What Your Hairstyle Says About Your Personality
If you think booking an appointment with your stylist is all about looking good and feeling better – think again.
Spending an hour in the salon can give you an instant bolt of confidence, but the way you cut your hair also sends all sorts of messages to the people around you.
How you’re perceived in a staff meeting, how much money you make, and your desirability on the dating market can all stem from the first impressions people have about your appearance – and there’s even data to back it up!
We dug into what body language experts and stylists had to say about five key hairstyles, so you know what kind of signals you’re sending:
Short & Sweet
From the bob to the blunt cut, shorter hairstyles tend to be associated with straight-forward, serious, and professional women who have smarts and a lot of class.
“Short hair in contemporary American culture is typically seen as less sexy, but more professional,” Rose Weitz, a professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University, told Today.com.
“Women are expected to be feminine, but are also are expected to fit in with men’s norms in the workplace…more often than not, they’re working with male bosses and working with male higher-ups, so, that’s always a tradeoff,” Weitz added.
For hairstylist James Vides, this perception also has plenty to do with the confidence you need to go short.
“It always seems that in a group, it’s the girl with short hair who comes off as the most confident, youthful, fun, and flirty,” Vides told Elle.
“It takes a lot of self-assurance to pull off a short hairstyle, but as long as you love it, you can rock it.”
Use it to your advantage: If your look helps people believe you’re capable, file that away and act with confidence! Offer to lead a team at work, show off your listening skills as you build consensus with your taskforce, or lobby for a promotion or more responsibility – just make sure you’ve earned it, first.
Subvert expectations: If you’re perceived as serious because of your sharp, no-funny-business look, be the first one to ask friends and colleagues out for a drink and to show your fun side. Even doing it once will increase the likelihood that you’ll be invited out the next time there’s a group activity on the books.
Stay on top of your style: Thick hair, even when it’s short, tends to be drier than fine tresses. Make sure you’re getting enough moisture by using a leave-in conditioning treatment. Apply to your tips and work upwards for fully moisturized, gorgeous hair.
Long, Romantic Waves
If you’re rocking that Disney Princess hair, you may be perceived as youthful – or younger than you are – and potentially even less professional.
In stylist Franco Della Grazia’s book, long hair can still be professional, as long as it’s under control at work.
“A woman who turns up for a corporate job interview with long, superstyled hair will be perceived as high-maintenance,” Della Grazia told Elle.
“And, unfortunately, a woman who labors over her hairstyle and appearance will be seen as someone who might spend too much time on herself—and not enough on her work.”
On the upside? Data shows that men still love long hair on women – but that’s a double-edged sword.
Men might be warmer to you at work, as they were in Johanna Cox’s story about navigating her position in national defense with a pixie cut. But that might not mean they respect you.
While you should cut your hair to please no man (or woman) other than yourself, we get why more male attention might be a win for some ladies.
Use it to your advantage: Feeling desirable is great, but respect and consideration is better. Make sure your date knows how to treat you right.
Subvert expectations: Sweep your hair into a low pony or bun to signal you’re ready to dig in and work. Don’t be afraid to speak up at staff meetings to show you’re ready to lead.
Stay on top of your style: Often women who opt for long hair think about length before health. Be sure to get regular trims to eliminate split ends and prevent breakage. You can also use products proven to repair split ends and reduce breakage like Hairfinity Revitalizing Leave-in Conditioner and Hairifnity Nourishing Botanical Oil.
According to Elle, rocking a head full of natural curls usually signals that you’re loads of fun to be around.
That’s because a woman with curls is often perceived as “carefree and approachable,” Della Grazia explains.
But for some women who decide to rock natural hair, it could be the choice holding them back from the job, says executive recruiter Stacey Gordon.
“Not once has anyone asked me about how I ‘get my hair that way’ when it is straightened,” Gordon writes at Forbes, speaking to the many micro-aggressions women of color might face in the workplace.
“During an interview, an African-American woman with straightened hair is confident in the knowledge that her hair is not a factor in the interviewer’s thoughts because we have all bought into the idea that straightened hair is acceptable. Curly, kinky and braided hair is not,” Gordon adds, though she challenges the underlying assumption about this idea.
Push back against these assumptions yourself by taming your mane (just a little) – then killing it in a blazer during your next interview.
Use it to your advantage: You can lead the pack with a cheerful attitude and your spirit of goodwill. Those aren’t bad ways to get things done – at work and at home. Just make sure no one tries to walk all over you.
Subvert expectations: If you’re “on” all the time, it might be hard to make space for yourself to be quiet. Don’t be afraid to ask for space and time when you need it – or just take it for yourself.
Stay on top of your style: Girls with natural curls understand how difficult it can be to keep hair properly moisturized. Look for ultra-conditioning oils like coconut, jojoba, and avocado oils.
Blonde vs. Brunette
American’s associations with hair color are as old as the hills – and research shows these attitudes aren’t changing anytime soon.
Blondes: fun, outgoing, ditzy.
Brunettes: serious and mysterious.
Ugh. There’s little to be done about subtle social and cultural mores like these, so we say: embrace your natural color, no matter the association, or experiment with a new look that makes you happy.
Stay on top of your style: Remember: dyeing hair can lead to major breakage. Make sure you work hard to put moisture back into recently dyed hair to keep it soft, supple, and healthy.
In the past four or five years, gray hair has been embraced by artists and countercultural babes as a way to signal an affiliation with all things cool, hip, and subversive.
For women over 40, perceptions about gray hair can run the gamut from distinguished to aging, says Weitz.
“By and large, it’s still an unusual choice to let hair simply, naturally go gray,” Weitz told Today.com.
“This is not a culture that venerates the elderly, and especially not a culture that supports elderly or older women. So, you have to have a certain level of confidence to choose to go gray.”
Match your natural gray hair with a cut that will flatter your cheekbones and make you feel as powerful and confident as you really are.
Use it to your advantage: If you’re old enough to go silver, you’ve been around long enough to deserve respect. Ask for it.
Subvert expectations: A sleek bob or asymmetrical cut can undercut the notion that you’re an old fuddy-duddy. Unless you want to lean into your crotchety side, in which case – go for it.
Stay on top of your style: As we age, our hair becomes thinner and more porous. Cut down on heat styling, amp up the protein in your diet, and create volume with a layered cut.
Initial perceptions about our hairstyles might not be fair, but people make snap judgments about appearance all day long.
Make those cultural perceptions work in your favor – and, more importantly, learn how to keep the hair you do have healthy and happy.