I am a 32-year-old owner of a small company with a handful of employees. One of my employees, “Laura,” wears her hair in an extremely tight ponytail every day. I have noticed that Laura has a significantly receding hairline and thinning hair around her face, probably due to traction alopecia, a condition where hair loss is caused by overly tight hairstyles. If traction persists, the hair loss can be permanent, but it can also be halted or reversed in early stages by changing hairstyles. Many women are not aware that hair loss can be caused by tight hairstyles, and I believe that Laura may not have this information. Is there a tactful way I can share it with her? For reference, Laura is Mexican American and I am white, and her tight ponytail is a popular hairstyle among Mexican American women her age. I don’t want to seem to be critiquing her cultural hair choices. Laura and I are close and friendly, and we chat several times a day.
I’ve thought about doing something subtle, like wearing my hair in a tight ponytail one day and then taking my hair down and commenting to her that I make sure to give my hair a “rest,” to avoid baldness and receding hairline caused by tight ponytails. Is that weird or too subtle? I would feel badly if she experienced permanent baldness because I never alerted her, but for all I know she doesn’t even mind her receding hairline. I also don’t want to make her self-conscious at work.