Who Invented Hair Ties? (Invention Timeline Explained)

For most of history, the hair tie has existed in some form. The original purpose of a hair tie was to prevent hair out of people’s eyes and away from moving items while doing household work. The hair tie subsequently evolved into a styling accessory by many other names, such as the amusing dodoggle, bobble, and chongo. This accessory ties braids, ponytails, or pineapples for curly locks and piglets.

Like how popular hairstyles changed over the years, the hair tie has also evolved from a strip of ribbon to the popular scrunchie today. But aren’t you curious about who invented the first hair tie? Let’s try to look back and see who deserves our recognition.

Who invented the hair ties?

Since Thomas Hancock’s invention and patenting of elastic in the 1800s, many have switched from using ribbons to elastic to tie their hair back.

HairtTies key contributors

  • European Soldiers
    First people to use ribbons as a hair tie

    Until the end of the 1700s, European men wore their hair in a “soldier’s queue” to show submission. For this reason, hair ties became a fashion accessory primarily for men.Throughout most of the 1800s, the military-ordered hairstyle was the queue.

  • Thomas Hancock
    Inventor of elastic

    His invention of elastic has contributed significantly to the creation of the modern hair tie. The early elastics, however, were used to fasten shoes, stockings, and gloves rather than hair.

  • Hook Brown Company
    Manufacturer of the first elastic loop fastener

    It is a company that developed the way to use rubber bands. But instead of rubber bands, they called it the Elastic Loop Fastener. People today still buy and use this type of hair tie.

  • Rommy Revson
    Inventor of the popular Scrunchie

    A nightclub pianist and singer invented and patented the “Scunci,” which later became popular as Scrunchie. After experiencing hair breakage because of abrasive hair ties, Revson was inspired to make a softer alternative. The waistband of her pajama pants inspired her first Scrunchie design.

When were hair ties invented?

The first hair ties were invented in the 18th century. The elastic bands were used to hold gloves, stockings, and shoes together.

A brief history of hair ties

In the 18th century, European Soldiers used a ribbon to tie down their traditionally long hair in a hairstyle called “soldier’s queue.” The Manchu people in China first used this hairstyle in the 17th century to show loyalty to the Qing dynasty. But instead of a pin or “caul,” European Soldiers used ribbon to bind their queue.

This hairstyle continued to be a part of the Royal Navy, which they called “pigtails.” Until 1805, pigtails were worn by officers and other ranks until around 1820.

Aside from ribbons, the invention of elastic also contributed to developing the hair tie we know today. In the 1800s, Thomas Hancock invented the elastic bands and acquired their first patent in 1820. But instead of using it for the hair, the first elastics are used to secure shoes, gloves, and stockings. In 1845, Stephen Perry duplicated his success by acquiring the patent for the rubber band.

A company called Hook Brown Company also leveled up the use of rubber bands. They manufactured the first elastic loop fastener, which they patented in 1958. As of today, this type of hair tie is still available.

Many types of hair ties came after elastic loop fasteners, and the most popular today is the Scrunchie. The Scrunchie was invented by Rommy Revson, who was granted a patent in 1987. Revson desired a softer alternative to the metal hair ties that were common in the 1980s, so she created the initial prototype of this product. She called it after her pet toy poodle’s name, Scunci.

Due to the hair tie’s fabric becoming scrunched over time, the name “Scrunchie” emerged. Scrunchies, including larger and more intricate versions, gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s after being patented. Scrunchies are manufactured by sewing an elastic band into a colorful, grouped cloth.

This hair tie has the flexibility of a rubber band but is unlikely to hurt when broken. It also serves as a canvas for artistic expression since it may be decorated with ribbons, jewels, charms,  jewelry, or other objects that can be attached to it with a needle and thread.

Hair ties timeline

  1. 18th century
    The first usage of hair ties

    It was the 18th century when people had the idea to use hair ties. European soldiers used ribbons to tie their hair back in a hairstyle called  “soldiers queue.”

  2. 1800s to 1820
    The invention of elastic

    In the 1800s, elastic bands were produced by Thomas Hancock, an English engineer who is also considered the father of the rubber industry. In 1820, he received the first patent for elastic bands.

