Everyone with even semi-long locks knows that a good hair tie is crucial for keeping your hair out of your face while you’re sleeping, exercising, or dining al fresco. A bad one—one that slips down or pulls hair each time you let down your ponytail—is almost more trouble than it’s worth.
We tested 13 of the most highly rated hair ties, hair elastics, ribbons, scrunchies, and coils to see which ones most comfortably and effectively hold hair back. During the extensive testing process, it became clear the best hair tie wasn’t necessarily a certain type, but rather there were standouts in each category. As such, we’ve crowned four best overall picks: Lululemon Skinny Scrunchies(available at Lululemon) as the best scrunchie, 79 Style 100 Hair Ties (available at Amazon) as the best ribbon tie, Kitsch Spiral Hair Coils (available on Amazon) as the best coil, and Goody Ouchless (available on Amazon) as the best hair elastic.
These are the best hair ties we tested ranked, in order:
Lululemon Skinny Scrunchies
79 Style 100 Hair Ties
Kitsch Spiral Hair Coils
Goody Ouchless Elastics
L. Erickson Grab & Go Pony
Slip Small Slipsilk Scrunchies
Kitsch Pro Satin Scrunchies
Scunci No Damage Elastics
Kenz Laurenz No Crease Ribbon Elastics
Invisibobble Power Traceless Hair Ties
Teleties Spiral Hair Coils
Syleia 100 Hair Ties
Gimme Bands No Break Hair Ties
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Though undoubtedly pricey, these scrunchies intrigued me because they promise to “stay put while reducing hair breakage,” and slipping is something I often have trouble with, especially during exercise. Knowing Lululemon is a go-to for active individuals, I wondered if the benefits may justify the price.
At first glance, the hair ties look very well constructed. The material feels similar to breakaway athletic pants—soft but textured and slightly water-resistant. The hair tie proved to be very comfortable during both wake and sleeping hours, too. Though it only stretches to a certain point because of its fabric construction, it stretched well enough to wrap around my hair three times, creating a hold that was nice and strong, but with no strain. And because there are no grommets or hardware, the tie doesn’t snag at all when you slip it out of your hair, either. As a nice bonus, the Lululemon scrunchie sits loosely on my wrist—not loose enough to fall off, but not tight enough to leave an indent.
Throughout the day, which included a Peloton ride, a walk outside, and everyday housework, I didn’t experience any slippage. The only time some hair escaped was while I slept, but that’s a very common occurrence for my slippery, straight locks, no matter what type of hair tie I use. The Lululemon Skinny Scrunchies come in packs of six containing multiple color combinations from neutrals to vibrant hues.
You’ll instantly love that these ribbon hair ties from 79 Style come in an extremely budget-friendly pack of 100 in 20 different colors. There’s one in every shade you can fathom, plus glittery options to add sparkle to your look.
There’s more to love, though: The strip of knotted fabric is very flexible, so you can wear it comfortably no matter how much hair you’re tying back. Three loops was just right for a full ponytail of my relatively thick hair, but someone with thinner hair could easily get a tight fourth loop. Though it holds hair well, this ribbon tie is comfortable in every way. It glides out of the hair with ease, sits loosely on my wrist, and doesn’t dig into the scalp even when sleeping.
If there’s any downside, it’s that the hold wasn’t quite as snug as some of the other options I tested. As a result, this would be a stylish, everyday go-to for me, but I’d probably swap it out come time for my daily exercise.
In terms of function, the Kitsch Spiral Hair Coils promise to be “kind on hair, hold hair in place, and leave no marks or creases.” Overall, the product delivered. Though they have a finite stretch due to their plastic material, they are surprisingly malleable. Plus, the coils hold hair in place well, so you don’t have to stretch the hair tie to its full capacity for a good grip. Two turns around the hair were enough to hold my hair snugly enough for daily wear, while a third turn was preferable for exercise. And, as promised, there were no creases at the end of a long day of wear in my freshly blown-out hair (i.e., when it’s most likely to crease).
