Here is an ingenious way to take out a big thick ponytail without losing more than a few hairs.

I swear, every time I do this technique, I am very rarely aware of any hairs being pulled out along the way.

But even if one or two are getting by me (though again, I don’t feel the hairs being pulled out), this technique for sure is the best at minimizing hair loss when taking out a ponytail–particularly if it’s big, thick, poofy or bushy.

First, always use a rubber band designed for ponytails, and one that does not have a metal piece holding it together. Ideally, use the ones covered in cloth.

When it’s time to take out your ponytail, bend over so that your ponytail flops over the top of your head. This will clear your work area around the rubber band.

Pull one of the loops of the rubber band just enough to fit the tip of your index finger beneath it, between the underside of this loop and the other loop (or two) that binds the ponytail.

I use two loops of a single rubber band. Almost always, one of the loops lies a little higher than or on top of the other.

This is the one that I lift just enough to insert the tip of my index finger under.

I do this EXTREMELY CAREFULLY because invariably, there will be hair that is tangled with the loop. I do not want to break this hair.

My goal is to “clear” the loop of any hair, so that it’s just my fingertip against it—not a single hair caught in there.

The next step is how you will prevent losing the hair that normally results when you take out a ponytail.

Even if you very carefully remove the rubber band of your ponytail as you’ve always done, it’s almost impossible to avoid yanking some strands out of their roots.

So for this next step, you will need a toenail clipper—the kind with thin pointy ends–NOT the kind in which the ends get wider.

While you’re holding that loop, that you’ve already made sure is clear of any caught strands, you will carefully slip one of the tiny shears of the clipper underneath the band that’s being held out by the tip of your index finger.

Insert the shears under all the way so that when you close the other shear over it, it severs the entire width of the loop that you’re holding with your fingertip.

If you’ve “cleared” any caught strands, the clippers will snip ONLY the rubber band.

I do this entirely by feel. No mirror is necessary.

Snip the rubber band. Very carefully extract the severed rubber band from your hair—so that you don’t snag any strands with it.

DO THIS SLOWLY. If you just yank it out, you’ll pull hairs with it.

This technique means you must have a steady supply of rubber bands–and for thick or bushy hair, you’ll need strong rubber bands.

You will have to keep buying them. But hey…your hair is worth it, right?

For women who have palm calluses from lifting weights, strands of hair can get caught by these.

The solution is to use a fingernail fail to file at the calluses so that they are smoother.

While working with your ponytail, try not to press the callused area of your palms into your hair.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.