Women's hair for dummies
March 28, 2021 7:11 PM   Subscribe

I have longer-than-a-bob hair for the first time in my adult life and no idea how to live with this much hair.

My hair is just about barely long enough to put in a little nub of a ponytail for the first time since high school. Before I cut it off back then, it had always been really long, and I basically just kept it braided. At no time did I have any Doing Hair skills or inclination, which I eventually solved by getting good short cuts.

After months of pandemic I'm committed to trying this at least long enough to get to a real ponytail. But I have no idea what to do with it in the meantime. It's always in my face. How do I control it without looking like a child? Maybe while even looking stylish? Low maintenance is essential but I'm resigned to buying hair... Things? Ties? Barrettes? Do I need to do anything to protect it from damage while wearing a riding helmet? How do I not look ridiculous after removing a sweaty helmet?

I'm going to get it cut again soon for a trim and some shape. I don't own and will not buy a blow dryer.
posted by sepviva to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I use wide elastic headbands to keep my hair out of my face. My hair is sometimes longer than bob hair length. I also hate any kind of hair upkeep.
posted by kinoeye at 7:29 PM on March 28, 2021

The thing about bobs is that they kind of are always in your face. I have a bob that I wear mostly pushed back or parted down the middle as I grow out my bangs. If it's up, it's in a half up, half down style, but I wear it down 90% of the time. It's currently shorter than in my question here but I style it the same regardless of length.

A light styling cream with some wax or gel in it is your friend - pop that in after the shower, scrunch, and let it air dry. I also like a salt spray, cult and king's jelly is my favorite but there are a lot out there.

For biking, I wear a hair band. I think Jukes are nice, but any will do. I think wearing one under the helmet has kept the front of my hair pretty well protected.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2021

I periodically go from bob-pixie-ish length all the way to full length hair (currently down to, well, my butt -- thanks pandemic). I also hate hairdryers and will not spend significant time on my hair.

The two major items for me are:
1) a few wide stretchy fabric headbands. Bonus points, if your hair is prone to breakage they can help make sure the frizzies stay back even after you can do a real ponytail. Make sure they're sized right, so they should be snug but not at all painful.
2) metal hair clips. I use little claw clips. I prefer metal because they break a lot less. They are good when I'm doing desk work or something else sedentary; keep shortish hair out of my face while it grows out. And once your hair's long, they can be used to hold up a bun or affix a braid to your head.

Last, make sure you've got a hairbrush that works well with your hair. Longer hair can get up to more serious mess and there's no sense in causing yourself pain trying to untangle it.
posted by nat at 9:27 PM on March 28, 2021

Fabric headbands are great with the caveat that they only stay on your head if your head happens to be the average size they were designed for. If your head, like mine, does not meet that criteria, they keep moving around and come off and are extremely annoying. I own some wire metal headbands that are flexible enough to accommodate my big head and do not exert a lot of pressure. They are often marketed as unisex. In addition, hair clips. You will have to experiment with what you like, can get to work and looks good for you, because not all hair clips are equal.

2nding that the trade off is normally products and tools. If you prefer not to spend money on tools you’ll need to figure out products that work for your hair. Specifically, you’ll need to find products that help you manage your hair’s texture and behaviour in its air dried state. So if your hair is wavy/curly find some kind of curl enhancing product or something that promises beach waves. If it tends to be straight, find something that helps combat frizz/smoothing. These will help your hair do what it is trying to do naturally already.

Also, if your hair was always short you may not be in the habit of using conditioner. The longer the hair the more likely you’ll need conditioner.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:08 PM on March 28, 2021

I have hair that is probably your length. Mine is medium thick, fairly coarse, and mildly wavy (it used to be much wavier but then perimenopause hit. C'est la vie). I have no idea if that's your hair texture, but for me, it means that now, my hair can occasionally air dry nicely into waves, but more often, it looks very odd with some hair kind of being straight in places, and frizzy and sticking out and bending in odd shapes in other places.

