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How To Avoid the Dreaded Headphone Hair & Hair Loss

Last updated: 1 year ago
7 min read

Have you ever noticed a dent in your hair or individual hair stuck on your headband after wearing headphones? Can headphones make your hair worse and even cause hair loss?

Learn what’s happening with your hair when you wear headphones and if that’s something to be worried about.

Headphone hair
CONTENTS (show more)

    What is Headphone Hair?

    Headphone hair is when a headphone’s headband leaves a dent in your haircut.

    Why do you get headphone hair?

    Hairs grow upwards and start bending with length. There’s a layer of air between the scalp and the top of your haircut (the thicker the layer, the more “volume” your hairs have).

    1. A headband compresses that layer, pushing hair against the scalp. Since the latter naturally lubricates itself by releasing grease, it gets transferred to your hair.
    2. Skin sweats due to the headband blocking ventilation. It creates a sort of “glue” that holds your hair in place.

    The speed at which headphone hair occurs depends on your hairstyle and whether you use products to shape and harden your hair.

    Haircuts with a lot of “volume” commonly suffer the most, as there is a lot more air between your scalp and the top of your hair that can be compressed.

    Styled haircuts also dent very quickly and are the most difficult to recover. More on that later.

    Hair products
    Hair products melt under the headband and stick to it or harden after you wear your headphones, leaving you with a big indentation.

    On the other hand, people with short hair or no hair at all don’t have to worry as much about headphone hair. But due to their exposed scalp, they’re likelier to get a headphone dent.

    Can Wearing Headphones Cause Hair Loss?

    It’s unlikely for headphones to cause hair loss, at least not permanently. However, there are ways your headphones might be responsible for losing hair.

    Headband rubbing your hair

    The way to make a stuck thing easier to pull out, you wiggle it around to loosen its base. A similar thing happens with your hair if you aggressively rub it with a headband.

    That is called traction alopecia. By constantly pulling your hair, you loosen up its shaft, so it doesn’t hold to your head as firmly as before, making it easier to fall out.

    You can observe this type of baldness if you wear overly tight pants that rub against the hair on your legs. Eventually, you end up with bald spots all over your legs.

    • The solution is to relieve the pressure of your headband by extending the adjustments. Make sure to feel it on top of your head barely but not so loose your ears carry all the weight.
    • Take regular breaks by taking headphones off your head.
    Woman with braided hair
    Similar hair damage occurs if you constantly tighten your hair, like wearing braids.

    Headband sticking and pulling your hair

    Sometimes hairs get stuck or glued onto a headband, which pulls them off when you remove the headphones.

    That happens in 2 cases:

    • Fabric headband – Some headbands are smooth (made with leather or other alternatives), whereas some use knitted fabric to increase breathability (workout headphones or gaming headsets). Hairs poke in between the knitting, and when you remove the headphones, they get stuck, so you pull them off your head.
    • Using hair styling products – Sprays or gels dry and keep your hair in a desired shape. However, your scalp starts sweating under a headband, wetting the styling products and causing hair to stick to a headband. Consequently, you pull some of your hair off after every use. And, hair products make headphones dirty.

    How to Prevent Headphone Hair

    Several methods can prevent headphone hair, some more effective than others. Here are some suggestions.

    Adjust the headband, so it doesn’t touch the top of your head

    The dent in your hair will be much more visible if you place a headband in the middle of your head.

    By moving the headband slightly towards the back, the dent won’t be as pronounced.

    Push headphones towards back
    Simply push the headphones slightly towards the back to avoid getting an indentation.

    Of course, try regularly switching headband positions during usage. That way, you reduce the chance for your hair to dent fully in one specific spot.

    Take frequent breaks between wearing headphones

    Take a break every half an hour or so by taking headphones off your head. Studies have shown that a short walk after 30 minutes of sitting can minimize the risk of various health conditions.

    After you wear headphones, comb your hair

    After every listening session, comb your hair to hide away a potential headphone dent. Your hair should be as good as new.

    No need to comb them after every break since that will only grease them up faster.

    Adjust the headband’s height

    Make sure to extend the headband to the point where you barely feel it on top of your head. If you feel it pressing down, it needs to be expanded more.

    The more your headband presses down, the deeper your hair indentation will be, so be sure to properly adjust your headphones before usage.


    Here’s more on how to wear headphones.

    Choose the right type of headphones

    To eliminate the chance of headphones ruining your hair, pick in-ear headphones instead.

    However, some don’t like the feeling of having something inside their ears, so full-sized headphones are the only option.

