Long hair, don’t care! Long hair devotees such as myself are often so attached to our locks that we will endure lots of daily annoyances and hassles because they simply go with the tress territory. If you have long hair that falls past your shoulders, chances are, you deal with your strands getting in the way of your normal activities, from eating to applying makeup, multiple times throughout the course of a single day. Regardless, it doesn’t matter how tedious or troublesome the foibles of having long follicles are. You can’t and won’t part with it or hack it all off. And that’s totally okay.
These are the legit struggles of having long hair — texture and style don’t matter, only length. Everyday women truly relate to these issues, as I polled a variety of sources — friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Even a male friend weighed in, since dudes have long hair, too! The one conclusion? The struggles of long hair are real but they are not insurmountable.
There are days when we long-haired girls who wash, brush, blow dry, and style our hair end up with enough strands on the bathroom floor that we could make a wig out of them. Yes, I add a few minutes to my morning routine by sweeping up all those strands I have shed with a Swiffer or a piece of toilet paper. But no matter how thorough I think the cleanup job is, there will always, always be a few strands I didn’t catch. Where do these hairs hide when I am sweeping up their friends? Where?!
My colleague Jem Aswad stated that his teenager daughter is always flustered to find hair “absolutely everywhere” — the bathroom floor, in little hairballs on the carpet that look like cockroaches, and on sheets. My friend Gabriella Meghan groused, “I probably have to clean more that somebody with short hair.” #Truth.
Washing and conditioning is never just washing and conditioning. Over time, long hairs clog drains in the shower or the sink. It’s not only gross to yank a clump of matted, soggy hair from the drain cover — I often wretch and get dry heaves when I have to do this cleaning ritual — but it will also cause the drain to back up, since the tangles of hair create blockage and don’t allow water to drain completely.
Next thing you know, you are standing in an inch or two of dirty water when showering. Yuck. It gets so bad that Liquid Plumr doesn’t do the trick. You have to call an actual plumber to snake the tub and pull out the thick, disgusting clog. I have dealt with this several times at my condo over the years.
Being forced to wear it up on hot days
Personally, my hair is my protective curtain and my shield. I prefer to wear it down and framing my face, since that’s what my long, Jennifer Aniston-inspired, angled layers are there for. I don’t mind the additional time and energy it takes to style it before heading out. However, on super hot and humid summer days, I hate being forced to pull my hair back into a ponytail, due to a sweaty neck.
Stringy, sweat-soaked hair never looks good and thus I have no choice but to throw it in a messy pony. It’s the lesser of two evils. My friend Seneid Kennedy concurred, grumbling about her struggle to “resist the urge to always put it up in a ponytail or a bun even after you spent forever styling it.“
You never can really just wash and go
Having long hair isn’t exactly a wash ‘n’ go lifestyle. It’s always a process and can take an eternity to style. Even on days when you skip a wash, you have to brush out the tangles and use dry shampoo to freshen up or risk looking a bit too bedhead-y.
If you are like me and wash your strands daily, or even every other day, it can take a good half-hour or longer to condition, style, and blow dry. Let’s not even talk about using heat styling tools on a hot day, because that adds to the aforementioned sweaty neck.
My pals Jill Perrin and Cassie Whitt both complained about how having long hair makes you feel hot all of the time. Jill stated that “blowdrying in summer makes you feel like you need another shower immediately after,” while Cassie pointed out that “my hair is pretty straight and low-maintenance, but my head is SO HOT ALL THE TIME! It gets very sweaty.“
Beware of ice cream (and food in general, actually)
If you happen to be eating a sticky food, like ice cream, and your hair somehow lands in your cookies ‘n’ cream, due to a gust of wind or a quick turn of your head, you are screwed. You can grab a napkin and dab at the melty, sugary mess, but it almost always dries hard and crunchy and your ‘do is pretty much done for the day. It looks bunk and gross and I can never successfully brush out the sticky knot, either. The only fix is a fresh wash.
As my associate Debbie Sellnow noted, “I’m like a little kid getting my hair in my food.” There is no shame here; all long-haired girls have been there, done that, and will do it again.
You have to be extra cautious around candles
You have to be really careful around candles because burning hair doesn’t smell good and is generally incredibly dangerous. As my friend Ginger Ella mused, “It’s a fire hazard!”
If you want to blow out a candle, you can’t just bend over, exhale, and be done with it. Oh no — not even close. You have to use your hand as a makeshift ponytail holder and hold your hair back at the nape of your neck or else you risk your pretty strands going up in flames. My long hair has trained me to do this whenever I light candles, because once, when I didn’t, I ended up with slightly singed strands. I never, ever want to feel or smell that again.
Hair ties are always breaking and/or getting lost
There must be some black hole where hair ties go to die. Personally, I buy at least five packs of ten black hair ties a year and they all inevitably go missing. I never get more than five wears out of a single tie, either. I try and keep them on my key ring or in my bathroom around my face wash pump, since I need to pull my hair off my face to wash it. But somehow, some way, they always end up gone, baby gone.
The ones that don’t vanish often stretch out and become threadbare, eventually snapping. Besides the hair ties that go M.I.A., my friend Randi Newport said, “My hair tie is always breaking. Or they magically disappear thanks to my cat.”
Hair ties also can’t handle the load of hair that is either too long or too thick and therefore snap, which is why my colleague Ana Santos grumbles that it’s “too much effort to manage daily, broken hair ties.” The aforementioned Cassie has had to resort to another method, saying, “I have to use scrunchies instead lately.”
Hair ties don’t quite fit right
This struggle actually came from a male friend. Hair ties are not an exact science and there is no formula to purchasing the right ones. “If you tie it two times around, it’s too loose. If you tie them three times around, it’s too tight,” said Alexander Stafford.
