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Why do Some Girls Constantly Twirl Their Hair?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many reasons girls may twirl their hair. Often, it is just a habit that is hard to break. Some girls do it when they feel nervous, while others do when they are being flirtatious. In some cases, however, hair twirling can be a sign of a mental health condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or depression.

Habits can start at a very young age, and hair twirling is a common habit. Often, it begins when a girl is just a toddler and may develop into hair pulling as she grows older. Many girls aren’t aware that they twirl their hair because the habit becomes so ingrained. In most cases, girls grow out of this habit. If they don’t, they may consider seeing a therapist for behavior modification therapy.

Some girls don’t twirl their hair all the time, but seem to do it when they feel nervous or anxious about something. For example, a girl may twirl her hair when she’s meeting someone for the first time, giving an oral report, studying for a test, or worrying about something. This is similar to actions other people may display in such situations, such as foot or finger tapping, pacing, leg shaking, forehead rubbing, and hand wringing. If a person does not grow out of this on her own and it seems particularly problematic, behavior modification may help.

As girls grow into adolescence and begin to like boys and date, hair twirling may become a conscious act. In such cases, it may be done in a flirtatious manner, and it is similar to eye batting, hair flipping, coy smiles, and other flirtatious body language.

Sometimes, hair twirling can be a symptom of clinical depression or abnormal levels of anxiety. In such a case, the girl may benefit from the help of a psychology professional. Therapy may help her to work through issues that contribute to her psychological problems. In some cases, medications may be prescribed to treat these conditions as well. When treatments are successful, the twirling may stop.

Less often, hair twirling may occur as a symptom of OCD. OCD is a condition marked by anxiety, obsessive ideas and thoughts, and repetitive actions. People with this disorder do not want or like their obsessive thoughts or repetitive behaviors, but they simply cannot stop on their own. Medication and behavioral therapy may be used to treat OCD, ending the related repetitive actions.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon926602 — On Jan 19, 2014

I am 64 years old and have been twiddling my hair as long as I can remember. I do it unconsciously and the only time I don't is when I am sleeping or using both hands. I don't think it's OCD. It is calming for me and a habit I'll always have. It doesn't bother me though, and it shouldn't bother anyone else.

By anon926379 — On Jan 18, 2014

I have been twisting my hair for years now and cannot stop, no matter what! It's becoming really embarrassing. I am 30 years old now and a middle school teacher, and my students have even noticed. I braid the hair behind my ears, usually on the left side. It gets worse if I am stressed or have a lot running through my mind. I am wondering if I should seek therapy or acupuncture to help. Does anyone else have this problem? What did they do to stop?

By anon346505 — On Aug 29, 2013

I like twirling my hair. It makes me feel relaxed and sometimes it helps me to fall asleep fast. It might sound funny but it's true. Whenever I want to fall asleep, I twirl my hair or I tell someone to do so, which makes me more relaxed and makes me fall asleep easily.

By anon333158 — On May 03, 2013

I've twirled my hair since I was about eight, but in the past couple of years, it happens more and more often and now there is rarely a moment when I'm not twirling my hair. I do it subconsciously most of the time (I don't realize that I'm doing it) but sometimes I feel like I need to twirl it (while I've been typing this message I've already stopped to twirl twice!) and I especially twirl it when I'm nervous or stressed. It makes me feel relaxed and I generally like the feel of it.

I want to stop because it's giving me really bad split ends in my hair and it sometimes annoys other people, but I just can't seem to! I've even asked my friends and family to slap my hand when they notice me doing it but it still doesn't work. So I'm not really sure how to stop this habit. I feel like its a silly thing to go and see a professional about. Has anyone successfully stopped doing it? If so, how?

By anon317355 — On Feb 01, 2013

My girlfriend twirls her hair repeatedly during the day and it is extremely annoying. I'll ask her to stop and 10 minutes later she's twirling again. Glad to see she's not the only one but I wish I could help her stop needing to twirl her hair all day.

By Shaybo — On Nov 09, 2012

I have twirled my hair ever since I can remember, and it relaxes me in times of stress. However, I can never seem to stop and now my hair is gradually falling out because of this nervous habit. The only time I stop is when my hair is short or when I have it in a ponytail or up in a bun.

By anon302478 — On Nov 09, 2012

I also have a problem with hair twirling. My hair feels nice and soft between my fingers and helps me to relax when I feel nervous or anxious. The only way I can stop is when I have my hair cut short or if my hands are kept busy.

By anon301477 — On Nov 04, 2012

I have been a chronic hair twirler since the age of 3. I have a home movie of me sitting in front of the t.v. with a bottle in one hand and my hair in the other, just twirling away.

