We Asked 50 Women What They Thought Was An Appropriate Professional-Looking Haircut

I’m going to be honest – when I first decided to tackle this topic, I thought it would be pretty straight-forward. I thought all the answers would be about hair length, up vs. down, and the debate between straight and curly. However, even though opinions on these topics were very present in answers, I realized that this simple-looking question about a haircut actually carries a lot of depth to it!

I never knew a topic as simple as hair could create such a platform to talk about the role women play in the workplace!  I could go on, but I think these answers truly speak for themselves. Here are 50 responses to the statement, “What is an appropriate professional-looking haircut?”

1.) “Obviously natural colors. Other than that, it just makes sure you’re nicely groomed. Just make sure your hair is out of your face.

You should be focused on your answers and work rather than your appearance.” (Anonymous)

2.) “I believe a professional looking haircut can truly be any length as long as your hair is brushed well with no flyaways.

I like to straighten my thick hair before a professional interview. (especially during the hot summer)!  Also, you should always make sure that your hair is pulled away from your face, so your face, especially your eyes, will be seen by others which helps you feel more trustworthy and friendly.” (Jenny H.)

3.) “I would say very simple, straight, out of your face.

Something you’re not going to be futzing over.” (Anonymous)

4.) “For myself, I think it consists of hair with even edges that’s properly contained!

The length of the hair doesn’t matter as long as it looks clean and you can tell there was an attempt done to it. I normally straighten my hair, but if it starts to fall in my face, I pull it into a low ponytail.” (Noel M.)

5.) “I feel like any hairstyle that looks like you put an effort in and did something with it in the morning!

Like for me with curly hair, I think I should tame my flyaways, and if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll pull my bangs back.” (Kaylee R.)

6.) “Your hair should be all one color.

It’s fun to experiment in college or something with fun colors but once you start working, a more natural hair color looks more professional.” (Anonymous)

7.) “For centuries, including 2018, straight hair is considered to be the sleekest, sexiest and most professional style for the workplace.

However, most black women are not born with naturally straight hair but kinky or curly natural hair. Black women in the workplace have been criticized and even terminated from employment for displaying their natural hair. I believe that whatever makes you feel the most proud and confident of your own body and mind is what is appropriate. Whether that be natural, box braids, Marley twists, dread locks, or straightening. It is your own body and you can present in how you deem responsible.” (Grace Abigail Hunt)

8.) “As a nursing student, I think it’s best to have a balance.

I need mine long enough to keep it up and out of my face for procedures. If I cut it too short, I couldn’t do a pony tail, and it wasn’t a professional look for professors or fellow nurses and doctors I was working under.

Personally, I think a slicked back pony tail is best for my profession. I think more than cut though, being clean and neat is most important. Image does influence first impressions which matter in the medical field so the patients and families trust you. I always make sure my hair is clean, well groomed and in a high ponytail that is slicked back.” (Audrey C.)

9.) “To me, professional looking hair is clean, or dry shampooed, with a healthy cut (no ratty ends).

Professional looking hair is smooth and well-help. To look professional for my job, I either curl my hair with a straightener and then put it half up/half down. I’ll also put it in a pony or top knot with a few curled pieces falling down to frame my face. Anything that says, “I shower and care about my appearance” is professional to me.” (Julia. C)

10.) “A good professional haircut is anything that can be easy to get ready in the morning like a neat ponytail or bun.

Bangs look good too, but they can become a hassle quickly once they grow out a little.” (Anonymous)

11.) “I think a professional haircut can be any number of styles- as long as it makes you feel confident.

Research shows that shorter haircuts like bobs/lobs are most likely to do so. That being said, extreme hair like shaved heads or bright colors often are a distraction, as dumb and misogynistic as that may be.” (Anonymous)

12.) “In my opinion, having a professional-looking hairstyle isn’t about having the “traditional” cut or color, but more about looking like you care about your presentation.

If a person comes into work looking like they haven’t brushed their hair in a week, I’m probably going to think that’s unprofessional. On the other hand, if a person has blue hair, I’m not going to think their style is unprofessional just because it’s not a natural hair color.” (Michaela B.)