I can relate, and when you unloop them, hair gets ripped out and wrapped around the tie. I am constantly removing loose hairs knotted around my not-missing hair ties. It’s always something.
Windy days are not your friend
Windy days almost always result in tangles and knots that you have to either brush out with a tool or your fingers. That, too, can hurt. Or it can leave you with a big rat’s nest-looking mess. What if you have a date or an important work meeting? As my colleagues Gail Worley said, “Dealing with a windy situation” is problematic. In my experience, it’s not always an inconvenience that is best solved with a hat, either
Arm fatigue from doing braids
One of the biggest perks of having long, luxurious hair is infinite styling options. You can do buns, boxer braids, pigtails, bows like Lady Gaga, whatever! That versatility is terrific. However, you can suffer from serious soreness when trying to fasten your hair in French or fishtail braids, as my colleague Laura Peterson stated.
She labeled “getting arm fatigue from doing my own hair” as a big issue. Anyone who has ever held their hands over their head while styling strands knows how heavy and sore they can get from these positions. The end result can be sloppy, meaning you have to start over. We have all wasted plenty of time re-doing hair over arm fatigue.
Thick and heavy hair can be difficult
Thick hair may be gorgeous and an enviable quality, but it has its pitfalls too. It can cause pain and become really high maintenance. As my friend Jaime Schultz explained, “My biggest struggle is that I have thick hair and it’s insanely heavy. I get headaches if my hair is pulled up for too long, but I also constantly need to get my hair thinned out because it becomes unmanageable the longer and thicker it gets.”
Certainly, a too tight updo can pull on your scalp and hurt like hell. My colleague Samantha Knight echoed that sentiment, citing “ponytail headaches” as her biggest long hair challenge, while Elise Hines stated that her thick hair can be difficult for a hairdresser to properly style.
She relayed, “As a person with long, curly, mixed texture, ethnic hair, my biggest struggle is finding hair dressers who are capable of cutting it evenly — even when it’s blown out. One chunk of my hair was nearly two inches shorter than the rest as of my last trim because the previous hairdresser got scissor happy and covered up her misstep by flat ironing my hair into complete submission.“
It can go limp if it’s too long
If your hair is on the thinner side, “it gets limp if it’s too long,” says my friend and colleague Juliet Huddy. She also pointed out that a flat ‘do “can age you,” since a full, lush, and thick mane certainly conveys youth. If you are trying to retain youth by having long hair that’s just too limp, it can appear as though you are trying a little too hard. The end result is an unflattering coif.
Lip gloss is a challenge
Wearing lip gloss and even lipstick is a challenge, since a stray or random hair can get stuck to your lips. It’s not a cute look and the product can make a mess of your ends. My friend Jill Augusto grumbled, “I can never wear a sticky lip gloss. God forbid a breeze comes along!” On a breezy day, your hair will remain attached your lips and lip gloss until you physically do the work to remove it.
Sharing a bed can be difficult
Sleeping with long hair can become quite the task. Not only do you toss, turn, and end up with a tangles, but if you are sharing a bed with someone, you can become immobilized.
My aforementioned friend Seneid Kennedy reminded me of the dilemma of “when your partner falls asleep on your hair and you go to turn over,” which my co-worker Kristin Torres echoed as one of “the worst” struggles of being long-locked. It’s painful and makes nighttime anything but restful.
It gets stuck in weird places
My friends Kelsey Zimmerman and Alleen Hughes were frustrated over the fact that hair can get stuck in unusual places. Kelsey complained that “it sometimes gets stuck on my purse,” while Alleen straight up hates it “when my hair gets stuck in my armpits.”
That makes total sense, since hair hangs in the same general vicinity of purses ‘n’ pits. You have to pull it out gingerly so as not to rip out any strands and perhaps run your fingers through hair to re-style it. When hair is caught in your armpits, your ends might wind up smelling like your deodorant or be left with a white residue. I’ve been a victim of such many times.
You can end up styling it 50 times a day
Sometimes, long hair getting in the way becomes so irritating that you have to put it up for a few since you are chasing your kids around or leaning over your desk. You eventually allow it to flow free again, only to throw it back in a messy bun while doing errands or chores. This can become a routine where you are “putting it up and down like 50 times a day,” like my friend Bridjet Jacqueline. Based on your activities, you might waste all this extra time addressing your hair in certain situations.
It gets in your butt crack
Several of my friends expressed uncertainty at how that lone strand of hair travels down from their scalps into their underwear and ultimately lodges itself in their butt cracks. You have to be subtle when pulling it out or you will be subjected to stares or raised eyebrows; I was once mortified after I pulled out a “butt hair” at the mall and noticed teenagers having a laugh at me. But it’s like unintentional flossing and super uncomfortable to have that tiny strand of hair down there, since you can always feel it. It will irritate you until it is removed. As Debbie Sellnow proclaimed, “Hair stuck in the butt — I wish this was something I’d never heard of but it is all too common.”
Finding the right products
Elise Hines also called attention to an important issue and challenge that befalls her and countless other gorgeous-locked women. She has experienced difficulty “finding hair products for mixed race people.” Beauty companies need to be even more inclusive and consider all different types of hair and backgrounds when it comes to creating products lines and tools.
The struggle is real but worth it
There are other long-haired struggles, from doing extra work to keep it healthy and paying lots of money for products to actually finding the best shampoo, conditioner, and styling agents. But long hair is worth all the hassle if you love how it looks or frames your face. Sure, there is something exciting and freeing about hacking it all off and rocking a short ‘do, which shows off your features, is quick and easy to style, and can be versatile depending on how you play with it. But to truly overcome these “long hair struggles,” you need to adopt a “long hair, don’t care” attitude.