Odds are, at one point or another, you’re going to want to pull your hair out of your face. 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 eight hairdressers to share their favorite elastics, ties, pins, and bands.
Best overall hair ties
Three of the eight 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 looking slightly intimidating and like they’d tangle your hair, they will not, our stylists confirmed, 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.”
Best less-expensive overall hair ties
Beth Weber, hairstylist and founder of Refuge Hair, recommends this set of eight coiled hair ties from Anthropologie because they’re more affordable. We like that they come in a mix of pastel colors and have a slightly smaller coil and a matte finish.
Best hair ties for all hair types
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.
Best hair ties for damaged or processed hair
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.
Weber recommends a similarly skinny silk scrunchie from Slip, a brand that is also known for its silk eye masks, of which both Karen Walker and Tamara Mellon are fans. 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.”
Best hair ties for fragile strands
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.
Best adjustable-tension hair ties
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.
Best less-expensive adjustable hair ties
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.
Best color-matching hair ties
“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.
Best knotted hair elastics
Along with her recommendations for coiled, silk-wrapped, and adjustable hair ties, Weber suggested trying knotted elastics that, like the ones from Emi-Jay, can be purchased online or, if you have the time, 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.
Best mini hair ties
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.
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