Curly hair and rubber bands don’t go together.

We really hope we’re not saying anything our audience didn’t already know, but if we can save anyone a little grief with a few tips on how to remove rubber bands without damage to your curls, it’s worth it to make the statement.

A picture of multi colored rubber bands piled together

iStock/Dominique Landau

Yes, sure, maybe you used the mini ones on the very very ends of your braids as a little girl, colorful ones in protective styles with untextured braiding hair, or in a SEVERE pinch when you just have to get your curls up and out of your face for that post-work kickboxing class; but if you’ve been grabbing for office supplies instead of proper hair accessories more often than not, you’re going to run into some issues. But don’t despair. We’ve got answers for you. For instance….

1. Cut them out!

This is honestly the easiest way to get the bands out of hair without losing hair. However, obviously you need to be very careful not to cut your hair. So don’t go just whacking at the problem area—you’re preforming a delicate operation, not an old-timey rainforest expedition. If the band is wrapped around several times, don’t try to cut the entire band in one movement. It is better to cut through the top layer of the band only and then gently unwind the rest of it as best you can. Make sure you cut the band with the tip of the scissors so you don’t end up cutting the band with the middle of the scissors and your hair with the tip! Precision is key here, so if you have a good set of nail clippers or even cuticle scissors on hand, feel free to reach for those instead of your normal house scissors. Your curls will thank you.

2. Roll them down

If you aren’t confident or comfortable enough to put scissors that close to your hair, we don’t blame you. But that means you’ll need to remove the rubber band the old-fashioned way. While many people treat a rubber band the same way they treat a band-aid with the ‘Just rip it off’ approach, this is the wrong way to go if you want to save your strands. When it comes to how to remove rubber bands without damage or breakage, slow and steady is much better for your hair than trying to remove it in one quick tug. You want to roll the rubber band gradually down instead of tugging at it. It’s either have patience or have a pixie cut, so unless you’re looking for an excuse to change up your look, choose wisely!

3. Get to greasing

There’s always something to be said for bringing a little slippage into a rough situation. If your curls are seriously snarled around the rubber band in question, slicking your strands down with a conditioning agent will make it the easier to get the rubber band to give up its hold on you. Most leave ins will work on looser rubber bands to help prevent breakage, but if the rubber band is tighter, straight oil is a better bet since it is thicker and will create more slip. Go ahead and grab your cooking oils, mayo, or even some butter if you’re not a LOC method type with hair oils on hand—the goal here is to get your hair free no matter what. Between going greasy for a day and loosing hair, we know what we’d pick.

4. Get some help

It can be embarrassing to try to get a rubber band out of your hair and fail, but not nearly as upsetting as if you can’t get it out or end up taking a chunk of your hair with it! Don’t be too ashamed to ask for help from your stylist or even a friend with more hair experience than you to lend a helping hand. If you are dealing with a band in the back of your strands, you will benefit even more from enlisting another set of hands than trying to do it yourself. Suck up the shame go for it. It might be awkard with people you don’t know as well, but consider the unbanding a bonding experience, then go forth and learn from it.

5. Just don’t use them!

We promise that we’re not here to judge, but putting rubber bands in your curls is just asking for hair trouble. Even our non-textured brothers and sisters out there know this. The rubber pulls at your hair, tangles in on itself, MELTS, and just generally comes in to mess up your situation like a needy ex. Avoid using them at all costs!

Do you constantly find yourself reaching for rubber bands when you’re out of alternatives?

The answer to that is simple: just don’t let yourself run out! Scrunchies and hair ties can be bought in bulk fairly cheaply if you know where to go. If you’re not as organized as you’d like to be just yet, save up about $15, and buy several packs to keep on your desk, in the bathroom, in the car, at the office, and wherever else you happen to be! You’re well worth the investment.

If you absolutely, 100% must use a rubber band, try to keep them closer to the ends of your hair and away from your roots. If your hair is long enough to need a rubber band, it should be long enough for you to put into a braid, or into two pigtails and rubberband the end of that, rather than put the band close to the root of your hair.

Curlies, do you have any rubber band related hair loss horror stories?

Share your tales and any other removal tips you might have in the comments!

No comments yet.