In a lifetime, on average, a woman will spend $55,000 on her hair, and 11 hours a month washing their hair. And while we are guilty of being a huge percentage of this statistic, we can’t help but wonder: why? Why is the power of a good hair day—or even a bad hair day—so mood-altering? What is it about our hair, whether short or long or dyed or natural, that has us investing so much time and effort into our locks?
It’s not just because we care about how we appear—whether you’re rocking long waves or a short pixie cut—but also because our hair represents our personality, thoughts and beliefs. For some, the rainbow colours, layers, or even bangs, have become a part of their branding. For others, their hair is a reflection of their identity, or a symbol of femininity, of sexuality, or even vitality. And for some, it’s a relationship so deeply entrenched in one’s histories, religions, cultures, and even philosophies.
It was once famously said in Mean Girls, “Her hair holds all her secrets.”
And, maybe, our hair truly does.
Because long hair equals wealth (and more)
It’s not just in fairy tales like Rapunzel that we see the significance of long hair: for centuries, long hair has been a signifier of wealth and status. Although most marketing targets women these days, believe it or not, history shows that men were actually the ones focused on hair health.
- Christian priests and Buddhist monks would shave their heads and beards to represent their detachment from the material world, while also symbolizing a lack of vanity and their vow of chastity
- On the flip side, in some cases, hair is viewed as a symbol of strength and holiness, with uncut hair equating to the denial of vanity and embracing a simple life.
- In Ancient Egypt, status was represented in the Pharaoh’s wig which he always wore, whilst his sons wore their hair in buns which were always on the right side of their heads
Because hair equals our power
No, really, it does.
While hair trends come and go—thin highlights, the Rihanna bob circa 2008, and did we forget the racoon-esque hair of the scene kid era?—at the end of the day, hair will make a major statement for many women, in both their health and even spirituality.
- whether it’s seen as an extension of chakra energy
- an identifier of beauty or sexuality
- an embodiment of an engrained tradition to signify familial and cultural roots
And, maybe, in part, that’s why the infamous “break-up” hair is a thing: hair gives us the opportunity to embrace who are, but also the power and control to be who we want.
As one hair stylist in i-D puts it: “Changing one’s hair to mark an important life event is, in part, a signal of how much we look to women’s appearance to determine who they are or what’s going on their lives. Making a radical change to your appearance can be a way of sending the message that you’re also making a radical change to your life—or that you’d like to.”
Because hair also equals health
While we often look to our skin to gauge if our latest junk food binge is the culprit for our latest break out, believe it or not, it may just be more than skin deep. Hair, in actuality, can be one of the most important signs of your overall health. When our bodies produce enough nutrients and vitamins, this is heavily seen in how vibrant and healthy our hair looks.
In fact, constant frizzy, dry, and unhealthy hair may be a sign that we need to change our diet or haircare routines for that optimal glow.
That’s why, regardless of what your hair means to you, it’s important to care for it the best that you can. Style and cut it how you want, nourish it with the right ingredients, and ultimately, let it channel who you are, let it express your story.