I am very, very lazy with my hair and put very little effort into it. I always air dry my hair (unless it is -20 degrees outside and I don't want it to freeze).

My pandemic hair routine: I shower in the late afternoon or evening (after all my work Zooms are finished so I won't be seeing anyone), let it air dry, and the next morning I quickly flatten the sticky-outiest sections of my hair with a flat iron.

It takes me literally one minute to tame the parts that are sticking out or bending into weird shapes. Your hair has to be dry when you flat iron it, but if you air dry it the day before, it's fine. Make sure you condition it; even when used sparingly, the flat iron can dry out your hair.

Now, a flat iron might seem high maintenance, but like I said, it literally takes me a minute. I cannot stress enough how lazy I am with my hair. I don't spend time carefully straightening the whole head of hair, I just smooth out the parts that are sticking out weirdest. It took a little practice, but I got the hang of it relatively quickly. Again: literally one minute.

The payoff for the very, very little time and effort I put in is amazing; when I first started doing this, I got a lot of compliments on it (I mean, it's possible my hair just looked really crappy before, I guess), I think because it looked like I had done something to it, but because it wasn't a drastic change (like it would have been if my hair were actually curly) people couldn't really put their finger on what I had done--they just knew I had done something and my hair wasn't sticking out all over the place. I can also go an extra day without washing my hair if I've ironed it.

If you get a flat iron, it's worth getting a good quality one. Like not one that costs $1000 or anything, but maybe just not the cheapest one out there.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:07 AM on March 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: At that length I like using clips or crossed bobby pins to stick the sides of my hair above and behind my ears, usually doing a little twisty thing to give volume, like just take the hair in front of your ear and flip it out, twist up towards your head, secure with clips or pins. You can get fancier or sleeker with this via products and curling or straightening but meh. If it’s long enough for the front chunks to meet a couple inches above the nape of your neck, do a half up half down thing and secure it with a flat barrette, which can be found in a variety of grownup styles. Usually that looks nicest if you have a few shorter pieces loose to frame your face but you can also pin or slick those back if that’s your preference. A proper style that you can find numerous video tutorials on is called the “half French twist”, it’s basically the same as before but you kind of twist the parts into each other and pin them underneath. It can be done with hair of many lengths and looks elegant. For an upgrade on the stretchy headband, look for long thin scarves that go with lots of your clothes, fold it up along a diagonal or whichever is longest and tie it at the nape of your neck under your hair, then secure with a couple pins if you need to. You can also cover a thinner headband this way.
posted by Mizu at 1:35 AM on March 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have a bob that I love to curl into Medusa like tendrils - It takes less time than you think (15 min tops)

I use a BUBBLE Curling wand - not a straight-sided curling wand - it needs to have bubbles to hold the short hair better. I hold the wand downward and do two layers of curls around my head.

Love the bob. Always had a bob. A bob will never be out of style.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 4:14 AM on March 29, 2021

Best answer: lolllllllll at people recommending heat styling tools to the person who very clearly said they won't even buy a blow dryer. Y'all high? Is there a gas leak in your house? Go check your stove.

OP, I haven't had a haircut since just before the pandemic when it was very very short with a side shave, which is more or less how I've been cutting it for years. My hair is now sitting on my shoulders. My instagram is in my profile, you can see for yourself that I have been where you are.

Things I have done, in order of length:
-upgraded my conditioner
-bought bobby pins and hair elastics
-bought a satin beanie to sleep in
-bought simple beanies to live in
-bought a hair clip and scrunchies

My hair is now long enough that all of it can fit into a clip or scrunchy when I pull it back, which has helped immensely. Sounds like you're not there yet.

For looking together when it wasn't long enough to pull all back, I've been parting it at the side and twisting the front up into a bobby pin like this. For staying sane, that's where the beanies come in. Hair is in my face? Pop on a beanie, hair goes away. That's probably what I'd do under your helmet until your hair can stay back into a low pony, some kind of lightweight cap to keep things contained.

