Hairstyles That Could Trigger Migraines

A bad hair day can be such a headache. But if you’re among the 1 in 4 American women who have migraines, your hair can actually be a real headache. Everything from the shampoo you use to the way you cut your hair could trigger a migraine.

We asked Steve Waldman, a 30-year hair industry veteran and the technical artistic director and product consultant for the Hair Cuttery Family of Brands, for his advice on how to keep your hair habits from triggering a migraine.

Hair Don’ts and Hair Dos

Don’t: Use accessories that create excessive tension. Ponytail ties, clips, and bobby pins can hold a ‘do tightly in place. But, Waldman says, “The pressure that these accessories exert on the scalp can cause headaches even if migraines.”

Do: Wear a loose do. Rather than tight, high ponytails, keep your ponytail low on the crown of your head. Go for a soft scrunchy rather than unyielding elastic.

Do: Try scalp massage. Another way to ease tension on your head? Massage your scalp while you shampoo. “Use the cushioned part of your fingertips, not your nails, and you will feel your scalp loosen as stress is released and blood flow increases,” Waldman explains. And let’s be honest: There are worse things than slowing down to do a little self-scalp massage in the shower!

Don’t: Wear headbands. You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who hasn’t ever gotten a headache from a headband. The problem is, you often don’t realize it’s too tight until it’s too late. “Stress-induced migraines can really be focused on the temples and sides of the head, so headbands that apply too much compression can exacerbate a migraine condition.” If you absolutely must wear a headband, he says, find one that fits as loosely as possible and is made of a soft, textured fabric.

Don’t: Let hair hang in your eyes. Eye strain can trigger migraines. So keep your vision clear and your hair out of your eyes, Waldman suggests. That means you may have to skip the dramatic eye-skimming fringe and look at other options.

Do: Stay on top of bang trims. If you want bangs, stay on top of them to keep them out of your eyes. If you love the idea of fringe but don’t want the upkeep, curtain bangs might be the trend for you.

Don’t: Use heavy scents. Strong-smelling shampoos and conditioners are a no-go. “Migraine sufferers know that smells are powerful triggers to headaches and migraine episodes,” Waldman warns. “It’s best to avoid any hair products or cosmetics with strong fragrances or odors.”  

Do: Check out the array of fragrance-free products available. When you lose the fragrance, you don’t have to lose out on luxury. There are a ton of high-performance, fragrance-free shampoos, conditioners, and styling products out there. Most high-end lines you find in salons have fragrance-free options. Retail and online stores also stock entire lines of fragrance-free hair care products at a range of prices.

Do: Sleep on silk pillowcases. Not only do they help prevent tangles and knots in your hair that could require headache-inducing brushing to remove, they also offer benefits to your skin and feel cool and comforting to the head when you have to lie down with a migraine.

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