Photo: Arthur Elgort/Contour Style by Getty Images
Odds are, at one point or another, you’re going to want to pull your hair out of your face, especially if you’re currently wearing a way-too-grown-out quarantine cut. But a surprising amount of the hair ties on the market will actually do your hair more harm than good. Some ponytail holders will trap and break dry or fine hair. Others will leave creases on thick, kinky hair. Use the wrong hair tie and your stylist will most likely be able to spot the breakage and damage at a glance. “A major issue with common hair ties is that your hair gets stuck in the fibers, and when you pull them out, you’re pulling out hair,” says Dominick Pucciarello, a New York hairstylist. So to find the best hair ties — the kind that’ll treat your precious strands with kid gloves — for all kinds of hair, we asked 11 hairdressers to share their favorite elastics, ties, pins, and bands.
Three of the eleven stylists we talked to recommended coil-style hair ties, which have become popular in the past couple of years and look like pieces of old-school telephone cord. Despite appearing slightly intimidating and like they’d be sure to tangle your hair, they will not, our stylists confirm, saying they are ideal for people who want to sleep in hair ties or just wear them without rumpling hair too much. Two of our experts specifically mentioned these Invisibobble ties. “This doesn’t pull the hair and isn’t likely to leave a crease,” Pucciarello says. Andrew Fitzsimons, a stylist in New York, agrees: “The traceless hair ring leaves no dents or bumps in your hair, is comfortable to sleep in, and is durable enough to hold any texture.” And if you’re more of a scrunchie person, the brand just launched some with its trusty coiled hair tie sewn in.
For the same price as the Invisibobble hair ties, you get eight of these Kitsch ones, and Tiffany Hunter, owner and master stylist at Damn, Glam!, swears by them. “These are such a classic for me, and they work on every hair type,” she says. She uses a lot of Kitsch’s products but calls these the “MVP” of her kit. “They’re designed to not pull the hair or be too tight on the head, yet they still do the job seamlessly,” she adds. The brand offers smaller packs, in case you don’t want eight of them, but this is a particularly good deal at just $1 per coil.
Beth Weber, hairstylist and founder of Refuge Hair, recommends this set of eight coiled hair ties from Anthropologie because they’re more affordable than Invisibobble and come in charming pastel colors with a matte finish. They have a slightly smaller coil than the Invisibobble or Kitsch hair ties, but that doesn’t impact how well they work, Weber promises.
Two of the stylists we talked to agree that Scünci No-Slip Grips are great for basically all types and textures of hair. “Whether you have heavy hair or fragile, finer hair, No Slip Grip holds hair in place without any damage,” says Laura Polko, a Los Angeles hairstylist. Liana Zingarino, a stylist at Serge Normant by John Frieda Salon in New York, confirms that they work well for wavy and curly types, too. “They have the same sleek, anti-breakage appeal as Scünci’s traditional no-damage ties but are made of a thicker, anti-slip material to keep curls in place,” she says.
While Cassandra Normil, New York City–based session hairstylist, says these could work well for any hair type, she thinks they’re “especially amazing for anyone who has thick, natural, and curly hair.” She has naturally coily/kinky hair, and these work well for her because they “don’t snag or break and are very flexible.” These are Gimme’s thickest style, meant for very thick and curly hair, but if the style appeals to you and you don’t need such a heavy-duty tie, Gimme offers “different sizes of hair ties based on your hair density,” which Normil thinks is one of the perks of this brand. You can get a fine fit, long fit, and “any fit” for medium hair types, and Gimme offers different colors. For those not sure which option will work best for them, there is a “fitting kit,” which is a mix of four different hair-tie types.
According to two of our stylists, damaged, processed hair probably benefits most from the revival of the scrunchie trend, since those don’t expose hair strands so directly to elastic. If that’s not appealing or scrunchies still make you think of Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell, Marissa Robinson, a stylist in Washington, D.C., suggests Silke Hair Ties by Silke London, which are basically a scrunchie–hair tie hybrid. “They offer great hold without snagging the hair, and they’re all the accessory you need,” she says.
This set of smooth-surfaced hair ties came recommended by Nelson Vercher, a senior stylist at Rita Hazan in New York City who calls them ideal for “delicate, easily broken strands,” saying, “They’re very smooth, so they won’t snag on hair.” Vercher also likes that they come in a wide variety of colors.
