TikTok Hair Hack Removes Rubber Bands With Essential Oil, But Is It Safe? Here's What To Know

No matter what hair type you have — curly, wavy, straight, thick, thin, long, or short — in all likelihood, you have experienced the pain and downright torture of getting something stuck in your hair. Maybe it was chewing gum that you just couldn't pull free, or perhaps it was your own hair brush.

However, one of the worst culprits when it comes to damaging your hair is the dreaded hair tie. Those little elastics are handy when it comes to achieving the effortlessly tousled updo or perfect sleek ponytail, but they are prone to getting stuck, often ripping your hair apart when you try to remove them. TikTok appears to have a solution for this — influencer Aynsley Ovard shared a video with her over 350,000 followers, demonstrating a new hack. She applies essential oils to the band to help it slide off effortlessly, and her video has been liked more than 270,000 times. Maybe she's on to something, but is it safe?

Citrus essential oils remove the hair tie, but there's a catch

In the comments section of Aynsley Ovard's TikTok video, a fan asks if she's using lemon essential oil to remove the hair ties from her daughter's hair, and Ovard enthusiastically confirms. According to skincare expert Dr. Sarah Villafranco, citrus-based essential oils are the best tool to get your hair tie to slide off without damaging your hair. "I suspect it is the limonene in the essential oil that interacts with the rubber band and weakens the structure so it breaks," Dr. Villafranco told MindBodyGreen. "The essential oil and the rubber are both nonpolar hydrocarbons, so when they come together, some of the rubber dissolves into the oil, causing it to weaken."

However, should you be concerned about the safety of essential oils? A subsequent commenter on Ovard's video warned, "I burned my daughter's skin so bad doing this! After that, I try and avoid it. Oils ... if not diluted ... can hurt." Ovard said that concern is why she uses a small cotton swab to apply the oil to the elastic band and nowhere else. This concern is actually a big deal, and you should always be cautious when applying citrus-based essential oils anywhere near your skin. It's all because the limonene that removes the rubber band can react badly with your skin.

Limonene in lemon oil is a known skin irritant

UK skincare clinic Harley Street Emporium says that limonene — which is found in citrus-based essential oils — is "a known irritant to the skin and eyes and as such can trigger bad reactions like red, blistered, dry or cracked skin seen in contact dermatitis. It's also possible to experience an allergic reaction to it." The clinic notes that limonene is used as a chemical solvent in cleaning products to dissolve grease, so if you wouldn't put Lysol or Pine-Sol on your skin, you should avoid applying undiluted lemon oils to your skin.

However, if you protect your skin, citrus-based essential oils can actually be good for your hair. Astrophysicist Sabrina Stierwalt noted in Scientific American that essential oils have antibacterial properties and can help treat alopecia (hair loss). Wellness Mama says the lemon essential oils can stimulate hair growth, while The Hindustani Times reports that lemon oil can reduce oily scalp and help fight dandruff.

If you're just not sold on lemon oil or worried about the safety, TikTok influencer Audrey Victoria shared her favorite regular oil in a video. She coated her hair ties before she placed them in her hair to ensure zero breakage upon removal. Inspired by Victoria, Mane Addicts lead editor Ashley Locke experimented with Argan oil and found it worked brilliantly. Lemon or no lemon, oils seem to do the trick!