How to keep hair healthy while it's up.
May 11, 2015 1:44 PM   Subscribe

What are the best hair accessories to minimize breakage and damage during physical activity?

I have long, thick, straight hair. I have a kickass hairdresser who gives me great cuts and I use decent products. My hair is soft and shiny most of the time. I almost always wear my hair down, except for when I am active, which is at least five nights a week. I alternate between buns (for dance classes) and ponytails (for everything else). I don't like wearing headbands and cutting my hair off isn't an option.

I'm hoping you all can recommend some accessories that will minimize breakage and damage while keeping my hair up during vigorous physical activity. I'd like recommendations for things widely available online or in Canada. Also, I'd like to be able to put my hair in a bun with relative ease, so suggestions about that are welcome too. Thanks!
posted by futureisunwritten to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Buy a Ficcare Maximas clip, seriously. I have long hair, and my Ficcare holds my hair up with no movement when I run, or during any other activity. Unlike butterfly clips etc., the Ficcare holds firm in your hair without needing readjustment throughout the day. They're expensive but hold up to daily use for forever. One of my favorite purchases. The medium works for me for my bra-strap-length thickish hair, but you might want a large if yours is any longer or thicker.
posted by ClaireBear at 1:51 PM on May 11, 2015 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding the Ficcare, and, try Goody spin pins for a bun.
posted by kellyblah at 1:58 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

French braid. I use it for exercise and sleep.

If the hair near the front of your face is too short to stay in the braid on its own (if you have bangs or layers or something), put that hair into a front side twist, and french braid your hair as usual.

If you still want a bun: what I do is to braid the hair down to the nape of my neck or at least the middle/back of my head, and then just twist the rest and put it into a bun with a ponytail holder. The bun stays pretty well if, in addition to the ponytail holder, you pin the bottom of the bun to the hair *beneath* the ponytail holder (right against your head) with crossed bobby pins.
posted by rue72 at 2:03 PM on May 11, 2015

I can't seem to find them anywhere but the dollar tree, but they have these hair bands/elastics that have a sort of rubber stripe curled around them, and they stay in place so well. Goody used to make them, for active or sport type stuff but i can't find them now. but the ones from the dollar store are perfect.
posted by lemniskate at 3:39 PM on May 11, 2015

Best answer: Goody spin pins for the bun. I bought a different brand (at Sally Beauty Supply) and they were crappy. But the goody ones are great.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:26 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's not very fashionable, but a smooth fabric scrunchy is very un-damaging.

I feel like advice/experiences will vary wildly depending on how bouncy the activity is, just how long your hair is, how heavy, and how slippery. My hair is long enough to sit upon, and I've never personally found anything besides a simple nape ponytail bound with metal-free elastic to hold continuously throughout vigorous physical activity. A braid to the ends of the hair makes a heavy club whacking my back as I run; the weight of a bun and the resonance of rhythmic activity makes it eventually bounce free from its anchor points, with uncomfortable whacking motions as it goes.

I use the thick, regular ouch-free Goody elastics, and I make a small ponytail on top (kind of like a half-updo, but using less hair and with less decorative intent) just from the hair in the front which includes short bits (I don't have any bangs or layers, but there is always new growth) which will tend to blow into my eyes and the parts which tend to get sweaty. This mini-ponytail gets bound with the rest into a nape ponytail and the ends are allowed to bounce mostly painlessly on my back and shoulders as they will. (The result ends up looking vaguely mohawk-esque in the front.) This doesn't sound like it would work for a dance class, but for running or something, it's probably as close as you can get to the comfort of having all your hair loose, but less impractical. Depending on weight of hair, you can divide this up into two or three smaller ponytails, either mohawk-style or side-to-side. It does tend to allow the hair to tangle, so if a braid or bun will hold for you, that would probably be better.

Since you don't mention unusual considerations, perhaps other options will work for you. I plan revisiting some of the other suggestions myself. I found a few discussions (here's one, here's another, here's a mega-thread) at the Long Hair Community, which is a great resource for people who want to keep their hair long and strong.

