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A hair tie, whether on your wrist or in your mane, is as essential as your lip balm or wallet. And its performance is tested in all kinds of situations. (Hi, 6 a.m. hot yoga.) But how do you know that the elastic you’ve chosen is the best and not just some glorified rubber band posing as a beauty accessory? We put 26 different hair ties (ranging from $3 to $39) to the test, then ranked them from worst to fabulous. And let’s just say we’ll never be caught with loose strands mid-tree pose again.

Best Hair Tie Testing PureWow 20191

The Testing Criteria

We evaluated each hair tie on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great) based on the following:

Wristability. Does the hair tie leave an indentation on your wrist when left there all day? Does it pinch or hurt or itch? Or do you barely notice it’s there?

Pullage. When you remove it, how much hair comes with it? Does it hurt when you take it out?

Loose Strands. After wearing the hair tie from 9 to 5, how much hair has fallen out of the elastic?

Head Pain. After a few hours, does the hair tie pinch or feel tight? Do you notice any tension spots?

Crease. When you finally take it out, is there an indentation?

The Methodology

To identify the 26 ponytail holders for review, we reached out to reputable brands and personal favorites, as well as outlier companies with cult followings (hello, Invisibobble). We also included several hair ties known for distinctive detail or design (we’re talking to you, Bungee Band).

Once we had our candidates, we distributed them to editors with a variety of hair types (fine, curly, thick, natural), covering up the brand name to remove bias. Our editors wore each tie for one full day, and to everything from a workout to a cross-country flight. From there, they logged their feedback using the scale above.

The overall score is a reflection of how each hair tie performed, which we calculated by averaging across the five categories. If a tiebreaker was required, we looked at the loose-strands rating, since we felt this factor was the most important.

The Results (From Terrible to Amazing)

Soft n Style Bungee Band1

26. Soft ’n Style Bungee Band ($6 for 6)

Overall Score: 2.3/5

Wristability: 1
Pullage: 1.3
Loose Strands: 2.7
Head Pain: 3.7
Crease: 2.3

This hair tie—er, bungee cord—is probably best left on the mountaintop (or the checkout line at Claire’s). “It’s just not functional,” one of our editors said. “I love wearing hair ties around my wrist and this one was impossible, thanks to the hooks.” Another added: “It’s just too hard. The little hooks require so much skill. Even after a few tries, I couldn’t get it right.”

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ElasticU Polybands1

25. ElasticU Polybands ($7 for 70)

Overall Score: 2.6/5

Wristability: 1.3
Pullage: 2
Loose Strands: 3.3
Head Pain: 4
Crease: 3.5

This little guy earned style points for invisibility, but unless you have baby-fine hair, it basically rips out all your strands upon removal, according to our testers. “This would be great for braids or half-up styles, but it’s too small for most hair types, sadly.”

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Scunci No Slip Grip Evolution Ponytails1

24. Scunci No-Slip Grip Evolution Ponytails ($3.50 for 14)

Overall Score: 2.6/5

Wristability: 1
Pullage: 1.6
Loose Strands: 3.6
Head Pain: 3.3
Crease: 3.6

This ponytail holder did OK at keeping hair in place, but our testers complained about the lack of comfort. “The material was painful on the wrist, but also uncomfortable in my hair,” said one. Another added: “It pulled out so much hair when I removed it. Ouch!”

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Scunci No Damage Soft Hosiery Elastics

23. Scunci No-Damage Soft Hosiery Elastics ($20 for 3)

Overall Score: 2.8/5

Wristability: 3
Pullage: 3.5
Loose Strands: 3
Head Pain: 3.5
Crease: 4.5

As far as this hybrid hair tie/headband goes, praise was faint: “It’s honestly more of a headband than a hair tie. It does not keep your hair up at all and sits on your wrist like a bunched-up pair of tights.”

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Burlybands Ultimate Hair Ties1

22. Burlybands Ultimate Hair Ties ($11 for 3)

Overall Score: 2.8/5

Wristability: 2
Pullage: 4
Loose Strands: 4
Head Pain: 2
Crease: 2

Our testers with thicker hair loved this tie. “It kept my hair in place at the top of my head without needing to re-tighten it throughout the day,” one editor said. Still, others found it too strong. “The elastic was so thick, I actually couldn’t wrap it around my ponytail enough times.” It also got marked down for wristability: “It kinda ruined my outfit.” 

