Ah, headbands. They expertly toe the line between chic and practical: You can surely make a statement with a bejeweled accessory, or you can stick to a stretchy, athletic elastic. Whether embellished or no-fuss, headbands do a fabulous job of keeping your hair away from your face—especially those with a short ‘do or bangs, who may have a harder time securing the strands.
Now, headband instructions may seem rather simple (slide and go, you know?), and there isn’t really one correct way to position the fabric on your head. However, there is a particular marker to look for on your headband of choice—and if yours has this feature, you have to be extra careful not to cause breakage.
How to make sure your headband doesn’t cause breakage.
“Headbands, for the most part, are really gentle on your head,” hairstylist Levi Monarch once told mbg about the best hairstyles for working out (read: If you have shorter hair or want to secure bangs, he touts headbands as a great option). “But if you have those fine, little baby hairs, just be aware of if your headband has the rubber grip on the lining, which can pull on those.”
Essentially, sliding that lining along your hairline causes similar damage to using a too-tight hair elastic: The rubber causes friction on the hair, which can result in physical stress and breakage over time. Rubber-lined headbands can wreak a special sort of havoc on the feathery baby hairs, as those face-framing wisps are super delicate to begin with.
Of course, if your band does not have the rubber lining (wide cloth options and fashion headbands generally skip it), this does not pose as much of a problem. You’ll still want to be gentle as you slide on the headband, but softer, water-absorbing fabrics, like nylon or cotton, can offer a non-slippery experience without tugging too hard on the hairline.
We’re also not going to tell you to toss your rubber-lined headbands if you already own them—but if you do use one, just be super gentle as you slide it through your strands, and perhaps reposition it if you feel it pulling at your baby hairs. One more tip worth mentioning: If you’re wearing an athletic headband while working out, make sure to wash it after every use. Otherwise, the sweat and bacteria will accumulate on the cloth, which can transfer to your forehead the next time you wear it (hello, forehead acne).
Headbands are great: They help gather your hair away from your face and make quite the chic hair accessory. But if yours has that rubber lining for extra hold, you might be causing breakage at the hairline without knowing it. Try a gentler cloth option to secure your hairstyle—you can always clip away bangs or shorter hairs with pins.