Asian man in a white shirt styling his hair in front of a mirror.

In the world of men’s grooming, hairstyles come and go, but one classic look that has stood the test of time is the slicked-back hair. In Hollywood, everyone from Al Pacino to Brad Pitt has rocked the style on red-carpet events, since it’s the quickest way to look stylish and put-together in any outfit. Some may even wear it daily to look sleek and confident at the office, piling on styling gels and combing strands into place. But did you know that doing so can have an impact on your hair?

What Is Tension Hair Loss?

Tension hair loss, also called , develops with the frequent pulling and styling of strands. Slicked-back hair, while not a hairstyle that directly causes hair loss, involves slight pulling every time you brush it back with products. It’s worse if your style also involves a man bun. This kind of hair loss is different from male pattern baldness, which is the most common type in men. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the first signs of tension hair loss are broken hairs around the or thinning hair in the area. If you’re seeing these, it’s time to change your hairstyle to prevent further damage to your hair and follicles.

What You Can Do About It

Some simple lifestyle changes and tweaks in your haircare routine can also help. Talk to a dermatologist about treatments to address thinning hair and practice the following.

Let your hair be.

Styling your hair the same way daily is like sitting on the same spot on a couch – you’re bound to make a dent there somewhere. If you suspect that your slicked-back hair is causing thinning, switch to a trendy middle part or get a haircut that doesn’t require a part, like a . Brushing from back to front instead of front to back can give the illusion of volume and keep your strands from getting flat.

Avoid heavy styling products.

Styling products like , pomades, and waxes are not the enemy. When used properly, they can give you and your hair that much-needed boost. However, using ones with harmful ingredients or formulas that don’t suit your hair type can harm your hair and scalp.

For example, gels containing alcohol can dry out the scalp and cause brittleness to your strands. Heavy pomades can cause buildup that clogs the scalp and leads to inflammation that, if left untreated, can lead to hair loss. Easing up on the products can be refreshing on your hair and scalp.

Strengthen your strands.

Using a scalp brush, give yourself a scalp massage to stimulate blood flow to your hair follicles. First, shampoo your hair with Dove Men+Care Strengthening Shampoo, a fortifying formula with caffeine and calcium that help thicken and strengthen your strands from root to tip. Next, run the scalp brush through your lathered hair and across the scalp, using small, circular motions. Massage for no more than a minute, then rinse.

During the day, protect your hair and scalp from damage by wearing a hat when under the sun. If you go to the gym, immediately after a workout to remove sweat and oil.

Slicked-back hair does not cause hair loss but overdoing it may lead to breakage and hair thinning. If this is your go-to hairstyle, don’t worry, you don’t have to abandon it forever. You can revisit it on special occasions and simply style your hair differently (or not at all) on regular days.