Hair in a Tight Ponytail

Hair worn in a tight ponytail
Photo: Cookie Studio/Shutterstock
Q: For the past six years, I've worn my hair in a ponytail, a really tight one, always making sure it had no bumps and then smothering it in gel. After browsing the site, I realize that this is probably the cause for my dry, brittle, frizzy hair.
I actually thought this for a long time but how can I wear it down in the condition it's in? I've tried different products, but they don't seem to work. Is my hair beyond repairing? If so how do I fix it? And my last question is will cutting all but a few inches off and then letting it re-grow repair it? Thanks for your time.

A: Well, cutting off the hair and allowing it to re-grow will help you get a head of healthy hair if you make sure to properly care for it as it grows back, but I don't think you should pursue that as an option until you've tried the less drastic measures.
The first thing you need to do is deal with the symptoms. Your hair needs conditioning. It needs moisture. And it needs strengthening. My first recommendation is to have your hair deep conditioned. You may need to perform these treatments weekly or even more often.
Follow these treatments up by making sure to use a shampoo and conditioner that will help to make your hair smoother and silkier. You can easily find a number of brands of shampoo and conditioner that offer "smooth and sleek" formulas. These will help to restore the moisture to your hair and smooth the roughened cuticle layer to make your hair look better.
You can also find many restorative products that contain proteins which will help to strengthen your damaged hair and make it less susceptible to breakage. These products are designed to be used as styling products, and should be left on the hair rather than being rinsed out. This has the benefit of allowing you to help repair your hair while styling it in a pleasing manner.
As for addressing the cause of the problem, I want to remind you that wearing your hair in a ponytail isn't necessarily a bad thing. You simply have to remember to be gentle. You can't make your ponytails so tight that they put undue tension on the hair. Your best bet is to use your styling product to smooth the hair back, and then gather the hair into a tail without pulling it.
If your hair needs to be smoothed, then be sure to use a product that is low in alcohol or contains no alcohol at all. It's best if you use something like the restorative product or anti-frizz/smoothing serum, since these can help smooth the hair without drying it out.
See also:
How to recognize damaged hair
Protein hair treatments
How to put hair in a ponytail
How to get rid of frizzy hair
How to fix the crease in your hair after wearing it in a ponytail