Fitzsimons is a huge fan of the Snappee Hair Ties for women with natural texture hair, braids, or dreadlocks “because they don’t use the traditional elastic tension found in common hair ties,” he says. “Plus, the soft texture of these doesn’t create frizz, and they can be customized to fit your hair’s thickness while snapping back into shape after use.” You can also combine two Snappee hair ties should you need extra length.
Weber told us that she loves using these ponytail holders with hooks on the ends for her own hair as well as on clients. Weber says the hooks “help you adjust tension as needed.” Because they’re literally open-ended, these elastics, which fasten with little hooks, can be worn as tightly or as loosely as you like. That flexibility, in turn, reduces stress on the hair.
Celebrity hairstylist and licensed cosmetologist Jasmine Burnside prefers the bungee-style hair ties from Kitsch. While they only come in black and they’re not a bulk buy like the others, Burnside says these also allow you to “get a really tight or ‘snatched’ ponytail look with ease that will hold all day” because it won’t slip out or cause that extremely tight feeling some hair ties will.
“My absolute favorite hair ties are the Goody Ouchless elastics,” says Felix Fischer, a hairstylist in New York. “They’re perfect for every texture because they’ll never pull on the shaft, which is great for hair that needs some extra TLC,” he adds. These are also nice because they’re available in black, brown (seen here), and blond, so that the colors help the tie blend seamlessly into strands.
Along with her recommendations for coiled, silk-wrapped, and adjustable hair ties, Weber suggested trying knotted elastics that, like the ones from Emi-Jay — which are actually also a favorite of Suzanne Somers — can be purchased online or, if you’re crafty, can easily be made at home. Weber likes them because they’re both “gentle on your hair and gentle on your budget.” If you’re thinking of making your own, her advice is to buy several yards of spandex elastic ribbon, cut it into about two-inch-long strips, and then simply tie a knot in the end. Because of how thick yet flat the elastic is, they don’t leave a crease, so if you’re the type of person who switches up your hair throughout the day, these might be a good choice for you.
Normil recommends silicone hair ties because they’re “easy to clean” with “no drying time” — “yes, all hair ties need to be washed, clean, and dry,” she adds. They’re much easier to maintain, and you don’t have to toss them once they get dirty, as you would other elastic hair ties. These from Mia Beauty “give you an all-day hold with no slip and slide,” and Normil thinks they work for “any hair type and density.”
If you don’t want the ponytail holder to show, try these clear elastics that Burnside says “give you the tight-ponytail looks without pulling or snagging the hair.” They’re flexible yet durable, so they won’t break on you, and Burnside specifically calls them “amazing.”
For short cuts, braid ties, or any other smaller twist, Polko swears by Polybands, which slide easily on and off and come in five compact sizes, which tend to work better for smaller ponytails or buns. The clear, reusable hair elastics disappear even into the most intricate of styles. “Always Polybands. Always,” she says.
“TGTDYH makes some of the best hair ties for the people that love the classic black hair tie,” says Hunter. She thinks they’re particularly good quality, but the best part is that they come in a convenient carrying case if you’re on the go and always scrambling for a hair tie. You can stick with the cardboard case they come with or upgrade to a reusable acrylic case. And even if you’re not traveling — because who is these days? — the case will prevent you from constantly losing your ties.
Hunter says Posey is her “absolute favorite” brand to buy hair ties from. As she explains, “Not only is the company woman owned and operated, each scrunchie is handmade with handpicked fabric specifically to have nothing but a positive impact on your hair.” She thinks these work well for all hair types, and if you don’t need quite as thick of a hair tie, Posey offers a skinny version, too. The company offers dozens of different patterns and colors, so you’ll be sure to find something that suits your style.
“If you want to get more fancy with your hair ties, the Slip silk skinny scrunchies are the way to go,” says Normil. Not only do they look nice, but the the silk is actually “great for your hair” because, as she explains, “it keeps the moisture and the natural oils” intact. Weber says that the best hair ties “have a good amount of elastic while, at the same time, the fabric on the outside is smooth and slides against the hair to help prevent pulling and breaking.”
Burnside calls these scrunchies “perfect for when you get out of the shower and need to pull your hair back but want to get the excess moisture out without overdrying or damaging your hair.” Due to the microfiber, towel-like material, they’ll help dry your hair and won’t leave a crease as it dries. “I love using it while I’m getting ready in the morning and applying makeup,” adds Burnside.
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