This is troubling news.

By Kelly Bryant
Updated May 03, 2016 @ 8:00 am
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Perhaps you’ve spent years (okay, maybe just hours) perfecting your perfect ponytail. You know the one — the style that you make so sleek, sophisticated, and bouncy that it can actually go from work to cocktails or barre to brunch without much adjusting. Heck, you can even twist it into a high bun if you’re feeling adventurous. Well, we come bearing bad news: A new study says that trusty style could be contributing to hair loss.

Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers at Johns Hopkins investigated whether or not specific hairstyles contribute to traction alopecia (TA), a condition suffered by approximately one-third of African-American women. TA is defined as gradual hair loss when the follicle is consistently damaged or stressed.

The study did identify several popular styles (think tight ponies, tight buns, braids, and dreadlocks, to name a few) that are cause for concern and even categorized them into high-, moderate-, and low-risk options.

But here’s the thing, even if you prefer to keep your hair up and away from your face, there’s still plenty of hope that it won’t lead to hair loss…so long as you mix up your style.

“Varying your hairstyle is important,” says Gary Goldenberg, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in an interview with Yahoo Beauty. “I also recommend patients prolong the period of time between chemical treatments, or stop them completely.”

Essentially, just be kind to your strands and literally don’t be afraid to let your hair down. Your follicles will thank you for it later.