Regarding buns in general, I'm not sure what specifically you're asking for help with about them--different ways to make buns, how to get them to hold better, making them neater if you get flyaways, how to make them hold firmly, how to make them in the first place? I also like the Goody spin pins, although these days I use hairsticks most of the time--I have them in right now. My favorite everyday hairstyle is a figure-8 bun using hairsticks. There are all kinds of tutorials on YouTube using hairsticks, hair forks, flexi-8s, and everything else you can think of. It distributes weight pretty evenly and, once you figure out how to use them, the hairsticks hold extremely well. I can jump up and down for awhile with them in, although I haven't chanced it for a long run and it may not be practical for actual exercise.
posted by spelunkingplato at 4:57 PM on May 11, 2015

Braid, then wrap the braid around itself at a good balance point for your head, secure with pins at several points.
posted by Mizu at 5:17 PM on May 11, 2015

Another vote for Goody Spin Pins.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:55 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use the giant wavy bobby pins to keep my long, straight, thick, and heavy hair up in a bun- several of them. The spin pins didn't work for my hair - it's too sleek, even when dirty. Even the bobby pins don't hold up for vigorous activities but it's been better than elastics for buns.
posted by umwhat at 7:45 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is there a performance difference between the acetate and enamel Ficcare clips?
posted by Jane Austen at 10:07 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I rely on either one or two braids, depending on what I'm doing. A good french braid distributes the weight evenly preventing damage. When I must use a bun, I use fabric head bands to wrap my bun. More coverage means softer pressure points.
posted by myselfasme at 6:04 AM on May 12, 2015

My job involves running and other exercise. A bun works best for me, hands down, in terms of getting the mess of my face and staying cool (bare neck). You want the old-fashioned U-shaped bobby pins. They work like levers rather than depending on actually gripping the hair. I find that one they're in there right, they never ever come loose.

I learned how to use them from YouTube (and bought them on amazon - they can be a little hard to find in stores); the method that works best for me is to do a ponytail with a standard elastic, then twist and wind the hair into a bun, pinning as I go, starting at the center of the bun I'm forming.

Pro tip I never saw online when obsessively trying to figure out hair buns: the first 3 or 4 pins, i.e. the ones at the center of the bun, bear the brunt of the weight. So if you feel like you did a poor job getting those ones in the right spot or angle, do yourself a favor and just start over.

Seriously this is the easiest and best hairstyle ever for an active person. Since I figured out how to do it right, I have literally never once had to re-do it while at work. Unheard of.
posted by jessicapierce at 7:56 PM on May 12, 2015

I agree with scrunchies. Though tacky, they really are the best. I just bought a bunch of these mini scunci scrunchies which work well for both ponytails and buns. I have super thick, but very fine hair that won't stay in place because it's slippery. In the past I've used those rubber-coated hairbands, but they rip the shit out of my hair. And those stretchy ribbon ponytail holders do nothing for me. These really work and don't look so stupid as full-sized scrunchies. I wear them for running, hot vinyasa and to sleep in. Bonus — no ponytail bumps.
posted by Brittanie at 9:14 PM on May 13, 2015

I'm late as usual, entirely sedentary, and I don't currently have long hair, but when I did, it was mid-back length, heavy, and very slippery (couldn't even hold a braid). The only thing I could get to stay in place at that point was a high bun, spiral-wrapped style not vertical-looped style (I don't remember what you usually call them so I hope that's descriptive enough?), clipped at 2 points (usually top and bottom) with mid-sized Linzi clips. I didn't bump my head on the car head rest or catch on my work headset, and where in any other style, including a basic ponytail at any height, I would have to redo it throughout the day, once I put it up like this, it didn't budge until I took it down at night.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 12:41 PM on May 18, 2015

Response by poster: I knew the fine folks of this site would have some fantastic recommendations and I was not disappointed. I gave the Goody Spin Pins a whirl and five dollars later (and about 30 seconds), my hair is snug and secure for dance class tonight, without the usual frustrated wrestling with elastics and bobby pins. And after further research, I'm also going to get myself a Ficcare clip. Thanks gang!
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:54 PM on May 20, 2015

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