any coatings or coverings.
  • Plant-based: the newest category of hair tie, inceptualized by yours truly. These can include conventional or organic cottons, or plant-based materials like bamboo or Tencel.
  • Silk: a natural material that is tame on your mane but unfortunately, not vegan or cruelty-free. Silk, if you’re not aware, is spun by moths. The moths are killed during the process. It takes 35,000 silkworms to create 5.5kg of silk. 

So, which one causes the least damage? 

All things being equal, silk has a slight advantage due to the fact it causes the least friction in hair. If vegan or cruelty-free are important characteristics to you, a close second for performance are plant-based hair ties, especially organically-grown alternatives. Organic production creates a softer end-product (similar in texture to silk) that is gentle on hair, allows it to breathe and prevents headaches. 

And yes, our hair ties are always plastic-free, organic, and vegan

best type of hair ties for hair

Do hair ties damage your hair?

Hair ties can cause damage if they’re worn too tightly or if we continuously put our hair up in the same position.

There’s a trick to proper hair tie usage: slow down. By being more mindful when you sweep your hair into a ponytail or bun and slowing down the process, you greatly reduce the risk of snagging your hair. And, by adjusting the tightness of your up-do, you’re giving your head a welcome break.

Switching up the materials in your hair ties can also prevent damage. Plant-based ingredients like organic cotton and natural tree rubber offer a more relaxed feel, while still getting the job done. Have you ever held conventional cotton and organic cotton at the same time? Organic cotton is noticeably softer and your hair will appreciate that.

Since we’re all about feeling good at KOOSHOO, we recommend that the next time you head out for a run or workout, rethink how you’re using your hair ties and what they’re made of. 

Why do ponytails cause breakage?

Ponytails are an amazing solution to long-hair woes: they’re a quick way to keep our hair contained. But, they can cause breakage when tied up too tight. Think about the last time you geared up for a long hike, run, or workout: what did you do with your hair? You probably tied it up into a ponytail, maybe putting it up extra high and tight to keep it secure. After all, if you’re climbing mountains or about to slam a serious surf sesh, the last thing you need is to worry about your hair getting in your face!

It turns out that when we do this, we put a lot of tension on our hair and that creates friction between our scalp and your hair. Eventually, that tension can lead to breakage. Perhaps it’s time to shake out our ponytails and loosen up a bit.

The best hair tie in the world won’t prevent breakage if we continue to over-stress our hair. But, when applied correctly (and by slowing down), using a hair tie that is composed of materials that are gentle on your locks will have you hiking, surfing, and being active in no time. 

And it’s worth noting that materials make a difference, too: a ponytail fixed with a plant-based hair tie, particularly one composed of organic cotton, is less likely to snag or tug your hair as you move around.

A model pulls back her auburn hair with a KOOSHOO plastic-free, organic cotton hair tie

What is a hair tie called around the world?

A hair tie is simply a tool we use to keep our hair secured (usually away from our face). For as long as people have had hair, we’ve been inventing ways to keep it tied back: historically, with pieces of ribbon, pins, or fabric.

Around the world, hair ties are known by many names, including hairbands, hair elastics, and ponytail holders. In our search, we found several other noteworthy terms:

  • Bobble (UK)
  • Haargummi (Germany)
  • Ponytail holders (North America)
  • Lacca bands, lackey bands, rubber bands (Western Australia and Victoria in Australia)
  • Bobbin (Ireland)
  • “Queue” in 18th-century Europe (French for “tail)

What do people call ponytails?

If you’re wondering, “Why ponytails?” all you have to do is take a look at a pony and its tail: pony plus tail! The ponytail hairstyle looks an awful lot like the tail of a pony. Research shows that the ponytail has been around for quite some time: the ancient Greeks were donning this hairstyle as far back as 2000-1500 BC! 

Other names for ponytails and general “updo” styles are pigtails, bunches, or - man buns!

Have you noticed the name of our blog? Ponytales is our cheeky take on the ponytail hairstyle. The blog delivers abundant answers and solutions to your hair-tie conundrums. Check it out, today!

What do men call a ponytail?

