Hair Twirling: Is It Really More Than Just A Bad Habit?

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It’s safe to assume that most of us have at least one small, annoying habit (guilty).

For some it might be nail biting, foot tapping or knuckle cracking. For me, it’s twirling my hair.

There are several causes of hair twirling. These can range anywhere from stress and anxiety, to sources of comfort and self-soothing if the habit was developed from an early age, and even flirtations and physical attraction.


Personally, my hair twirling habit is stress induced.

When I’m feeling stressed, nervous or anxious, I find myself reaching for my hair as a source of comfort and distraction; if I keep my hands occupied, it helps me focus my mind or think of other things.

However, while this simple, pesky little habit seems harmless enough, it can have serious and damaging effects, both psychologically and on the hair itself.

Research shows that a dependence or unhealthy reliance on hair twirling has a risk of escalating into what is known as trichotillomania, or hair pulling. This compulsive hair pulling has links to both depression and anxiety, where the pain of pulling out your hair acts as a form of relief.

Effects can also lead to damaging the hair itself, where repeated and constant twirling and pulling of the hair leads to frizzier hairs regrowing. In other cases where the hair pulling has been longer term and more severe, this kind of damage to the hair follicles can prevent regrowth.

Now at first read this can all seem pretty terrifying, but it is important that we reflect on ourselves and our bad habits. Certainly after writing this I’ll be more conscious of my hair twirling than ever!

Maybe think about your own compulsions in your own day to day life- where do they come from? How reliant on them are you? Or are they simply harmless?