These coils I tested came in four shades designed to match brunette hair (there's also a set for blondes, as well as a pack of clear coils). While I wouldn’t say any of them match my hair color, they blend in and look unobtrusive enough if you’re going for an understated look.
This product lost points for comfort factors because it tugged a bit when I pulled it out of my hair and it was too tight to wear comfortably around my wrist. Still, if you’re after a coil hair tie, I noticed these same faults with all of the others, so I feel confident that Kitsch is the best you’ll get.
The Goody Ouchless elastics most closely resemble the rubber bands I grew up wearing in my hair. They’re budget-friendly and low-fuss. If you prefer a basic hair tie (i.e., not a scrunchie, ribbon, or coil), this is the best of the ones we tested, but it’s not without flaws.
The Goody Ouchless elastics most closely resemble the rubber bands I grew up wearing in my hair. The pack I tested came with 27 plain black hair bands that don’t contain any hardware. These hair elastics wouldn’t be the first choice for anyone looking to make a style statement with their hair accessories, but they’re a solid everyday option if your primary concern is getting a strong hold. The band is thick and tight enough to hold hair back all day and night. Yep, even my slippery hair stayed put overnight in this hair elastic.
However, they're not so "ouchless": A Goody elastics does such a good job at holding a ponytail that I found it to be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. It was also too tight to wear on my wrist and left a deep indent on my skin in a short period of time.
I'm Brigitt Earley, a lifestyle writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience testing all types of beauty products. And, up until earlier this year, I had very long hair. For the vast majority of my life, my thick, straight, brown locks landed well past the middle of my back. (I chopped it to shoulder-length prior to testing, though.) Having a quality hair tie—one that comfortably and effectively holds my hair back all day and night—has always been a necessity for me. Over the years, I’ve tried dozens upon dozens of hair ties, but never quite landed on the one, so it seemed high time to hone in on the best hair ties, especially now that options extend well beyond your standard fabric-covered elastic to include coils, ribbons, and scrunchies.
We scoured best-seller lists across retailers, beauty blogs, social media, and other best-of lists to find the top-reviewed hair ties for our comparison. Then, we put each one to the test both day and night, pitting the brands against one another to find a winner.
Unlike most other beauty products, what makes a good hair tie is rather objective. Though hair types vary and what works for fine hair may not be quite right for thicker strands, we all want the same thing: an accessory that will keep hair up and out of the face without discomfort. One that looks good—or even not noticeable, if you prefer—at the same time? Well, that’s a definite bonus.
Our tests were rather straightforward: I wore the hair ties a variety of ways, like with my hair fully or halfway up, throughout the course of the day. (For the former, this meant a ponytail just above the base of the neck so I could pull all of my shoulder-length hair into it.) I also made sure to do some light activities—like housework or a walk around the block—throughout the day to test grip strength. Then, I used each one to secure my mane overnight, also in a low ponytail at the nape of my neck. Additionally, I evaluated the hair ties for comfort and aesthetics. When I finished testing, I teamed up with Reviewed’s team of scientists to score and weigh the results on a scientifically calibrated rubric.
During the process, I answered questions regarding:
Ease of Use: How simple is it to loop around hair? Does it slide out without any snags?
Effectiveness: Does the hair tie hold hair back all day and all night? Does any hair fall out during everyday activity, light exercise, or sleep? How much does the hair tie stretch out and/or lose its shape after repeated use?
Comfort: How does the hair tie feel throughout the day? Does it grip hair so tightly that it tugs at the scalp, or does it hold securely without pain? What about overnight? Does the tie fit comfortably around your wrist?
Aesthetics: Is the hair tie attractive? Does it look like it’s well made? Does it come in a variety of colors or styles?
When I ran the results through the scoring rubric, I was surprised: A single type of hair tie wasn’t superior to all the rest. Instead, the scoring showed that the best hair ties crossed the spectrum and there were clear winners in each category we tested.