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Kim Kimble Beauty Silk Elastic Hair Ties 1

21. Kim Kimble Beauty Silk Elastic Hair Ties ($8.50 for 6)

Overall Score: 2.8/5

Wristability: 1
Pullage: 2.5
Loose Strands: 4.2
Head Pain: 4.5
Crease: 2.5

The Kim Kimble worked well for one editor who wore it to a workout: “It’s black, basic and seems like it would hold up after many uses.” But another remarked that it pulled her hair and was uncomfortable on the wrist. “I think it’s OK, but might be better for someone with thicker hair.”

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Rubberized Coil Hair Tie Set 1

20. Rubberized Coil Hair Tie Set ($12 for 8)

Overall Score: 2.9/5

Wristability: 2
Pullage: 2.5
Loose Strands: 3.5
Head Pain: 4
Crease: 2.5

The best part about this elastic was the no-slip grip, according to our testers. But that didn’t bode well for wristability. “It feels good in your hair—secure, but not too tight,” said one. “That said, it was really painful on my wrist.”

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Bow Hair Tie Set1

19. Bow Hair Tie Set ($12 for 4)

Overall Score: 3/5

Wristability: 3
Pullage: 3.5
Loose Strands: 3
Head Pain: 3
Crease: 2.5

The results were unanimous: Our editors loved the aesthetic of this pretty little bow. “It’s super cute—could almost double as jewelry,” said one. Another added: “You could use it to wrap a small present.” But did it actually work? “It was functional, but left a slight crease,” one editor with medium-bodied hair remarked.

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Invisibobble1

18. Invisibobble Power Traceless Hair Ring ($8 for 3)

Overall Score: 3/5

Wristability: 2.5
Pullage: 2.5
Loose Strands: 4
Head Pain: 4.5
Crease: 2.5

“Strands can’t escape this hair tie!” one editor with fine, long hair said about this coil-like elastic. Another liked the funky, retro telephone-cord vibe—especially in a clear hue—but noted it was “difficult to tighten without stretching out.”

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Kitsch Perfect Ponytail Holder1

17. Kitsch Perfect Ponytail Holder ($10 for 8)

Overall Score: 3.1/5

Wristability: 1.5
Pullage: 3.5
Loose Strands: 4.8
Head Pain: 2.8
Crease: 2.8

The Kitsch’s durability is unparalleled—especially for exercise—agreed our testers. “For heavy-duty things, like a dance recital or playing sports, this is a must-have,” said one. “But it’s not comfortable for everyday wear. I’d define this as an industry-strength hair tie. It’s strong as hell, and the textured surface also helps create a grip on hair. This baby does not slide around.” That said, it got dinged for appearance: “The metal clasp isn’t the best and impacts its wristability.”

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Sephora Collection Bob and Weave Set1

16. Sephora Collection Bob and Weave Set ($12 for 8)

Overall Score: 3.5/5

Wristability: 2.6
Pullage: 3.3
Loose Strands: 4
Head Pain: 4.6
Crease: 3

This hair tie got high praise for looks (one editor commented on the band’s sheen saying, “It’s great if you’re a sparkle-and-glam kind of gal”), but fell short when it came to wear and tear. One editor said, “I got the feeling it wouldn’t last very long.”

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Ouai Condom Hair Ties 1

15. Ouai Condom Hair Ties ($6 for 3)

Overall Score: 3.3/5

Wristability: 3
Pullage: 4
Loose Strands: 3.7
Head Pain: 3
Crease: 2.7

The editors agreed that the the Ouai gets the job done, but overall found something lacking. “It would be good for someone with really thick hair because they could just wrap it around once and be done with it, but for women with a more average hair texture, it’s not ideal,” one editor explained.

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Anthropologie Mini Coiled Hair Tie Set1

14. Anthropologie Mini-Coiled Hair Tie Set ($12 for 8)

Overall Score: 3.5/5

Wristability: 3
Pullage: 2.6
Loose Strands: 3.3
Head Pain: 4.3
Crease: 2.6

While a couple of our fine-haired testers were underwhelmed, one editor—with a thicker mane—loved this guy’s ability to keep every strand in place: “The coils help keep everything up while you’re working out or have your hair up in a bun,” she said. A common complaint: “It gets tangly and stretched out upon removal.”

