Sexual preferences are as diverse as the people who have them, but at the core of every predilection is the need (and right!) to feel supported, safe, and respected. So if you've tried some light hair-pulling in the past, and want to kick it up a notch but are unsure as to how to do so in a way that's safe and that will feel good for you and your partner, know that you’re not alone. We talked to sex educators to find out a bit more about hair--pulling and how to do it safely during sex so that everyone feels great in the process.
7 tips for hair pulling during sex
Before you start hair pulling during sex, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you don’t cause any injury and the experience is pleasurable and fun for all those involved..
1. Get consent.
The first step to engaging in any sexual activity is to ask for consent. Both parties must fully be on board with the experience, and their decisions should not be swayed by guilt or pressure. Madeline Cooper, a psychotherapist and sex therapist based in New York, tells O.school: “You want to make sure that what you are doing feels good for both partners and is not putting someone in a position where they do not have the ability to fully consent,” she says. So before you even attempt to try this move, make sure your partner clearly and willingly agrees to it — and remember that consent can be reversed or withdrawn at any point.
2. Talk about boundaries and physical limitations.
Once all parties have consented, it’s important to be aware of the physical limitations of your partner. “Our necks are pretty fragile and our heads are pretty sensitive and our hair can be pulled out pretty easily,” Marina Voron, certified sex therapist and cohost of the Simply Great relationship podcast, says. That’s why it’s so important to understand your partner’s “physical limitations” before you incorporate the act in the bedroom, she explains. Establishing a safe word can be extremely beneficial, especially when “boundaries are likely to be pushed and vulnerability is high.”
3. Start slow and pull hair in a smooth, consistent motion.
While it might be tempting to pull hair in a quick jerky motion, it’s important to begin with a loose grip and gauge your partner’s interest. You might decide to kiss them in between tugs, or gently bite on their neck. Maybe you whisper something into their ear. Easing into the experience can not only create a hot build up, but it can also keep both parties relaxed and safe. Voron says, “It's typically safer to pull hair in a smooth, consistent motion,” rather than in harsh, sudden movements. Once you and your partner get more comfortable, you can adapt the pace to find what feels best for both of you.
4. Pull from the back.
Ideally, you should only grab hair located at the back of the head or the crown — never on the hair growing from the sides or the front — unless those areas have been pre-approved by your partner or partners.
5. Get close to the scalp.
The scalp has special nerve endings that when stimulated, create a pleasurable experience — so it’s important to pull from the roots. If you pull from the tips or ends of the hair, you’re a lot more likely to hurt your partner and reduce enjoyment. “You start at the very bottom, at the nape of the neck,” Voron explains, “and as you go up you want to be as close to the scalp as possible, [essentially] rubbing against the scalp with some tension.”
6. Grab plenty of hair.
It’s helpful to think of your hand like a very wide comb, Voron says, so that when you grab the hair and close your fingers you can have a solid amount of hair in your hands. “If you tug a few hairs [you’re] actually pulling out hair,” she says. “Most people find it more comfortable to have their hair pulled closer to the root, and also have a handful of hair pulled. For example, if they have longer hair, grab it like you would a ‘pony tail’ rather than individual hairs or small groups of hairs.” While it’s a bit more challenging with shorter hair, you still really want to grasp onto as much hair as you can.
7. Check-in with your partner.
Throughout the experience, remember to periodically check-in with your partner — especially if it’s your first time pulling hair. There are plenty of ways to communicate in bed without killing the mood. You might ask your partner if a certain act feels good, or if they want to switch things up. Maybe you ask them how they want to be touched. While boundaries and the “dos” and “do nots” of having your hair or your partner’s hair pulled would’ve been, ideally, established beforehand, if something feels uncomfortable during sex, Cooper says it’s best to be direct with your partner.
Sex toys make hair pulling even better
If you and your partner find that you love hair-pulling and want to intensify the experience, there are plenty of things you can try. For example, adding BDSM and kink pleasure products can heighten sensations, intensify pain (if you find pain pleasurable), or add new and exciting forms of stimulation. Here are a few of our recommendations for sex toys that can intensify hair-pulling.
- Handcuffs. Using some restraints so your partner can feel as though they are “trapped” while you grab a handful of their hair can feel great to some. We recommend Sportsheets Beginner’s Handcuffs if you’re new to restraints.
- Blindfold. Being blindfolded while having hair pulled can force a person to really concentrate on the sensations they are feeling. Being unable to see means less distraction and more concentration on sensation. Some people find the pain erotic. Others like a light hair pull that simply signals intense lust and desire. However you enjoy hair pulling, a blindfold can force one to really stay in the moment. We recommend the Deluxe Fantasy Love Mask.
- Flogger. Trying impact play can take some practice. And similar to hair pulling, there are many safety factors to consider and open communication is a must. A light whip or flogger, however, can be a great way to get your partner to concentrate on other areas of the body and lean into the “pain” if that’s what they enjoy in between some hair pulling. We recommend Sportsheets Whip and Tickle so you can alternate between impact and sensation play, hard and light, depending on what your partner enjoys.
The bottom line
Hair-pulling takes practice, but when done carefully and correctly, it can add a lot of spice and novelty to the bedroom. To ensure ongoing pleasure and safety, remember to check-in and openly communicate with your partner. Trust-building in a sexual relationship makes the experience all the more enjoyable. If you want to make hair pulling even hotter, check out our catalog of BDSM and kink sex toys.