What You Should Know About Hair Ties
When it comes to hair ties, there are a few things you should know that may influence your purchasing decision:
Style: You can get a standard hair elastic or a fabric scrunchie, but there are also the newer-comers to the ponytail game, ribbons and coils. While you may think one would perform better than another, our tests show you can find a quality hair tie, no matter which type you prefer. For the most part, you can let the look you want or the type you prefer guide your choice and still find a comfortable, durable option.
Cost: Our tests show you don’t need to splurge on a hair tie to get a quality product. One of the highest-ranking sets on this list actually breaks down to just 8 cents per hair tie. Our favorite scrunchies come at a higher price than that, but they were still not the most expensive ones we tested. (Plus, scrunchies theoretically cost more to produce, as there’s more material and more goes into the construction.) The takeaway is that quality and price do not go hand in hand for this category.
Hair damage: You may notice more or less damage with certain hair ties. For example, scrunchies may cause less breakage because of their thick layer of fabric. Hair elastics, on the other hand, may dig into your ponytail more and you may find strands of your hair wrapped around the band. Stretchy ribbon bands and coils likely fall somewhere in the middle, but if the material they’re made of snags at your hair, that may cause damage in and of itself. The damage a hair tie inflicts may also vary depending on the breakage your hair already sustained. It may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for your hair type and routine.
Other Hair Ties We Tested
L. Erickson Grab & Go Ponytail Holders
The L. Erickson Grab & Go Pony Tube has a unique braided design that’s secured with a plastic oval bead. According to the company, the soft woven material is designed to be super comfortable and non-damaging to your strands.
As promised, the elastic is very soft to the touch and slips in and out of hair with ease. No hair got caught in any of the woven material or around the decorative bead holding the tie together. It also looks attractive (each comes in five colors and has 15 hair ties total) and wears comfortably on the wrist, so you’ll always have a hair tie at the ready.
The material stretched three times around my hair to provide a very snug hold, but this causes it to tug at the scalp. It was much more comfortable with two wraps, but that didn’t feel tight enough for light activity. To avoid discomfort, I’d only wear this if I needed to tie my hair back while eating, working on the computer, or watching TV, when a looser grip suffices.
Even if the fit was perfect, I have some concern about the longevity of these hair ties because the material began to snag and look fuzzy after just a few wears.
Per piece, these skinny silk scrunchies were the most expensive hair ties we tested by nearly $2 per tie (our lowest cost only 8 cents).
So what’s so special about this product? Slip—which also makes the mega-popular silk pillowcases—says the hair tie is designed to “reduce those annoying ridges caused by regular hair elastics.” In my experience, it delivers on that promise. I didn’t notice any creases even when I tied my hair back shortly after running a flat iron through it. And even though the hair tie feels flimsy because it’s made of silk, it still holds my strands back surprisingly well with three easy wraps.
Despite the functionality and the elegant look, the price of this scrunchie is tough to justify. Other, more affordable hair ties on the list also gripped the hair just well (if not better) without creasing, and come in packages with more style options. These are a luxury item that I’d be more likely to buy as a gift for someone—they're made of real silk, after all—than as my everyday hair ties, which have a propensity to get lost.
If function is your main goal, this Kitsch scrunchie isn’t the hair tie for you. To hold my hair well, I had to stretch the thick band to its max of three twists to hold my low pony securely. While this is great for all-day hold, it’s not so great for comfort if you’re resting your head, whether it be on the seat of your car while running errands or on your pillow, while sleeping. And while it looks nice around a ponytail or at the base of a French braid, it’s too obtrusive and chunky for half-up styles.
Though I can’t say the same for my hair, the soft, satin scrunchie sits comfortably on my wrist and even looks attractive there. Plus, thanks to its larger-than-most size, it’s easy to dig out of your purse or drawer in a flash.
My final verdict is that this scrunchie is more of a hair accessory than a functional hair tie you might rely on to hold your hair back for any activity, from housework to exercise to sleeping.
