There have been a raft of hair loss stories around the world over the past few weeks about the increasingly ubiquitous ‘man bun’, with the focus less on the look as a fashion trend and more on the fact that wearing one can lead to a condition called Traction Alopecia.
But the story has been given extra traction – no pun intended – with the news last week that a University in Idaho has effectively banned the hairstyle with the introduction of a set of rules that govern students’ appearance.
According to an article in Brigham Young University’s student newspaper Scroll, the campus’ Student Honour Office has announced that man buns fall under the category of “extreme hairstyles” and that those who wear them will be disciplined.
“As part of the dress and grooming code,” said a spokesman, “a man bun would be considered not consistent with this standard.”
When man buns go bad
Already a mainstay of women’s hairstyling, the man bun has been growing in popularity over the past couple of years, with everyone from Jared Leto and Harry Styles to Gareth Bale (pictured) having given it a try. Whilst occasionally sporting this look is unlikely to cause any problems, what many regular wearers are finding to their peril is that it can be seriously bad for their hair. Recent media speculation even suggests long-term man-bun fan Leonard DiCaprio recently ditched the style after hearing of its hair loss links.
The main problem is that the man bun typically pulls hair tightly at the back of the head where it is positioned, and also causes tension around the hairline, which can lead to thinning hair around the temples and a receding hairline.
This pressure, and the use of harsh hair ties such as elastic bands, can lead to hair breakage, which means that the shaft of the hair snaps as it is forced into place for prolonged periods. This can give the appearance of thin, frizzy hair.
In more extreme circumstances, constant wearing of man buns can lead to the more serious complaint known as Traction Alopecia. This hair loss condition also goes by the nickname ‘Ballerina Baldness’ due to the number of dancers affected as a result of often having to wear their hair in tightly-scraped, tense buns positioned high on their crowns.
Is the ‘man plait’ any better?
In light of recent revelations, it seems the man bun might be running out of steam; the trend arguably reached its peak last week when a Photoshop-manipulated image of US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump sporting a man bun spread like wildfire across the internet.
Unfortunately it looks like a replacement trend in men’s hairstyles – the man plait – is taking over from the bun – and it’s arguably even more damaging to the scalp and is also a prime cause of Traction Alopecia hair loss. According to a feature published by the New Zealand offices of the magazine Stuff, “the man plait is quickly overtaking the man bun.” Bad move. Not only can plaits often pull hair even tighter than when it is worn in a bun, but styles tend to be kept in place for longer, too.
What is Traction Alopecia?
Traction Alopecia can affect both men and women and is typically evidenced by a thinner-than-usual hairline. This occurs as a result of hairs being tightly pulled back into the bun, or plait. Because the hairs at the hairline are typically pulled back further than others in order to be secured in the style, they often show the first signs of damage. What happens is that the tension on the hair stretches the hair follicles and damages them, causing them to weaken. This, in turn, leads to hair loss both around the hairline and sometimes also in patches around the area where the detrimental style was placed.
Whilst Traction Alopecia treatment can help to regrow lost hair, often the best answer is simply to change hair styles at the first sign of trouble. Ways to minimise the risk of this include ensuring the hair is tied loosely with a soft, non-snag band, alternating the man bun with other styles, and letting hair hang loose while sleeping.
Given that the man bun is typically worn by men in their 20s and 30s, it is entirely possible that a receding hairline due to Male Pattern Baldness could be the underlying cause of thinning hair, and a change of hairstyles isn’t going to help. However, it is worth noting that both male hair loss and traction alopecia can present simultaneously. A visit to a hair loss specialist for anyone concerned about their shedding will enable a professional to ascertain the exact cause – or causes – and tailor a bespoke treatment plan to halt further hair fall and encourage regrowth.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.