Are Rubber Bands Bad for Natural Hair? (Best Answer)

Last updated on April 24th, 2024 at 05:04 pm

Are rubber bands bad for natural hair? Have you ever wondered if rubber bands are causing you hair damage? If so, you are in good company. In this post I’ll share with you my thoughts on using rubber bands, especially on fine natural hair.

are rubber bands bad for natural hair
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When we were little girls our moms styled our hair with ponytail holders and rubber bands. At least mine did.

At the time, we had no idea how doing rubber band hairstyles on our precious young curly hair would affect it. Fast forward to adulthood where we are no longer working with a child’s hair and many of us still use rubber bands in our hair.

Well, let’s address the question at hand: “Are rubber bands bad for natural hair?” Again, remember I’m speaking as a natural with fine hair.

The answer is yes or no. Sound ambiguous? Stay with me.

It’s not yes AND no because you can’t have it both ways at the same time. The reason the answer is yes OR no is because it depends on how you are using the rubber bands, the type of rubber bands being used and how you remove them from your natural hair.

History of the Rubber Band

history of the rubber band

Before we get into how to use rubber bands and more, here’s a brief summary about the history of the rubber band.

The first rubber band was created by a gentleman by the name of Stephen Perry. He was a businessman and 19th-century British inventor. His corporation was called, The Messers Perry and Co, Rubber Manufacturers of London.

The company’s early inventions consisted of vulcanized rubber. Rubber that’s been vulcanized is rubber that’s been hardened through a process that uses heat and sulfur.

On March 17, 1845, Mr. Perry received a patent for the rubber band which was initially invented to hold envelopes and papers together.

Since then, people have used rubber bands in various sizes and lengths for many other uses including:

  • Securing hair so it doesn’t unravel
  • To create designer hairstyles
  • Using as a bookmark
  • As a visual cue or reminder, usually placed on the wrist
  • Fashion (ex: to hold pants up)
  • To hold broken pieces together
  • To hold eyeglasses on the face

The Rubber Band Method

rubber band method on natural hair

When using rubber bands to style your hair, check out these tips so you don’t experience hair loss or hair breakage. Let’s take a look at what some call the Rubberband Method.

This “method” is simply a way of using elastic bands or rather, rubber bands to put your hair in box braids. The hair bands are also supposed to relieve some tension at the roots of the hair when synthetic hair is installed to create longer braids.

This method also helps the style to last longer. You can also do it with twist hairstyles.

Tupo1 on Youtube shares 6 really cute styles (although quite intricate) using a type of rubber band method on natural hair:

YouTube video

She has short textured hair but she demonstrates doing the styles with added hair.

Surely, if you have longer hair, you can do these styles. In fact, I tried one on my own fine natural hair. Of course, I slightly modified it so I wouldn’t incur breakage:

safer alternative to rubber bands

I have natural curls too and because I consider myself to have fine precious strands, I used my seamless elastic bands instead of rubber bands.

The Best Way to Use Rubber Bands

protective styling with bands

If you still want to use rubber bands in your hair, the easiest way to do so is using only a few.

For example, you want a flat twist type of hairstyle where the front of your hair connects but you don’t know how to actually flat twist!

You can use a rubber band to secure a few sections of hair to connect the sections so that they mimic a flat twist.

Of course, your hair won’t really look like it’s flat twisted. This is just an alternative way to create a similar look.

How to Reduce Hair Damage Using Rubber Bands

When you do go to put rubber bands in your hair. there are a few ways to be proactive about it so you don’t damage your hair. These include:

  • Making sure you apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner to the hair shaft (applied to dry hair)
  • Always working with detangled hair (Check out my detangling process here.)
  • Coat the rubber band with oil. Oil covered rubber bands are easier to remove (even though the bands are weakened by the oil over time)
  • Use looser rubber bands that are slightly over stretched. When you put them in, don’t make them tight.

To Make Removing Rubber Bands a Bit Safer

While there’s no 100% safe way to take rubber bands out of natural hair, there’s a few ways that help improve the safety level. These include:

  • Using the tip of a bobby pin to lift the band so you can loosen it for removal
  • Taking the tip of the scissors (hair shears) to cut the band out. Just be careful not to cut your hair

Each of these is a good practice for all hair textures.

When To NEVER Use Rubber bands

when to never use rubber bands on natural hair

While using rubber bands from time to time won’t cause much damage, there’s definitely some times when you should NEVER put rubber bands in your natural hair. These times include:

  • When you have wet hair
  • Your hair is very fragile and already breaking a lot
  • Doing styles with very small sections (see sectioning natural hair)
  • When your hair is tangled
  • For a long term protective style

If you do use rubber bands on your hair in any of these conditions, you will likely experience a stunt in your hair growth (rather length retention).

When not used properly, rubber bands can also rip your hair right from the hair follicles.

So, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Alternatives to Using Rubber Bands on Natural Hair

seamless elastics vs rubber bands

Typically when styling what some would call ethnic hair (or black hair… I’ma just call it natural hair), it’s a good thing to mainly use accessories with soft materials and natural fibers like silk.

While many rubber products use synthetic materials, most brands that make rubber bands use natural rubber because the natural rubber fiber has the best quality elasticity. However, while rubber bands may be constructed of natural materials, they simply aren’t the best for using in natural hair on a regular basis.

There is a safer alternative. Each of these are gentler for your hair:

  • Snappee hair ties
  • Seamless covered elastic bands
  • Small seamless cotton hair elastics
  • Miniature satin scrunchies

Swirly Curly Hair Ties

Swirly Curly ties are a somewhat new invention on the scene (definitely not around as long as rubber bands). They are super cute and easy to put in with a snapping closure feature.

Seamless Covered Elastic Bands

Bands that are covered with material (it’s typically cotton) and have no seams are a bit safer than regular rubber bands due to their thickness. You still have to be careful when you take them out though.

Small Seamless Cotton Hair Elastics

These are definitely what you are used to seeing used in a child’s hair but if you can get them in black or beige (if your hair is very lightly colored), you can get away with using them.
Like the seamless covered bands, their thickness helps them to be a bit safer for your hair.

Like the seamless covered bands, their thickness helps them to be a bit safer for your hair.

Miniature satin scrunchies

Last but not least, are satin scrunchies that are made super small. These aren’t easy to find in stores but they are the safest alternative to rubber bands for your hair.

Amazon just so happens to carry them though (like everything else):

The best hair ties will be the smoothest material that don’t snag your hair. That would be satin or silk. It’s up to you to figure out the right hair tie for your hair.

If you have long hair, you definitely want to scrutinize the type of bands you put in your hair because there’s even more of a risk for your hair to be damaged.

While using rubber bands can increase potential damage, you can use them sparingly in your hair care routine.

Some of the risks mentioned above may be to the extreme but who wants to even take the risk for a hairstyle when it can easily be altered with a safer alternative?

Rubber bands certainly aren’t going anywhere. They are one of those hair accessories that can come in handy if you are having a bad hair day. Just don’t make it a habit of using them all the time. Everything in moderation right?

That goes for rubber bands too!


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rubber band hair method

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