This classic fabric-covered hair elastic from Scunci promises to offer a medium hold without damaging hair. Instead of a metal clip, the ends of the band are fused together. The company says the ties “don't snag or break strands or leave unsightly bumps.” While I found this to be mostly true—they glide in and out of hair with ease—they left creases in my hair. And the super snug hold creates a firm spot at the top of the ponytail, making it uncomfortable to wear while you sleep or for long periods of time. These elastics are tight on the wrist as well, readily leaving a painful indentation.
Despite those disappointments, these elastics are a fine standby. They come in six colors—neutrals like black and brown and brighter shades like coral and teal—and hold hair well all day. I had no trouble with slippage, no matter the hairstyle I chose.
All packs of ribbon hair ties look similar, but it was clear to me that not all are created equal after I started testing. These Kenz ribbon ties aren’t nearly as well constructed as our overall ribbon pick. The material isn’t as stretchy and the knots aren’t as solid, so the tie loosens and stretches out almost immediately, affecting the hold. I wasn't able to stretch it to a fourth turn around the hair, but three turns wasn’t solid enough to rely on for holding a ponytail during any real activity. In tests, the tie loosened after a short walk around the block and slipped out of my hair completely overnight.
The package comes with an enviable variety of models—more than 40 colors and patterns. You’d likely go through all of them, too, because of how quickly they stretch out.
There was less than a half-point difference in the scores of the Invisibobble and our overall pick for coil hair ties. Like the Kitsch coils, the Invisibobble provides a solid grip with just two turns around the hair.
Unfortunately, it also had most of the same drawbacks: the product stretched out easily, snagged my hair during removal, and was too tight to wear comfortably on my wrist.
Because the Invisibobble is firmer than the Kitsch, it had the added inconvenience of being more uncomfortable overnight. And though it didn’t lose points for this, there aren’t as many color options in each package. My advice: Go with Kitsch.
I love the look of the Teleties. The coil is much slimmer than other coils I’ve seen, and it comes in a fun, bright pink color. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite hold its own against the competition, mostly for the same reasons I didn’t love the other coil hair ties.
Though slimmer, this coil model was also too tight on my wrist and snagged my hair upon removal just as much as its counterparts. Its hold wasn’t nearly as good as the larger coils, either. With two turns around my ponytail, the hair tie stayed largely in place throughout the day, but it completely fell out of my hair overnight.
Overall, this Syleia ribbon hair tie was the most comfortable product to wear on my wrist. It had that perfect Goldilocks fit—not tight, but not at all loose enough to shift. You can’t beat the variety in the package, either. The set includes 100 hair ties in 10 different colors.
I wish I could praise its primary function of holding hair back in the same way, but the product fell short in those tests. Though the fabric is very comfortable, it isn’t as stretchy as our overall pick, which limits the flexibility you have for getting the right tension for your hair. I could only wrap the hair tie around my ponytail twice, but I needed a third wrap to get a strong enough hold. Thus, the hair tie started to slip and needed to be adjusted after some light housework (in my case, cleaning up the kids’ playroom).
The Gimmie Band is one of the more unique hair ties I’ve ever seen. The wide band is made out of a stretchy woven material that rolls back on itself to create what looks like a very substantial band that you'd think wouldn’t stretch much. Surprisingly, the material readily expands to more than double its diameter to loop around for a snug hold on a ponytail.
While this may be a good thing—the band doesn’t budge throughout everyday wear—I didn’t like it, because it tugged at my hair during my 30-minute workout, indicating that prolonged wear would be uncomfortable. Plus, the big band caused a bump that made the hair tie impossible to wear overnight—it felt like a rock underneath my head! I took it out, because I couldn’t get comfortable on the pillow with such a stiff and bulky ponytail. It was also too tight on my wrist.
Brigitt Earley is a freelance writer and editor based in NJ. Her work has appeared in a number of lifestyle publications, including Real Simple and Apartment Therapy. She’s a new mom, runs an Instagram account full of the most delicious food she can find, and loves to hate a good barre class.
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