How to Stop Headphones From Messing Up Your Hair


In an increasingly digital world, headphones are becoming some of the most valuable tech accessories on the market. Wireless, over the ear, earbud- every model seems to offer a new and improved variation on headphone functionality. One thing that headphones haven’t quite seemed to master yet, however, is how to not mess up a user’s hair. 

Despite the advent of wireless headphone options, many people still use classic over the head style headphone models that cause all kinds of problems when it comes to your hair.

From dandruff to tangled hair to hair loss, headphone hair creates endless problems. However, just because you pop on a set of headphones doesn’t mean your hair is automatically doomed. We’ve put together a list of tips, tricks, and recommendations to help keep your hair in top shape no matter what headphones you’re using.

You can stop headphones from messing up your hair by avoiding headphones with tight headbands, wear a cap or hat for protection, or adopt a hairstyle which keeps your hair stable. You can also use earbuds that bypasses your hair altogether.

Why Headphone Hair is a Problem

For people who don’t regularly use headphones, you might be wondering what the big deal is about headphone use. Regular headphone use can cause a lot of serious problems for your hair and scalp, including:

Traction alopecia

Most people have heard of alopecia, the autoimmune disorder that causes people to lose hair at random and leads many to shave their heads completely. However, there’s a second and more common form of alopecia known as traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is baldness caused by friction or traction to hair follicles. Your hair falls out as a result of tension or pressure on your head, which can be caused by headphones. 

We’ll talk about different types of headphones in more detail later on, but the most common type of headphone is two earbuds joined by a band that fits tightly over your head and holds the two earbuds in place. The friction between the headphone and your band can cause traction on the hair follicles, literally making your hair fall out because of your headphones.

With extended headphone use, you can end up with entire bald patches in the areas where your headphones usually rub.

For more information on traction alopecia and how to potentially reverse its effects, check out this video.

Tangled Hair

Keeping your hair smooth, tangle-free, and presentable is already a challenge for many of us, especially if you’re blessed with naturally textured tresses. For people with curly or straight hair, wearing an over-the-head headphone set can put your headphones in direct contact with tight headphone plastic or leather, which is a majorly bad idea.

Direct contact between your hair and your headphones can cause your hair strands to tangle and knot far more easily. Repeated tangling and stress to the same area of hair can weaken and break off the hair strands over time, leading to increased split ends and even uneven patches of growth in obvious locations over your head.

Thinning Hair

Thick, luxurious hair is one of the most versatile hair types in the world, but it’s also the most at risk from conventional over the head headphones. The friction caused between your thick locks and the headphone band can rough up your hair follicles, tear away strands, and thin out your hair in a major way over time.

Your hair is especially at risk if you have naturally dry strands or frequently dye or heat style your hair. Naturally brittle strands are even more likely to snap or shed with constant headphone use, which could lead to an unfortunate and unsightly bald patch well before you’re ready for it.

Hair “Dents”

Perhaps the most noticeable downside of all when it comes to headphone hair, pesky headphone dents seem to form quickly in a hairstyle even with just an hour of use. These dents or depressions in the natural shape of the hairline and scalp are less than ideal, and sometimes they can persist even after a shower depending on how long you were wearing headphones.

These dents are troublesome reminders of the danger of wearing headphones for too long; the molded shape of the headphones eventually molds even your hair follicles to its position, which can weaken your hair’s overall strength and create more hair loss issues down the line in addition to the undesirable dents.

Are There Other Options Besides Headphones?

If you’re in need of a good set of headphones but aren’t willing or able to deal with the hair damage that might result from using headphones regularly, there are other options available to you. From gaming headsets to wireless earbuds to adjustable head-band headphones and more, here are some of the best headphones to protect you from hair damage.

Best Adjustable Over the Head Headphone- Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

These top-notch headphones offer a high-quality audio experience and are perfect for musicians or producers getting ready to mix their own music. They’re definitely pricey, but their functionality and protective design make them worth the price.

They’re comfortable, long-lasting, and provide adjustable padded over the head support that doesn’t tear or damage your hair.

Budget Gaming Headset Buy – JLab Play

JLab Play
JLab Play

For an affordable but high-performing and protective gaming headset, look no further than the JLab Play gaming headset. This wireless gaming headset sits lower down on your head for reduced tension and strain on commonly balding areas of the head. They perform well as a gaming device, but can also multitask and serve as great headphones for virtual meetings or listening to music.

This headset’s audio quality is spectacular for the price. The comfortably fitting earphones offer good, though not perfect sound reduction as well, meaning you’ll be able to listen to music with ease and clarity without having to deal with restrictive gripping over your hair.

Bluetooth Behind the Head Sport Wireless Set

Bluetooth Behind the Head Sport Wireless Set
Bluetooth Behind the Head Sport Wireless Set

If you’re looking for a headset option that doesn’t require over the head support, these sport wireless headphones are a perfect fit. Portable, efficient, and designed to reduce traction on your head and hair, this Bluetooth set is perfect for people on the go.

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods
Apple AirPods

The iconic wireless AirPods from the Apple brand, these wireless earbuds redefined wireless and bluetooth headphones for the entire world. These petite and cordless earbuds tuck neatly into your ears without any contact with your hair or scalp, making them ideal for when you don’t want anything damaging your hair or your scalp.

Is There a Way to Fix Headphone Hair?

If a headphone is an unavoidable part of your daily routine, getting preventative practices into your everyday life can help reduce the damage that regular headphone use can cause. Check out these tips for some top headphone and hair protection:

Protective Hairstyles

Certain hairstyles can shield or protect your hair from major tension or friction, especially during headphone use. Braids, ponytails, buns: anything that gets your hair off your scalp and situated more freely underneath your headphone band will go a long way towards reducing the friction and traction that can cause headphone-related hair loss.

Avoid wearing headphones over wet hair; your hair is naturally weaker and is more likely to catch or tear.

These protective styles can also help with the infamous headphone dent that often forms. If you style your hair in a braid or two, your hair will absorb the natural wavy texture of the braids instead of the pressuring dent caused by the headphone set. You can also put in detangling spray or curl cream to help preserve and protect your hair texture from the additional damage of headphone usage.

Consider a Hat

Beanies might just be a headphone wearer’s best friend. Not only a recurring fashion staple, beanies also provide major protection against the elements, including direct headphone/hair contact that can cause hair damage or tangling.

You’ll want to look for a thinner beanie that doesn’t make your head too heavy or put too much pressure on your headphones. Slip the beanie neatly over your head for a completely encasing and protective look that’s funky and safe for your hair while still allowing headphone use.

Adjustable Headphones

Another drawback to the over-the-ear headphone model is that the band is oten uniformly unadjustable and sits tightly against the wearer’s head. With an adjustable headphone band (a.k.a not a self-adjusting model), you can make size adjustments as needed to help loosen your headset and prevent traction alopecia.

The higher-quality your headset model is, the more likely it will offer additional adjustments or personalizations for band size, so make sure to research your headphone brand extensively to see if it can fit your head and hair needs. 

Whether you’ve been fighting with headphone hair for years or are acting preemptively, looking for headphone solutions that reduce hair loss and promote resilient and healthy headphone use will transform your headphone experience. No matter what brand or model of headset you choose, as long as you begin to make conscious choices to protect your hair you’ll be able to continue using your headphones and rocking your glamorous hairstyles for years to come.

Rune Bearson

As you can see, I love my headphones! I use them every day when commuting, watching YouTube videos, playing guitar/piano and doing chores. I'm a podcast addict and I like all kinds of music from metal to chillout ambient.

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