  3. 1845
    Patent for rubber band was received

    In 1845, Stephen Perry, an inventor and businessman duplicated Hancock’s success. He received the patent for the rubber band; his company was Messers Perry and Co, which manufactures rubber in London.

  4. 1958
    New use of rubber bands was found

    In 1958, Hook Brown Company produced the first elastic loop fasteners used to tie hair. It was the moment wherein people began using elastic loop fasteners to tie their hair back.

  5. 1987
    The invention of softer and gentler hair ties

    The popular hair tie, Scrunchie, was coined and patented in 1987 by Rommy Revson. Scrunchie became popular due to its soft and fashionable style, making it easier and gentler to tie hair back.

Where were hair ties invented?

The inventor of the first elastic fastenings, Thomas Hancock, is from the United Kingdom. So, there’s a great possibility that the first hair ties were made in the UK.

Why are hair ties important?

  • Prevents hair breakage

    Tying your hair helps prevent tangled hair, particularly while you sleep. For this reason, most people tie their hair before they go to bed, so when they get up in the morning, their hair will be easier to comb.

  • Allows better eye development

    Hair ties help prevent hair from blocking the eyes. For children one-year-old to seven, keeping their face clear from anything that blocks their eyes against sensory stimulation and daylight is very important for their eye development. So, they must use hair ties to tuck their locks away.

  • Provides comfort and convenience

    Hair ties can keep your hair in place while doing house chores, working out, or washing your face. It also helps to tie your hair back during hot days with a hair tie.

  • Creates favorite hairstyle

    You can enjoy styling your hair in a cool updo with hair ties. You can put your hair up using softer hair ties to avoid getting your hair damaged.

Hair ties by the numbers

  • 5.6 The elastics and ties category had the highest revenue share (32.3%) in 2020, which amounts to $5.6 billion. The availability of a vast assortment of products in terms of form, material, and shape is credited to the segment’s growth.
  • 73.3It is the percentage of people who say they use hair ties.
  • 2The size of the elastic hair tie that suits most hair types and thickness is 2mm.  Most people use thinner elastic because they are more stretchable than thicker ones.
  • 500 Most of the time, individuals misplace their hair ties, ending in landfills. Unfortunately, hair ties take roughly 500 years to decompose.
  • 4 to 6 Change the elastic bands on your dreadlocks every 4 to 6 weeks. It will help prevent knots on the end of your dreads and breakage of the hair tie.

Five facts about the hair ties

  • Number of years hair ties are used

    Likely, hair ties are already around for thousands of years. One proof is when European soldiers used ribbons to tie their queues.

  • Hair ties have many names

    Hair ties are called different names, including Bands, Binder, Chongo, Bobble, Dodoggle, Ding dong, Dooflatchee, Doof, Elastic band, Hair binder, Hair band, Hair bow, Hair elastic, Gogo, etc.

  • Symbol of status

    In the past, European women used colorful ribbons to tie their hair. These ribbons indicate their status, and most of their hairstyles were embellished with jewels and flowers.

  • Different hair ties for various hairstyles

    Hair ties are not made equal. So, particular types of hair ties are used for a specific hairstyle. For example, bigger hair ties are most often used to secure box braids, while smaller hair ties are used to bind small sections.

  • A lecture-worthy type of hair tie

    David Riley, an artist, had much to say about the scrunchie in 2011. He popularized the term “the scrunchie dilemma” in his talk at the New Museum in New York City.The scrunchie dilemma, according to him, is that something so necessary, practical, and in many ways, mature has come to be connected to immaturity and a lack of sophistication. Unfortunately, there is a mismatch between what it is and what it stands for—a crisis of identity.

Hair ties invention FAQ

  • Which hair ties are least damaging?

    Scrunchies are the most recommended hair tie to experience the least damage as they are stretchy and very comfortable to use. Scunci, in particular, is a jelly-like ponytail that keeps hair in place without causing damage.

  • What type of hair tie is best for the hair?

    Traditional elastic hair ties are best if you want a tighter hold. Meanwhile, opt for softer materials like microfiber, polyester, and stretch to reduce tension or frizz. But for fragile hair, opt for silk hair ties.

  • What are the different types of hair ties?

    Elastic and scrunchie are the most common types of hair ties today.

  • How often should you change your hair tie?

    You don’t need to change them regularly. However, wash your hair ties daily, particularly after working out.

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