13.) “Something nice looking. For me it doesn’t matter if it’s long hair or short hair, as long as it looks well kept up.” (Anonymous)

14.) “Something that frames your face well. You can also try new things that you have never considered before.” (Anonymous)

15.) “For hairstyle, half back or fully back, but haircut doesn’t really matter.” (Anonymous)

16.) “I think “professional haircuts” vary from job to job.

I’ve traveled a lot and have made many friends with varying jobs. I have two friends that manage a huge fashion company and their company encourages them to do anything with their hair. Sometimes it’s blue, purple or green. Some of my friends who have founded and manage their own lifestyle brands even shave their heads. While on the other hand, many women are encouraged to have a natural hair colour.

I think in today’s day and age our generation is often encouraged to express ourselves. In terms of a “professional haircut,” it really depends on what your profession is. I have a friend who works in Silicon Valley creating quantum computers and he has dreadlocks down to his butt. So, it really is dependent on your profession” (Kallie K.)

17.) “It’s whatever makes you feel confident and you should be able to express that, whatever that may be, in the workplace.” (Anonymous)

18.) “Well, I think that any kind of hairstyle can be suitable for any professional setting.

As long as it is neatly groomed and cleaned. In my microeconomics class\, we discussed how women are most likely to get a job if their hair is short, but not too short, and I think that that whole notion is ridiculous. People subconsciously think that long hair means immature and that very short hair means old/outdated and I think it’s ridiculous.

As far as I’m concerned, if I were in the position of hiring someone, they could have a half-shaved hair style and I wouldn’t care. As long as they groomed it neatly and conducted themselves in a professional manner. This is not to say that companies shouldn’t be able to deny someone a job if they feel their hair is inappropriate for the position or will affect their ability to work efficiently. I do think that we should start to consider more unique hairstyles as appropriate and be more concerned about how professional candidates act than how “professional” their hair looks.” (Allie M.)

19.) “I would say that a professional hairstyle could be anything, as long as it’s well kept and out of the face.

For guys, probably more of a clean cut than longer hair.” (Alex B.)

20.) “I would say as long as you’re able to maintain the hygiene of your hair, cut or style shouldn’t matter.

That said, I would understand it not being considered professional in certain settings to have hair that’s dyed unnatural and maybe distracting colors.” (Abby S.)

21.) “I think it depends on your profession. For instance, in a business setting, hair tied back in a low ponytail, a low bun, a short bob, or straightened hair may be a good way to go.

Business has often favored shorter hair. In a profession involving more physical labor, however, such as construction or wildlife management, a professional looking hairstyle is one based on practicality. This can look like tying hair back in a ponytail or high bun just to get it out of one’s face.

Fortunately, most professions have become more accepting of different hair styles and types, such natural hair and longer hair. (For me, I work both in theatre and environmental policy; for policy, my hair has to be controlled and ordered (unless I’m doing research, in which case no one really cares, just get the hair away from your face). In theatre, I have to look presentable, but the standards are much more relaxed than in a business, political, educational, or fashion industry.)” (Leah K.)

22.) “To would say really any length is acceptable as long as it’s healthy and you style it.” (Anonymous)

23.) “As someone with curly hair, I would have to say that I don’t believe there is one particular hairstyle or haircut that is right for every professional women.

I feel like many times girls are told that the “blonde straight bob” is how professional women wear their hair. However, I think as long as the hairstyle is well kept and the wearer feels confident in it, then it will come across as professional.” (Zoe S.)

24.) “I think anything that seems “put together” would be considered professional.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s dyed an unnatural color, cut short, or left long. If it seems like there was effort put into it to make it look nice then it could be considered professional.  Of course, some professions work better with different hair style, like people in food service need to wear their hair up, but that doesn’t discredit wearing hair down to be unprofessional.” (Nicole P.)

25.) “I think any hairstyle that is befitting of one’s occupation should be considered professional.

I have curly hair, and some days it’s impossible for it to look anyway other than a mess, but I can still do my work. As long as your hair doesn’t look like bed-head then you should be in the clear!” (Kelsey F.)

26.) “One think that I think it’s important to note is that for black women, it’s sort of an unspoken expectation that we straighten our hair to look more professional.

It’s just something that is ingrained in us from a very young age. It’s not something that we are told by other black people, it’s something that is suggested by other cultures.