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Goody Ouchless Forever Elastics 1

13. Goody Ouchless Forever Elastics ($13 for 3)

Overall Score: 3.6/5

Wristability: 3.3
Pullage: 3.8
Loose Strands: 4.3
Head Pain: 3.8
Crease: 3

No big complaints about this drugstore staple, but our editors also found it to be solidly middle-of-the-road. “It was decent,” said one. “It’s a good, ‘I need to wash my face and I just took out my contacts and reached around and grabbed this tie’ kinda tie,” another added. “It’s great for wristability and didn’t move at all when I wore it to a high-impact workout,” said another.

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Kenz Laurenz Hair Tie Ponytail Holders 1

12. Kenz Laurenz Hair Tie Ponytail Holders ($8 for 20)

Overall Score: 3.7/5

Wristability: 3.3
Pullage: 3.3
Loose Strands: 4
Head Pain: 4
Crease: 3.7

The general consensus was that the Kenz Laurenz was particularly good for half-up styles, but couldn’t keep a full pony in place all day: “The weight of my hair caused it to sag. Also, because it is so thin, it feels like the material would get worn and stretched out quickly.” Still, our editors loved how it felt. “It’s pretty comfortable, even with long-term use,” said one. Another added: “It didn’t leave a single crease.”

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Snappee Hair Ties by Swirly Curly1

11. Snappee Hair Ties by Swirly Curly ($20 for 3)

Overall Score: 3.8/5

Wristability: 4
Pullage: 5
Loose Strands: 2
Head Pain: 5
Crease: 3

There was definitely a confusion factor here: “I wasn’t sure how to utilize the snap feature right out of the gate,” said one editor. “Once I figured it out, though, I found this to be a great option for pulling your hair back in a low pony without getting a crease.” It fell short, however, on the sturdiness and durability scale: “It fell out during a workout,” one person confessed.

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Kitsch Blush Bow Hair Ties1

10. Kitsch Blush Bow Hair Ties ($12 for 5)

Overall Score: 4/5

Wristability: 4.7
Pullage: 4
Loose Strands: 3.7
Head Pain: 4.7
Crease: 3

Our testers loved the way this elastic looked on their wrist, although some struggled to position it correctly: “The bow is a bit of a pain,” said one. “You can’t just throw your hair up because you’re worried about how it’s positioned.” One tester also mentioned that this tie, while cute, did leave a dent.

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Ann Taylor Bow Elastic Hair Tie Set1

9. Ann Taylor Bow Elastic Hair Tie Set ($14.50 for 3)

Overall Score: 4/5

Wristability: 3.7
Pullage: 4.7
Loose Strands: 4.3
Head Pain: 4.3
Crease: 3

And…another adorable and beloved bow. (The distinction is that this one has a three-inch diameter, making it a bit oversize.) “It adds a little something extra without being overwhelming or kid-like.” Another tester did add: “This elastic is a bit big, so you have to wrap it around your pony a bunch of times. But it held my hair in place and maintained its shape. What more can you ask for?”

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TIY Hair Tie Pro System1

8. TIY Hair Tie Pro System ($12.50 for 4 to 6)

Overall Score: 4/5

Wristability: 4.5
Pullage: 4.5
Loose Strands: 5
Head Pain: 3.5
Crease: 2.5

This customizable system (the tie itself comes on a spool that you can cut to size) was a favorite for editors who struggle to find the perfect fit. “The adjustable sizing is a game changer, especially for working out or if you need something strong.” The only complaint was related to the sloppiness factor: “It’s tricky to master, so the finished result can look unkempt.”

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L. Erickson Grab n Go Ponytail Holder 1

7. L. Erickson Grab & Go Ponytail Holder ($17 for 15)

Overall Score: 4/5

Wristability: 3.7
Pullage: 4.7
Loose Strands: 4.7
Head Pain: 4.7
Crease: 2.7

Across the board, our editors loved this workhorse option: “It’s just so comfortable,” one said. “I only wrapped it in my ponytail three times, and it felt totally secure. It didn’t loosen throughout the day, either.” As for criticism: “It’s a chunky on the wrist.” Still, “it didn’t leave any indentations or pinch.”

