Notice your hair looking a bit scant here and there? Your hair style may be part of the problem.

Actor Chris Hemsworth"Man buns" — the likes of which celebs from Jared Leto, Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris Hemsworth (right) to Brad Pitt and David Beckham have been seen sporting — and tight hairstyles in women (buns, tight ponytails, cornrows) put constant pressure on hair and hair roots. This can lead to breakage and even contribute to permanent hair loss, says dermatologist Nicole Rogers, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University.

“Anything that pulls you hair tightly in one direction is going to damage your hair,” she says.

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Called traction alopecia, this type of hair loss has a nickname: ballerina baldness. Yes, those ballerina buns, too, can lead to localized bald patches.

In New Orleans, Rogers sees many African American men and women with hair loss after wearing tight braids and cornrows. Localized hair loss from these causes can be halted and often reversed simply by a change in hairstyles, she says.

Paradi Mirmirani, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, says she sees hair loss in teens who tie their hair back ”super tight” for sports. “Everybody’s tolerance is going be different,” says Mirmirani. “Listen to your scalp. If it hurts, don’t do it. Redness or scaling can be a sign of damage.”

(Photo: JOE KLAMAR /Getty Images)

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Hair today, here tomorrow

In addition to how you wear your hair, how you style it can contribute to damage. Here are some tips on avoiding damage to hair, courtesy of Rogers, Mirmirani and the American Academy of Dermatology .

Treat wet hair gently. Straight hair breaks more easily when wet. Handle straight wet hair as little as possible: Wrap in a towel or air dry. Tightly curly or textured hair, on the other hand, should be gently brushed when wet.

Let hair air-dry partially before you style or comb to limit damage. Reduce the number of times a week you use a blow dryer, which should be set on low or medium.

Take care with flat irons or curling irons. Use on dry hair only, on low or medium settings and no more than once every other day. Curling irons should be held on hair only for a few seconds.

Minimize hair brushing. Contrary to the 100-brush-strokes myth, hair brushing contributes to split ends.

Use fewer “long lasting” styling products. Combing your hair after using these products can cause breakage.

Avoid hair extensions. Some people with hair loss use clip extensions to mask hair loss, but it’s a vicious circle, says Rogers. The hair extensions put pressure on existing hair follicles and can damage them.

Lose the uber-tight buns. “Go for a looser bun, and don’t wear one every day,” Rogers suggests. “The less tension the better — in fact, the less you do to your hair, the better.”

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Judith Horstman ( is an award-winning journalist specializing in health and science. She has been a Washington correspondent, university professor and Fulbright scholar. She has also written for many publications, including Time Inc.,and is the author of seven books, including four Scientific American books about the brain.