We are made to believe that our curly natural hair is messy, and so we often straighten it to appease those we are interviewing/auditioning/performing for.  I think that as long as your hair is clean, well styled, and out of your face and eyes, you’ve got a professional looking hairstyle, regardless of what hair” (Jasmine. S.)

27.) “I like mine short and out of my face so I’m not tempted to play with it.

I can wear it both curly and straight, but as long as I keep it out of my face that works for me. When my hair was longer it was more difficult because I didn’t feel like I could ever wear it down. I really like an up-do for a professional look but not too high or extravagant because then that can get childish.” (Morgan R.)

28.) “I wouldn’t consider any hairstyle “professional” or “unprofessional.”

However, I would say that it has to be clean and put together. For me, that means I need to style my hair using heat. However, for some girls, it may just mean putting hair gel in your hair.” (Emily T.)

29.) “Short haircut or tied hair seem to be more appropriate & remind us all (psychologically I guess) of professionalism.

I wish there was a study conducted on it actually, or an experiment, but for now I’ve been conducting it myself at my work place. I’ve noticed myself that people stick to asking supervisor or a manager with short hair about more professional things and find them to be more strict and take them seriously; other supervisors (with an equal power) seem to be taken less seriously. Haircut tells us more about a person; if someone puts an effort to make an impression, we may notice they’ve got their lives “together”.  In my opinion hair up/ shorter haircuts is the way to go in a workplace!” (Mia S.)

30.) “Whether you’re an artist or a business owner, an expectation exists of how you should look.

While clothes can be changed in minutes, our hair cut is always ‘on.’ For me, the most important things I consider are- is it clean? Is it taken care of? Is your hair important to you?

I don’t think any woman should alter the length or style of her hair simply to appear more of anything, but instead should embrace herself. You should feel comfortable with your hair. First and foremost, your hair is to please YOU. If you love your hair and it feels right, any hairstyle is professional. Take care of your hair, show that it matters to you, and you’ll shine with confidence and a professional air.” (Claire S.)

31.) “I think what’s most important to look professional is that the hair looks clean and well kept.

I think almost any hair style looks professional if it is done well.” (Jenna H.)

32.) “Not really a professional hair do, but I have the nape of my neck shaved and it’s hidden when my hair is down in a professional environment!

I used to love dying my hair wild colors, but I can’t do that as a teacher. So I shaved my head as my little secret fun hair thing! I found it’s a really nice balance for me and helps me express myself while staying professional.” (Isabella B.)

33.) “For girls I think a professional hairstyle should be not over shoulder if you let it down.

For long hair it should be in a pony tail or a topknot.” (Anonymous)

34.) “I think the hairstyle depends on the department you’re working in.

I would say straight hair that’s not in your face or hair pulled up into a bun would be a good professional hairstyle.” (Anonymous)

35.) “So I don’t really consider a specific hairstyle/haircut professional or not.

I think it depends on the work that they are doing.  If they are doing a morhairce active job where their hair might get in their face, then it should be pinned out of the face. I think that some people get distracted by how someone looks instead of whether they can get the job done.” (Becky S.)

36.) “I would consider a professional haircut/hairstyle is one that you feel most confident in.

Professionalism is a relative term across industries. I work in the music industry, so we have some staff members who have clean cut, flat ironed, shoulder length hair. And it looks great. We also have staff members with dyed bright red hair with intricate braids. Finding a fine balance of the office environment and what makes you feel most confident in doing your job well will ultimately create a great professional haircut/hairstyle.” (Emma L.)

See Also

37.) “I would say that a professional hairstyle is really anything that makes you feel confident and powerful.

If you’re unsure about that, going with simple and sleek (either pulled back in a bun or worn down) is always professional!” (Chelsea M.)

38.) “A lob!!” (Anisha B.)

39.) “In the music industry, there isn’t a professional haircut.

Everything is so laid back that heads of music labels have blue hair and half of their head shaved off.

So, a professional haircut really relies on what you’re going into. Those majoring in business management or finance keep their hair cut either shoulder length. Everyone always say they’re getting their “adult haircut” which means chopping off a bunch of hair. Hair is interesting because it’s something that people either pay a lot of attention to or don’t notice at all” (Emily R.)

40.) “For me personally, anything can be considered a professional haircut/hairstyle.

