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Take it from me: Traction alopecia is no joke

People are having a good laugh this week at the expense of those men who love to rock the man bun.

The look might be super trendy, but more and more men are seeing dermatologists because their hair is falling out and they’re freaking out. “It’s really, really common,” Jackson, Mississippi, dermatologist Sabra Sullivan told Mic of the condition known as traction alopecia. “I see it probably once or twice a week.”

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My response to the crisis? Duh. Millions of women — especially women of color and those with super fragile hair — have experienced traction alopecia resulting from years of pulling hair back into tight updos or constantly adding too-heavy extensions. The intense pressure on the follicle leads to eventually hair shedding and possible follicle death or scarring — and once it’s gone, it’s not coming back.

Take my hair, for instance. I’ve fought with my hair for years, thanks to the blessing and the curse that is naturally curly hair. I was teased mercilessly in school for having “big” hair, so the only way I knew to combat the bigness was by pulling it back into a tight ponytail accessorized with about nine gallons of hairspray. Over the years, this hairstyle formula led to constant breakage and small hairs wisping in the breeze at the nape of my neck and on my front hairline. Not only that, but I recently compared photos of my hairline from a few years ago to more current shots, and the position of it is noticeably receded (at least to me). And there are spots on the back of my head where I can see a definite thinning of the hair. Not good.

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Lucky for me, I have a lot of hair, so unless someone is specifically looking for signs of baldness, they’re not going to notice anything. But that doesn’t mean I don’t worry about the state of my hair 10, 15 or even 20 years down the line. I have stopped wearing my hair up as much, but old habits certainly die hard when you have a bunch of unruly curls and hit the gym on the regular.

So, take my advice: Ease up on the tightness. I’m not saying you can never wear a cute topknot or sleek pony again, but just don’t do it every day. Otherwise, you’ll be investing in plenty of bobby pins to cover breakage and cover spots where hair just won’t grow anymore.

And that goes for you too, man bun connoisseurs.

More: New book teaches women to love our hair despite all beauty standards

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