Men with long hair don’t always have the easiest time. While it’s pretty common to have it, there are certain settings where it could be seen as a disadvantage. The question is, is long hair unprofessional?
Long hair may be considered unprofessional in workplaces where it could pose a safety or hygiene risk. In addition, it might be frowned upon in more traditional or corporate settings. However, it is generally accepted in business-casual and smart-casual workplaces.
That’s the short answer – but there’s more to it.
Let’s go through the 3 main factors that should determine whether or not your long hair is unprofessional.
At the end of the day, it’ll depend on individual factors that are specific to you and your job.
Let’s get to it.
How To Know Whether Your Long Hair Is Unprofessional
Consider all of these factors before coming to your conclusion. They may not all be relevant to you, but there’s a good chance that at least a couple of them will be.
Certain industries are simply less tolerant and friendly toward men with long hair and that’s the unfortunate truth.
This usually comes down to one of two reasons:
- It’s unsafe given the nature of the work.
- It’s considered too “untraditional” for a traditional workplace with conservatively dressed workers.
Let’s go through each of those reasons.
There are certain industries where having long hair is considered unsafe – this goes for both men and women.
Examples include emergency workers or those in the military as long hair can interfere with important headgear.
It may also include those who work in the food and drink industry, as long hair may pose a hygiene problem.
In these cases, long hair would be considered unprofessional and inappropriate. It would usually be specifically prohibited in the workplace’s dress code.
There are also workplaces that feel long hair is unprofessional because it doesn’t fall in line with their traditional dress code.
These are often corporate workplaces where a suit would usually be required.
The interesting thing about these workplaces is that long hair may not be specifically prohibited in the dress code as it might come across as discriminatory.
However, there’s usually almost an “unspoken rule” that men are expected to have short, well-kempt hairstyles and short, well-groomed facial hair.
Anything less would be considered “unprofessional” by their standards and it may even affect career progression.
Workplaces with more relaxed dress codes, however, would usually be fine with long hair. These would usually be “business-casual” at the very least.
It’s often the case that long hair doesn’t actually look unprofessional because of its length.
It’s actually how neat and tidy it looks that influences its professionalism more than anything else.
Long hair that’s scruffy, poorly brushed, and unclean will always look less professional than well-groomed long hair.
So, if you feel as though your long hair may be considered unprofessional for the workplace, consider making sure it’s properly groomed and then reassessing.
It may just be OK.
While this factor isn’t quite as important as the industry itself, it’s still worth considering in borderline cases.
The seniority of the person with long hair is also important to consider.
People out there that have reached high and important positions in whatever field they may be working with often have more freedom to wear what they want.
They’d also have more freedom to style their hair the way they want it without being called out on it.
It’s almost as though they’ve earned the right to have long hair and not be called unprofessional because of their credentials or authority.
There won’t be many people out there who this applies to, but it’s definitely worth considering.
At the end of the day, having to trim long hair you’ve potentially been growing for months/years is a big deal.
You don’t want to do it when you may not even have to.
That’s why it’s important to consider this factor, as well as the previous two, before coming to your conclusion.
How To Make Long Hair Look More Professional
If you feel as though the industry or workplace would allow long hair, consider the following tips to make it look as professional as possible.
1. Wash Regularly
This is probably the most important thing you could do to make long hair look more professional.
In general, it’s best to shampoo twice a week to avoid drying things out while still ensuring that you get a regular cleanse.
However, try to rinse the hair with water alone once a day to get rid of as much excess oil and grime at the end of a long day.
2. Trim Regularly
Trimming long hair can be a stressful experience – undoing months of growth with a few hasty snips is never a great feeling.
However, a key reason why long hair can often come across as unprofessional is due to how scruffy and untidy it looks.
One of the reasons behind this is the breakages/split-ends that develop as it grows longer.
The simple act of “skimming the ends” can remove these split-ends and make the hair look fuller and tidier as a result.
Going to a barber to simply get the ends snipped off may sound strange, but it’s effective and very important.
It’s also usually a good idea for a barber to remove bulk and weight from long hair using thinning shears. Not always, but it’s often worth doing.
It’s worth having a discussion with your barber to find out what would be best for you and your specific hair.
I’ve written an article on what to tell a barber when growing your hair out if you’re interested in learning more.
3. Consider Tying It Up
If you feel as though your long hair is just always in the way at work, consider tying it up into a ponytail or bun.
While this may not appeal to you outside of work, it could be a good way of keeping it out of the way and also making it look more professional.
4. Consider Going Clean-Shaven
Interestingly, this tip isn’t directly to do with the long hair itself. Instead, it’s to do with facial hair or more accurately, a lack of facial hair.
The main risk with long hair is that you come across as scruffy and untidy. Sticking to the previous tips above should reduce the risk of this, but it may not be enough.
While beards can look just as professional as long hair can when groomed the right way, it does make things a lot harder.
Having long hair and a beard just increases the risk of you looking untidy from the neck up.
Going clean-shaven or at most growing short stubble would make things simpler. It’ll make it less likely that you come across as poorly groomed overall.
It’s really tough to go wrong with clean-shaven. However, if you feel as though it makes you look too young, consider short stubble instead.
There you have it. Hopefully, you’ve now got all the information you need to decide whether or not your long hair is unprofessional for the specific setting you work in.