    In that case:

    • Opt for headphones with a gentler-pressing headband. A suspension one or with wings (like some Audio-Technica headphones use)
    • Pick lighter headphones that won’t press on top of your head as much
    Audio Technica ATH-R70x
    Audio-Technica ATH-R70x use headband wings that gently rest on top of your head.

    Avoid using hair styling products

    Even a little grease and sweat can hold your hair in place. Adding sticky hair products into a mix only results in a stronger “glue”.

    That makes it harder to get rid of the dent quickly. You will have to redo your hair to fix the indentation.

    Change your hairstyle, so it’s less susceptible to headphone hair

    It’s a drastic but effective solution. The least affected hairstyles are very short or shaved hair or long hair.

    How to wear headphones with long hair

    Long hair is immune to headphone hair. Since they’re long, they fall down quickly and only have a little volume on top of your head.

    Even if you get a dent from headphones, simply combing your hair or tying them into a ponytail solves the problem.

    Woman sports headphones
    If you have longer hair, you don’t have to worry about headphone hair.

    How to wear headphones with curly hair

    If you have natural curls or put effort into making them, you don’t want to crush them. Here’s what you can do to avoid ruining your haircut.

    Fully extend the headband

    Raise the adjustable headband above your haircut if possible. You will look a bit silly, and the entire weight of your headphones will be on your ears. Also, any head movements will push headphones off your head.

    However, you will avoid crushing your hair.

    Fully extended headband
    Fully extending the headphone band only works if you listen to music perfectly still.

    Wear headphones upside down

    Another unconventional way of wearing your headphones is by placing a headband under your chin.

    However, that might be uncomfortable for your ears, and you might not get a proper seal due to the unnatural headphone position.

    Headphones upside down
    Turning headphones upside down can work, but at least in this case, we couldn’t get a proper seal.

    Regularly change headband position

    Firstly, avoid pressing heavily on your head with a headband. Secondly, regularly move the headband around your head. Preferably, let it rest somewhere in the back of your head.

    How to Get Rid of Headphone Hair

    The speed at which you get rid of headphone hair depends on whether you use hair products.

    Here are a few methods to return your hair to its natural form.

    Combing your hair

    This only works on hair without any styling products.

    To increase the effectiveness of this method, use a hair dryer while brushing dented hairs back up. The heat from the dryer will make your hair easier to reshape.

    However, this can take a lot of time, and you don’t always have a dryer near you. Try the method below instead.

    Wet your hair

    Since hairs get stuck with grease and sweat, quickly washing hair will clean them.

    Use a fresh towel to dry your hair; you should be as good as new.

    If you can still see some indentation, wash your hair with shampoo. The dent should disappear completely.

    Washing your hair with a shampoo fixes even the deepest hair indentations.

    Use styling products

    If washing your hair isn’t an option, use products like styling gel to bring that dented hair back up.

    However, the results aren’t always the best, as the dented hair wants to go back down. However, all hairstyles are a bit different.

    Cover you hair

    If you can’t wash or style your hair, using a hat or a beanie will make you look stylish and hide away your headphone hair.

    A hat is a standard solution for people during bad hair days.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Does headphone hair go away?

    Headphone hair doesn’t go away fast on its own. The best you can do is agitate your hair and wash or comb it for much quicker results.

    How do you stop headphone hair?

    You stop headphone hair by regularly repositioning the headband and moving it to the back of your head. Frequently take headphones off your head, and have very short or long haircuts.

    Can wearing headphones cause hair loss?

    Headphones can cause minimal temporary hair loss if you constantly rub your scalp with a headband. However, you don’t have to worry about getting bald due to headphone use. It’s not permanent.

    Do headphones ruin your hair?

    Headphones can ruin your hair by constantly rubbing them, causing them to break or loosening up the shaft, making it easier for them to fall out. However, that only happens with prolonged use and in most agitated areas.

    Is it OK to wear headphones with wet hair?

    Wearing headphones with wet hair can lead to the additional greasiness of your scalp that hasn’t had the time to dry. Also, moisture can get absorbed into a headband and ear pads, making them smelly and full of stains over time.

    Read more on the topic:


    Now you know what headphone hair is, why it occurs, and how to control it. The best way to avoid headphone hair is by preventing it.

    • Take regular breaks from listening, readjust the headband, and use lightweight headphones.
    • You can fix headphone hair by washing them with some water and brushing them dry.
    • Never use hair styling products if you plan to wear over-ear headphones.

    Picking one of the most comfortable headphones on the market can also help reduce hair indentation.

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