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How do I Stop Hair Twirling?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hair twirling is a bad habit that can become a compulsion; when it becomes excessive or involves pulling on the hair, it is known as trichotillomania. It is important to take steps to stop hair twirling, both to end the bad habit and to prevent it from becoming a compulsion. One of the best ways to break this habit is to take note of every time you do it, to see if you can determine the root cause. For example, many people twirl their hair when they are bored or stressed.

To stop hair twirling, try to take note of the times you do it for at least a day. If you find it difficult to notice, ask family members or friends to tell you if they see you twirling your hair. Some people find it helpful to write down the instances when they are twirling the hair; this can help a pattern to emerge, which can then help you to stop.

Another way to stop hair twirling is to attempt to remove the temptation by pulling the hair back into a bun, or clipping the hair away from the face. Some people find they will just pull a small piece out and twirl it anyway, however. In this case, another way to break this habit is to keep a small rubber band or hair tie on the wrist, and snap it and say "Stop!" to yourself whenever you start to twirl the hair. This can serve as a reminder that you are trying to break the habit, and you might begin to associate the pain from snapping the rubber band with twirling the hair.

You might also try to occupy the fingers with something else, such as twirling a pencil, for example. This can turn into another bad habit, though, so if you determine that your hair twirling habit is caused by boredom, try to find something to occupy your mind. Read a book, take a walk outside, play a video game, or exercise, for instance; all of these can help to alleviate your boredom. In addition, all of these activities can help to relieve stress; often, bad habits like hair twirling are caused by stress.

If the hair twirling becomes a compulsion or is impossible to stop, it might be necessary to visit a therapist. A therapist can provide other techniques to help you stop hair twirling, or a doctor may be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medication. It is important to stop this bad habit as soon as possible, because it can lead to hair loss and breakage, as well as make you look immature and undisciplined.

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Discussion Comments
By anon233329 — On Dec 05, 2011

I'm 17 and I have been twirling my hair forever.

And so my aunt did before she died. And my cousin still does it. Could it be a family thing?

By anon175346 — On May 12, 2011

I have twirled my hair for as long as I can remember. Now that I'm 26 I want to stop. I have been told it doesn't look professional. I have co-workers who get on me all the time, my old boss, my grandmother, and my father. Sometimes I don't even realize I am twirling my hair until my hand cramps up. But the more i focus on stopping, the more I see myself going towards my hair. So I feel like I think about it more.

Putting my hair in a ponytail doesn't help because then I'll just twirl the ponytail or take my bangs out and twirl them. I'll even be driving and the next thing i know i stopped on a radio station with just static and start twirling. So if anyone could help, that would be amazing. Thanks

By vogueknit17 — On May 09, 2011

I used to both twirl my hair and bite my nails at times. Then, awhile ago, I took up knitting.

Now, though, the problem is that when I am somewhere where I didn't bring my knitting, I get anxious all over again in a different way. It really does not solve the problem, it just creates a different one.

And while I think knitting it really productive, it may at times be just as annoying to people around me as biting my nails would be.

By DentalFloss — On May 07, 2011

I think many of us have become obsessed with stopping our little habits like hair twirling. Most people who do this do not have a compulsion, or do it enough to cause hair damage.

While it could be annoying to others, so are things like biting nails, tapping feet, cracking gum, or any number of things. If you really do want to stop, it is worth a try, but I think we all will find something to do to occupy our hands when we're bored, and it it is not hair twirling it will just be something else.

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