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Kooshoo Organic Plastic Free Hair Tie1

6. Kooshoo Organic Plastic-Free Hair Tie ($15 for 5)

Overall Score: 4.2/5

Wristability: 4
Pullage: 5
Loose Strands: 4.5
Head Pain: 5
Crease: 2.5

Our testers were pleasantly surprised by the performance of this eco-friendly hair tie. “I thought that it wouldn’t give me a secure ponytail because the material didn’t seem stretchy, but I was wrong,” one said. “Normally, I need to wrap my ponytails three or four times to make sure they stay tight and secure. With this, I only needed to wrap it around my hair twice and everything stayed in place.”

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Lululemon Glow On Hair Ties1

5. Lululemon Glow-On Hair Ties ($14 for 3)

Overall Score: 4.3/5

Wristability: 4
Pullage: 4.5
Loose Strands: 4.5
Head Pain: 5
Crease: 3.5

Designed for runners, these hair ties were a favorite amongst our testers. The pros: They are great for running (their intent) and worked really well for thick hair. The con: awkward sizing. “I just couldn’t seem to figure out how many times to wrap it around my ponytail. Once around was too loose, twice felt a little too tight. Most elastics solve for this because they’re really elastic, but this one didn’t have much give.” 

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Scunci Effortless Beauty Mini Slinky Black Twisters1

4. Scunci Effortless Beauty Mini-Slinky Black Twisters ($5 for 6)

Overall Score: 4.4/5

Wristability: 3.8
Pullage: 5
Loose Strands: 4.3
Head Pain: 5
Crease: 3.8

This hybrid scrunchie/hair tie was an editor favorite. One of our fine-haired testers remarked: “It really caught all the hairs and kept them in place. I was impressed.” Another added: “I loved how soft it was—I felt like I was doing something nice for my hair when I had this in.” One more selling point: “It looks as cute on my wrist as it does in my hair—and it gives me ‘90s nostalgia, too.”

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Cyndibands Blonde Gentle Hold Seamless Ties

3. Cyndibands Blonde Gentle Hold Seamless Ties ($5 for 12)

Overall Score: 4.6/5

Wristability: 5
Pullage: 5
Loose Strands: 3
Head Pain: 5
Crease: 5

We unanimously loved that this hair tie felt sophisticated on the wrist and in the hair. While one tester mentioned that it didn’t have as much hold for her thin and curly mane, she appreciated that it didn’t leave a crease after long-term wear. “This hair tie would be perfect for preserving a blowout while you sleep.”

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Scunci Rolled Edge Elastics1

2. Scunci Rolled Edge Elastics ($4 for 6)

Overall Score: 4.6/5

Wristability: 5
Pullage: 5
Loose Strands: 5
Head Pain: 4.3
Crease: 3.3

This top performer was beloved by all. Raved one tester: “My hair is fine, but I have a lot of it and this hair tie kept my ponytail firmly in place, even during a workout. But it wasn’t so tight that it gave me a headache.” Another had this to say: “I loved how stretchy the material is—almost like pantyhose—but it didn’t get disfigured after repeated use. I feel like it will last a long time.” The only ding was for the aesthetic: “It’s not the prettiest or cutest, but it’s also not the ugliest. It’s better for straight-up utility.”

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Silke London Silk Hair Tie Set1

1. Silke London Silk Hair Tie Set ($39 for 6)

Overall Score: 4.8/5

Wristability: 5
Pullage: 5
Loose Strands: 5
Head Pain: 5
Crease: 4

Drumroll, please...the hair tie developed by a British hairstylist on a mission (“to end bed head”) won the highest marks in our testing. One editor said: “It held my hair in place without hurting my head or strands. It also gave my pony a slight lift, which I loved.” The only criticism was the color palette. (But, FYI, we tested a variety pack of bright hues. You can find this style in more neutral shades, including black, online.)

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Additional reporting by Alexandra Hough.

RELATED: Retro Hair Accessories Are Trending. Here’s How to Wear Them in 2019

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