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Nataly Henderson
Published on February 04, 2021

In the movies, playing with hair and twirling it in a circle has been long associated with flirting. In reality, it is often a nasty habit that harms your hair and speaks of stress and anxiety.

Read on to know why you should better leave your hair alone and what practices will help you stop touching your hair so often.

Why Do Women Play with Their Hair?

Most women will agree that touching hair, twirling the tips, constantly pulling hair back from the face, stroking your mane, and other signs of “hand-in-hair syndrome” are all subconscious actions. But why do we do them after all?

Psychology has an answer here: these actions are comforting. Many women cling to their hair as a source of confidence and touch it when they want to regain self-possession. Likewise, when women are not satisfied with how their hair looks or feels and this harms their self-esteem, they use fidgeting with hair as the way to “fix” their hairstyle or at least distract from it.

Woman Touching Her Straight Black Hair

Pexels / Teguh Sugi

Note that if the habit started as a soothing activity but remains just a habit, people might still “read” your body language this way. Suppose you touch your hair several times on a job interview. This will be understood not as you taking pride in your carefully selected hairstyle for a job interview but as your lack of confidence and uneasiness.

There is nothing wrong with setting your hair in place now and then. Still, if you touch your hair frequently all the time, this may be a symptom of anxiety disorder and can develop into trichotillomania – compulsive hair pulling that causes visible hair loss.

Related Post: 5 Tips for Living with Trichotillomania Based on My Honest Story

Stay conscious about when and how often you touch or pull at your hair for a day or two to understand if you have this habit and how bad it is.

Woman Touching Her Natural Afro Hair

Pexels / Gabby K

Is Twirling Bad for Your Hair?

When our hair looks greasy, dry, and frizzy, we are all too eager to blame it all on heat styling, wrong products, or cold weather. In fact, touching hair often throughout the day may be just as damaging. Here are the negative consequences of fidgeting with hair to be aware of:

  • Greasiness and dirt. Our hands accumulate oils and dirt that get into our hair when we touch it. This makes our hair look greasy, triggers frequent washing, and clogs the scalp and hair follicles. Hands and touches also spread viruses, of which we have been recalled all too often lately.
  • Loss of moisture. Stroking hair may be triggered by the wish to soothe the feeling of dryness; however, it only makes matters worse. Touching hair, we strip it of its natural oils (the ones that make hair look shiny and healthy), causing even more dryness and breakage.
  • Frizz, knots, and split ends. No matter how tempting it is to play with coils, curly girls are taught not to fidget with their hair to have frizz under control. Now, it’s time to learn from them, as mechanical stress leads to split ends and hair breakage.
  • Hair thinning. Twirling your hair, you may unintentionally pull out some hairs. Doing so is harmful to the follicle, which trains not to produce new hairs with time. Repeated plucking can cause infection and bald patches.
Bride with Long Dark Hair

Pexels / Maria Gloss

5 Ways to Keep Hands off Your Hair

Now that you know that the habit is not harmless, you might want to get rid of it once and for all. Thankfully, we know how:

1. Take Proper Care of Your Hair

As mentioned above, you might want to touch your hair more often if you are not comfortable with your hairstyle or when your hair feels dry and brittle. Thus, why not start with getting a good haircut and committing to proper hair care?

If you feel the yearning to set your hair in place often during the day, consider short haircuts and haircuts that would keep your hair away from your face. If long bangs urges you to take it away from your eyes, better refuse from this hairstyle.

Curly Girl Holding Hair Oil

Pexels / Chill Jane

2. Occupy Your Hands

If you play with your hair because you love how it feels – this is often the case with curly girls who love spending time with their hands buried in their big hair – getting a nice fidget toy may help.

Make sure your cube or squeeze toys are with you when you want to concentrate on work or, vice versa, feel bored and do things mindlessly. These are often the moments when we disturb our hair the most.

Women with Curly Shag Haircut and Bangs

Pexels / Sam Lion

3. Style Hair in an Updo

Styling hair into an updo or at least half updo or braiding a tight braid might also help: pulling hair away from your face makes it out of reach for your fingers. Stick to such hairstyles for a while to break the habit.

4. Wrap Your Hair

Headwrap is another protective hairstyle that will help you break free from the hands-in-hair syndrome. If you are not good at styling silk scarfs, carelessly tie one when you are at home or just put on a bonnet. This will remind you not to touch your hair and prevent any unconscious attempts to do so.

Classic Turban Headwrap

Pexels / Andy Barbour

5. Train Mindfulness

The last recommendation can well be the first. Since we touch our hair without even noticing it, becoming mindful of the practice is the first step to leaving it behind.

Second, once playing with hair is associated with stress relief, mindfulness will help you realize what makes you anxious and will be a good stress-relief in itself before you find alternative coping techniques.

Loving your hair doesn’t mean patting and stroking it all the time. Wear your crown with confidence and dignity, and fight your urge to touch it.

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