Ironically, I used to be a big fan of wide elastic headbands to keep my hair out of my face for skincare, etc, but as my hair has gotten longer the headbands have sucked. My long hair sneaks around the headband into my face from the back, which is even more annoying since I specifically asked it not to.

I will not be keeping my hair long like this once haircuts are safe and easy again, it's not for me. My hair is THICK and at this point it's taking about 5 hours to dry after I wash it. Unreasonable. But I've figured out easy ways to cope that keep my hair from bothering me and looking decent at the same time.
posted by phunniemee at 5:09 AM on March 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I really like this "Don't Blow It" goo from Bumble and Bumble (I have fine hair but they also make one for thick). It works nicely even applied after a night shower, so long as I let my hair dry completely before heading to bed.

If I need to be presentable after a bike ride, I use a bit of dry shampoo or sea salt spray. When I commuted I brought a teeny little spray bottle along.
posted by veery at 5:10 AM on March 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Do you know how to french braid? When I was growing out my bangs, I did that a lot to keep it out of my face. Technically called a lace braid if you're searching for tutorials.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:31 AM on March 29, 2021

Best answer: I like low pigtails with helmets. Or a side braid (I have never learned to French braid, so just a braided pigtail.) For me this isn't looking like a child, but YMMV.

The plastic-coil shaped hair ties are nice (Bobble is one brand I think), and will grab the hair in a way that helps shorter hair stay in a ponytail.

I am of your thoughts on a hair dryer for anything other than an incredibly special occasion, yet I still love the heated hair straightening brush I got. Just let it air dry, then you run that thing through like you would brush it anyway and it comes out looking smooth and nice with a lot less heat damage. Probably for when it gets longer than your current length.

Oh, and dry shampoo. You can't be washing it nearly as often long as you would short, so dry shampoo helps a lot for those oily looking spots.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 6:42 AM on March 29, 2021

Best answer: YMMV of course, but you may want to wear a buff (like a headband) to keep hair out of your face while riding. Alternatively (or in addition to... I suppose), you could go for a half pony tail.

I sometimes have my hair cut hair shorter in the back and a bit longer in the front so that it can go into a pony tail.
posted by oceano at 7:01 AM on March 29, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions!

Also I didn't mean to say anyone else's hair looked childish, I’m just small with a round face and often get mistaken for much younger, plus haven’t done anything to with my hair since I was a kid, so am paranoid about it.
posted by sepviva at 8:56 AM on March 29, 2021

Response by poster: Also I can confirm phunniemee correctly identified that we have the same hair going on.
posted by sepviva at 6:30 PM on March 29, 2021

Why has no one talked about bangs? I go juuuuust above my brows with thinning shears so there’s no harsh line. If they’re too wide, it looks off, so cut conservatively and adjust. I guess mine end 3/4 of the way to the ends of my brows and then taper (sharply) down (so they’re blended).

Then, to reduce bulk (which is the source of triangle hair, if that’s a problem for you), I clip the top section of hair at the crown, so that’s untouched, and use the thinning shears at the parietal ridge. (Quick edit: I’m cutting hair UNDERNEATH the top layer. I’m cutting invisible layers.) Thus there’s more volume at the crown and ridge and a little less through the lengths.

With an ok-enough cut, I do absolutely nothing to style, I hate styling incredibly much. I do use a decent conditioner (Kevin Murphy) but drugstore shampoo (neutrogena clarifying or dove).

(Sorry, am super tired, if this doesn’t make sense to me tomorrow morning I’ll come back and make it comprehensible to other humans)

Ok the point is just to selectively leave hair where you want it and reduce it where it’s contributing to chaos.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:22 PM on March 29, 2021

Ah because you don’t want DIY hair cutting advice, ha. Sorry. Ok my answer to the “stuff” question is, wear a knit beanie until your hair is cut into a shape you like.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:32 PM on March 29, 2021

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