We were surprised to learn that as far back as the 17th century, it was common for men to wear their hair in ponytails: usually, long hair tied back with bits of fabric or ribbon. Men’s hairstyles have evolved over the centuries, with long hair and ponytails coming in and out of favour depending on the style of the day.

These days, man buns are a popular, versatile hairstyle for those wanting to keep their locks loose but secure. We were tickled by this Vox article explaining the various forms of the man bun. Who here rocks “The pineapple”?? (For the uninitiated, the “pineapple” style of man bun is for those with just a little bit of hair to pull back, often a single shoot of hair tied up in the center of your head.)

A male model secures his hair into a low man bun using a KOOSHOO plastic-free, organic cotton scrunchie.

Can I use a rubber band as a hair tie?

Let’s talk about rubber bands. You might think that these are a quick, easy way to keep your hair tied back. After all, they are ubiquitous and you probably have a few stuffed into various drawers in your home. And, in the name of sustainability, shouldn’t we be reusing as many materials as we can? Rubber bands are tempting.

While we’re certainly not going to tell you what to do, we do know (from personal experience and through our professional hair-care friends) that rubber bands are the most likely to cause breakage in your hair. Because they are pure elastic, they often catch or snag, causing kinks, breakage, and a whole lot of headaches. Ouch!

A better solution is to invest in hair ties or scrunchies that are composed of plant-based materials, like organic cotton. Our hair ties are made by using organic cotton thread that has been sewn around a band of natural rubber. And our 100% fair-trade and plastic-free scrunchies offer an even gentler experience with the same, natural rubber tucked inside a round of light, airy organic cotton.

What are the best hair ties to prevent breakage?

how to prevent hair breakage

Hair ties - when used correctly - can reduce or prevent damage to your hair. Here, we’ll discuss a common hair malady (split ends) and why plant-based hair ties might actually be better for your hair than plastic-based clips or ties.

Do hair ties give split ends?

Split ends are usually the result of improper hair care techniques, weather, or the use of chemical products. We’ve all experienced our hair feeling like “straw” - that unpleasant sensation of rough, dry, and brittle ends.

But your hair ties can also be causing split ends and other damage! As we’ve discussed, our hair ties can cause damage if we wear them too tight or if we rush through putting our hair up. And,  materials really do make a difference. Synthetic plastics can lead to snags, kinks, and splits. It’s a world of hair hurt.

The kinder your accessories (and you) are to your hair, the more they (and you) will protect it. 

organic plastic-free hair ties for kids, thin hair, braids

Are clips better for your hair than hair ties?

Hair clips offer a versatile, relaxed way to keep your hair tied back, but the jury is still out on whether or not they are “better” than hair ties. In some cases, they can cause less breakage if used properly, particularly with certain hair types. And sometimes, hair ties and clips can work in tandem, being mutually beneficial for your hair.

As we’ve mentioned throughout this post, material choices matter for clips too (for both your head and the planet). Most clips on the market today are still made from synthetic, plastic-based materials.

What’s better (or not) will ultimately come down to your personal preference and application. We are not going to be running any marathons or heading to bed wearing clips, anytime soon! And we do often wonder: while our hair is perfectly capable of surviving without clips, can our hair survive without hair ties?

Do plastic hair ties damage your hair?

Short answer: yes. 

Long answer: Any hair tie can cause damage to your hair if worn or used incorrectly. 

However, we cannot be more clear here: material choice matters. It matters for your hair and for our planet. Synthetic materials are often extractive and wasteful while organic, plant-based materials can be regenerative and healthful.

If you’re wondering how long it takes for plastic hair ties to break down in our environment, read this blog post, How Big a Problem Are Synthetic Hair Ties?’

Why are scrunchies better than hair ties?

Scrunchies have the possibility to be better for your hair because they offer more surface area for your hair to wrap around. Think of them as a pillow for your hair! That extra material creates less pulling on any one spot on your head. Hair ties, in comparison, are smaller and when used for updos like buns or ponytails, concentrate your hair in a smaller area.

