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Why Hair Rubber Bands Break (+ Which Types Last Longer)

rubber bands in front of a purple decorative background

Some rubber bands are made with a cheaper, thinner elastic, which may be the reason they keep breaking. Some people will use two, three (or more) rubber bands on top of each other to make them stronger. But, the bands may still end up breaking -- it just takes a little longer.

When looking for rubber bands, you want to make sure they are thick, soft and made with a natural high-quality rubber. Below are the four types of rubber mainly used for hair...

  • Thermoplastic Polyurethanes (TPU)

  • Silicone

  • Polyurethane

  • Natural Rubber

Which Rubber Bands Are Bad For Braids?

Synthetic rubber bands aren't the best for braids. TPU and silicone have the qualities of rubber and plastic. They look shiny, are typically thin and break easily. Polyurethane rubber has a more gummy texture. It too looks shiny and is supposed to last longer. All three are synthetic rubbers and are best for short-term styles.

What Are The Best Rubber Bands For Braids?

Natural rubber (made from the sap of a rubber tree) is the best option for beads and braids in my personal opinion. They blend better with hair and are sturdy enough to hold the added weight. Just remember they are meant for one-time use only. Meaning, if you reuse the same band after it's been worn and weakened -- it may pop.

Does Rubber Band Size Matter?

Yes! If you're using a natural high quality material and your rubber bands are still breaking, you can try bigger rubber bands. There are 1" rubber bands, which are great for bigger braids and thicker hair. And there are ½" bands which are better for small to medium size braids and thinner hair. The ½" are more popular and are probably the ones you will find at your local beauty store. But depending on the style you are trying to achieve, they may not be big enough for the style you want. If you're not sure which size you need, try an assorted pack, because it has both.

rubber band size chart

Will Tight Rubber Bands Pop?

Yes! If you feel your rubber bands are too tight, try loosening them. Not too loose that they won't hold your style. But loose enough that they are not under too much stress. You can do this by putting the rubber bands in, then taking out one loop, so that they are a little looser than how you usually install them. Another idea is to count how many times you pass the hair through the rubber band, and doing one less time.

The whole purpose of elastic materials are that they should be able to stretch. Some rubber bands are able to stretch twice their size. For example, a ½ inch rubber band should be able to stretch to 1 inch. But anything put under too much pressure will eventually break. They may not pop as soon as you put them in. But any indirect friction, like wearing a hood, dancing, or moving your head too fast could be that last straw that causes the band to break.

What Is The Difference Between A Rubber Band and A Polyband?

Polybands are made from polyurethane (a synthetic elastic) and rubber bands are made from a natural tree rubber.

Can You Use Orthodontic Elastics In Your Hair?

Yes! Some prefer using rubber bands meant for braces in their hair. At 1/4" diameter, they are super tiny and have a mighty hold. They are especially good for thin hair, facial hair, and the ends of braids or locs. Just know they typically aren't black, so they may not blend well with dark hair. If you want to try dental rubber bands in your hair, make sure they have latex. Latex-free rubber bands are geared towards people with latex allergies, but they also tend to break more easily.

Which Oil Breaks Rubber Bands?

Oil allegedly makes rubber age quicker. This means the oil causes rubber to break down over time. However, it's crucial to lubricate the hair with an oil or conditioner before applying rubber bands so that they do not damage or pull out the hair. If you need to reapply oil to the scalp, try to use tiny amounts and to avoid getting too much oil on the rubber bands.

Does The Sun Break Rubber Bands?

Ultraviolet (UV) rays can weaken the elastics, depending on how close and how long rubber bands are in the sun. But please do not let this discourage you. In our experience -- a high quality rubber band (that's thick and strong) will last throughout the summer months.

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