Rumours have been circulating that the man bun — the latest in men’s hairstyle trends — causes damage to the hair follicles, including hair follicle death, scarring, and even baldness.
“They’re putting traction on the hair follicles that the hair is not really meant to take,” Dr. Sabra Sullivan, a dermatologist from Mississippi, recently told millenial news site Mic of people who use the hair style. This can result, she said, in a condition known as traction alopecia, which is becoming more and more common among men, partly due to the man bun.
But other dermatologists say there’s no need to freak out. We spoke with Dr. Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist with New York City practice Wexler Dermatology, about whether or not the man bun is any real cause for concern.
“Traction alopecia is caused by wearing a hairstyle that continuously pulls really tight on the hair and hair follicles, resulting in such damage that they don’t grow hair anymore,” she said. “With regards to the man bun, if they’re not pulling it tight, they’re not losing hair.”
The real cause for concern is repeatedly wearing the style, and wearing it too tight. Occasionally pulling your hair back into a bun, ponytail, or any other up-do — provided it’s not pulling on the hair follicles — is perfectly fine, said Fusco. “If the hair is put up loosely you can put it up every day,” said Dr. Airan.
“It’s like wearing cornrows or weaves or any other tight style,” Dr. Fusco said. “It has to be continuous to cause damage.”
New York dermatologist Lisa Airan agreed.
“If the tension is every day and constant, it is more likely to lead to alopecia,” Dr. Airan said.
Dr. Fusco also warns, however, that men who are genetically prone to male-pattern baldness or thinning should approach the man bun with caution. And sticking with the same super-tight do every day is a bad idea.
“If a man already has androgenic male-pattern thinning at the temple, pulling it tight might make it worse,” she noted.
The point that both Dr. Fusco and Dr. Airan make is that the man bun, and similar styles, are no cause for alarm so long as you take care of your hair and scalp. If you’re into the man bun, Fusco suggests using a soft scrunchi rather than a rubber band and loosening it up if you ever feel pain, itching, or redness.