I am now 23 and continue to twirl. I'm not sure why I continuously do this. Even now as I write this, I have to pause to get some twirling in. A lot of what I do throughout the day takes longer than it has to because I stop to twirl my hair. I like the softness of my hair between my fingers. I pass the strand that I twirl through all my fingers, the way people do with coins. Sometimes it'll get little loose tangles at the ends and I like to run my nails through that while I twirl. I will also rub it against my face if the twirl I'm twirling is soft enough. Then, to make it even weirder, I will begin a different twirl with other strands, so my head ends up looks like I have some oddly made dreadlocks around my head. I just can't stop twirling. I find it so soothing and relaxing. It puts me at ease and can even put me to sleep. I'm not sure if you would call this an OCD, but I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

By LaceyB — On Nov 28, 2011

It is simply a self soothing technique. I used to suck my thumb and twirl my hair when I was little. Now I just twirl. It brings me peace and comfort. I do it when I am listening, watching a movie, laying in bed especially. Unless you are self mutilating and ripping or pulling your hair out I don't think this should be deemed as a negative thing. Even grown ups need comfort. My little girl twirls her hair too! Funny too, because there is always that "good" spot usually behind the ear. The hair is soft there. It's great!

By anon185234 — On Jun 10, 2011

I have always twirled my hair since i was a small child, like most, to fall asleep or just when i was tired, but in the last year, i have been under a lot of stress and seem to have started pulling at it and picking at my scalp.

I am 46 years old now and this really concerns me. Like others, I too have some bald spots that i am able to cover but am concerned it is going to get worse. It's sad how stress can overtake so many areas of our lives. It's nice to know someone else knows what you are dealing with.

By anon169795 — On Apr 22, 2011

i sort of squish the damaged parts of my hair. it's constant whether I am nervous, bored, reading, etc. It's always worse when I'm nervous. I ruin my hair because I only have compulsions to pull it, twirl and "squish" the top damaged layer. Oh i wish for nice hair.

By anon156154 — On Feb 25, 2011

I didn't notice that I twirled my hair until I was in first grade when a boy walking by my classroom at dismissal mimicked me. I'm 36.

I've cut my hair short thinking that it would help me to forget the habit, but I would go right back to it. I am having mental issues at this time, anxiety being one of them.

But I love twirling my hair because it's silky, and sometimes i sweep it across my lips due to the silkiness of it (that will teach my mom to take my silky blanky when I was little)! But it definitely does provide s type of comfort. More excessive during time of fear, deep thought or anxiety.

By anon154683 — On Feb 21, 2011

I'm sitting twirling my hair now. I'm not anxious. i think it's a boredom thing, though i like the feel of it. it's soft and it's something i have always done from being a wee child.

My mum still makes me aware of it when she sees me doing it and I'm 39. It could be an anxious trait as i have suffered with anxiety disorder most of my life, but i don't feel anxious all the time when i do it, it's just part of me, i think.

By anon154574 — On Feb 21, 2011

i agree. i have been told i have ocd because i twirl my hair so often. In my opinion, it is not a "bad" habit and is healthier than most of the things people with ocd do. it bothers my mother a lot and i don't understand why it's so annoying to others if it doesn't bother us! for me, it helps me cope with pressure and relaxes me.

By anon154276 — On Feb 20, 2011

I also put my fingers in my hair. however my boyfriend thinks i do it for other guys! i don't even realize sometimes i have done it. i don't care who is there or not. i just have a bad habit of doing it. hope he understands because it always makes us fight and i don't even mean to do it in any rude manner. it's just my hand goes to my head itself!

By anon150822 — On Feb 09, 2011

it's definitely healthier than smoking cigarettes.

By anon147057 — On Jan 28, 2011

Why do people want to put OCD onto everything? Everybody has something they do repeatedly. does this make everybody OCD? I'd say the ones who keep saying over and over and over that hair twirling is a sign of OCD are the ones that have OCD for repeatedly saying it.

I twirl my hair, it is very soothing, just like a massage. It relaxes girls, and it is absolutely a normal soothing act.

Men who keep asking for sex have OCD. Let's talk about that OCD.

Police officers who pull people over for every little thing show signs of OCD.

Do movie stars have OCD? They get married, then get divorced, then get married again, then get divorced again, and on and on and on.

Doctors do things to make money every day in their offices, like treat people every day. are doctors OCD?

Society tells us to eat fruits and veggies every day. is society asking me and you to be OCD?

Come on, is there really such a thing as OCD?

Everybody is OCD. I guarantee it.

By anon128914 — On Nov 21, 2010

I have twirled, knotted and braided my hair compulsively since the age of about 11 (at least that is when I consciously remember doing it), and that was over 30 years ago. The first time I remember doing it was in school, when I was taking a test. I definitely believe it is linked to stress and anxiety for me.

By anon117496 — On Oct 10, 2010

I wear my hair in a pony tail a lot and I twirl my hair sometimes because one, it relaxes me somehow. And two, it just gives me something to do with my hands when I'm bored or nervous.

By anon111085 — On Sep 14, 2010

i twirl my hair when i am tired. it relaxes me and helps me fall asleep.

By anon107674 — On Aug 31, 2010

I have a friend, that has the urge to twirl her hair a lot. She doesn't think anything of it, but I think she may have OCD.

By love0876 — On Aug 12, 2010

I twirl my hair when I have just gotten my hair colored or cut. My hair feels extra soft when I first come back from the salon, causing me to want to twirl it.

By anon102710 — On Aug 09, 2010

I twirl my hair because the softness of my hair on my fingers relaxes me and simply feels good.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
Learn more
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