When a scrunchie is composed of softer materials - like organic cotton - this added volume of “scrunch” allows us to create a bit of a magical situation: a loose-yet-firm hairstyle. The magic is all in the material, where it (this soft, pillowy scrunch) does the heavy lifting rather than the elastic itself.   

Should I sleep with my hair in a scrunchie?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the best way to wear your hair when sleeping is down and loose. But, we have all experienced the frustration of wanting to go to bed post-shower or the feeling of waking up with your hair stuck to your face. It’s not the best look!

A scrunchie is a great solution to keeping your hair secure while you snooze, but it’s worth remembering that not all scrunchies are created equal. The best materials for your hair are plant-based, organic, and cruelty-free, such as organic cotton. Happy dreams then are virtually guaranteed.

Are scrunchies still in for 2022?

Are Scrunchies still in style?

We are stoked to see that scrunchies are making a comeback! If we’re being honest though, we probably don’t need a “trend” to have an excuse to wear them. 

Scrunchies are like big, cuddly hugs for your hair! We prefer to think of them as hair tie’s older, eccentric sister: they’ve been around for a long time, but they’ve still got lots of pizazz. Other hair accessories may come and go, but scrunchies are timeless: too comfortable and healthy for your hair to disappear.

Scrunchies are a simple and casual solution for taming your mane, say while working from home, running errands, or sleeping at night. Chances are good that if you just need to sweep your hair up, you’ll want to opt for comfort over the trend-du-jour. We’ve done our best to mimic the scrunchies we grew up with, all while keeping them sustainable, subtle, and timeless. 

Three packs of KOOSHOO plastic-free, organic cotton scrunchies in multiple colour swaths.

Are claw clips or scrunchies better?

There is always room in life for multiple products to suit your varied hair needs. The trick - in our humble opinion - is to find a product you love and that you can wear comfortably when no one is looking. When you, your hair, and the planet can benefit from something regenerative, organic, and sustainable, everybody wins.

Why it’s important to use plastic-free hair accessories

the best plastic-free hair ties

Google wants us to tell you that the best solution to damage-free hair is a plastic-based hair tie accessory. *sigh* 

Sorry, Google. We disagree, and here’s why:

  1. Plastic is derived from petroleum. In the fashion industry, plastics are given many different pseudonyms to make them sound more pleasing: nylon, polyester, spandex, luon…the list goes on. But remember, no matter how catchy the name, the root of the material is always the same: plastic. It’s the old “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

  2. Plastics aren’t ideal for hair accessories because they don’t breathe as natural fibres do, and healthy hair needs air! And, on a much bigger scale, they simply never break down. This means the hair ties you wore as a child likely still exist in their entirety somewhere today - and will go on existing for generations more.

  3. In the USA alone, we estimate that 15 million plastic hair ties are lost or tossed every single day. These end up in landfills, waterways and oceans. That’s a city bus worth of plastic hair ties (by weight) being lost or tossed daily.

  4. A better product exists. Better for your hair, better for your wallet. Better for the makers. Better for the planet. Ten years ago we at KOOSHOO created the world’s first commercially-made plastic-free hair tie and by continuing to innovate, we’ve kept 2 million plastic hair ties from landfills. We’ve proven that stylish, functional and high-quality hair ties can be made from plants. 

Google may not know it yet but the secret is out: plastic hair ties are a thing of the past. Our future requires better hair ties in every way and KOOSHOO is more committed than any other company in the hair accessories world to providing that.

We’ve shared a lot of details about how and when to use hair ties and scrunchies, the benefits of going plastic-free, and why slowing down will keep your hair healthy.

Now we want to know: what’s the hair accessory you’d most like to see re-designed in a planet-friendly way?

A grey-haired model wears her hair up in small bun using a KOOSHOO plastic-free, organic hair tie.

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"The best hair tie I've ever used. The fact that it adheres to my standards of a planet friendly product is a bonus!"
- Melody P.

"You guys, these scrunchies are ridiculous. I have THICK hair and I'm so pumped that not only can I wrap it around my hair twice, but it stays in without slowly falling out."
Sarah L

"I think the headband is my favourite one I have ever worn to be honest!!"
Kaitlynn M.