It just depends on your profession. Even then, I don’t think that you should be deemed “unprofessional” because of a haircut. It should depend on your work ethic and what you contribute to your workplace.” (Cindy T.)

41.) To me, a “professional” hairstyle has everything to do with your working environment.

For example, an appropriate hairstyle for a full time artist could differ vastly from someone working in a corporate office. Overall, in order for a hairstyle to be professional its functionality needs to be taken into account regarding the work environment.

If you work outdoors, you should easily be able to pull it back. If you work in a retail or public service position, you most likely would need to keep it out of your face and one that will be accepted by your particular client base.

In general, when I think of a professional hairstyle, neutral colors come to mind. It can be harder to incorporate bright hair into the workplace, because those are typically the components some people would take issue with. Additionally, I think of a “practical length”. To me, this just means keeping the hair neat and trimmed so that it’s not hindering you in any way.

If you choose to have bangs, I would say to keep them above eye-level and neatly styled.  Personally, I’m extremely open to creative hairstyles. However, in my own job setting, I know my coworkers’ opinions vary drastically. Therefore, I have found it easiest to just choose a hairstyle that will be generally accepted as professional, (black color, shoulder length, middle part).” (Molly F.)

42.) “I think a professional-looking haircut/hairstyle is something that looks clean and well-kept!

Something that’s messy, greasy, or tangled would be considered unprofessional to me.” (Katie D.)

43.) “I would say my gut instinct is any type of haircut or style can be a professional one!

But if I’m going to get specific, I’d say as long as others can see your eyes, then it’s good to go. Whether it’s pulled back in a pony or you’re rocking the shaved head (my favorite), as long as others can see your face, then you’re rocking whatever style you’ve got going on!” (Kelsie A.)

44.) “Something about the word “professional” instantly inspires the image of a woman in a nice dress or tasteful blazer.

Sensible but fashionable heels and, for inexplicable reasons, a neat hairstyle–usually straight. A hairstyle that says “I can control my hair and a room of staff.” My hair is anything but neat. I once wore it in two thick braids and someone said, “This is the most contained I’ve ever seen your hair.

Whenever I’m dressing up for an academic dinner or an interview, I find myself pulling it into a bun or clipping it back. In an effort to look more professional, I tie it down. For so long, our society has looked down on natural hair, promoting the image of straight, smooth and silky. The image of a woman in the workplace, a professional, has fit to those standards.

My current internship is quite casual, so I don’t worry about how I look. But in the future, I see myself purchasing a nice blazer and going out for interviews and… Controlling my hair? Would all hell break loose if I let my hair loose?” (Chrissy H.)

45.) “I think a professional look could vary depending on what field you are in.

However for me, the professional hair could be something that everyone is comfortable with. Some might say that hair could be something that you could express yourself, and I do agree, but I don’t think the society is ready for that yet.” (Jinnie L.)

46.) “ Well I’d say it’d have to depend on your profession.

For office/business casual look, I wouldn’t do anything like bold colors or cuts. If your field is more open to those then have at it! In our generation, it really depends who you work for. However, to impress older higher ups that are traditional I’d stick to no wild colors or cuts!” (Kara K.)

47.) “There’s no such thing as ‘professional.’” (Anonymous)

48.) “I think professional haircut is one that usually doesn’t go too far past the collarbone.

For me, the longer the hair the less mature and professional the haircut in my opinion. There are a wide range of professional styles, but importantly, your hair should be swept off of your face and dry!” (Madelyn C.)

49.) “I think a professional haircut / style depends on the type of profession is working in.

With that, I think a style would be up or tied. Even held back would be appropriate to be more productive and not having to worry about maintaining it. Shorter haircuts may be easier for this. Again, it depends on the job and how much an employee is allowed to express themselves!” (Gina S.)

50.) “A professional-looking haircut/hairstyle depends on the eye of the beholder.

Though many would expect natural colors, some jobs are looking to cultivate more creativity and encourage individuality. Colors of the rainbow and different hairstyles can be professional in the right setting. Hopefully, it will become part of the norm along with what’s seen as more natural!” (Abigail J)

Now that you’ve heard from these ladies, what’s your go-to professional do?? What would you say is a professional haircut or style? Comment below!
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