In search of bench friendly hair

Mar 31 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

I got a haircut the other day. I'm tying to grow it longer, and it's currently in what cannot be helped...the awkward phase. No matter how you cut it, it's going to look awkward, and probably bad, or at least require far more trouble to make it look good than what I am willing to give it in the morning.

My hairstylist knows this. She knows that I want nothing to do with my hair on most days (sometimes, I admit, I forget to brush it). She also knows that, when I am forced to leave my hair down (which I have to when it's too short to stay UP), I almost uniformly tuck it behind my ears or under a headband or something else so I don't have to think about it.

She's well meaning. She wants my hair to look decent without much effort. She doesn't want me to be a walking advertisement of when a haircut goes bad!

So she gave me little bangs. Attractive little side swept bangs. Bangs that, when they fall into my face, are JUST under my eyes. JUST too short to put behind my ears. And therefore, bangs which constantly fall in my face.

I'm ready to shave my head. Sure, it makes the hair look much less awkward than it might otherwise. I know she's doing her best for me.

...but this hair is NOT BENCH FRIENDLY. Here I am, trying to work under the hood in glove-covered hands which are in turn covered in noxious substances, and my HAIR IS IN MY FACE. It's too short to be held back by headbands, at times I have resorted to paperclips. It being chunky and layered makes it worse, all barrette efforts are in vain.

And I have noticed that much of the hair I have seen recently is not bench friendly. Long side swept side parted hair that, while getting attractively in your face constantly, also makes you look kind of like one of those dogs that can't possibly see through their hair. Lots of hair that is scooped carefully forward, short in the back and longer in the front, so that despite your best efforts it gets in your face. Lots of long little wisps of hair, meant to look ethereal, that do their best ethereal impressions in front of your face. Even the guys aren't unaffected! I see lots of longer guy hair, brushed charmingly over the eyes.

Why do I keep seeing the vast number of hairstyles that are artfully swept over one eye? I guess hair is more important than vision.

Has anyone else had bench unfriendly hair? Advice on how to deal with it? Currently I'm pinning it back all over the place, but the net result is that I often have to walk directly into a meeting with my hair in full on nutty professor. While the Professor Trewlawney look might suit me to some degree, it's not exactly preferable. Anyone?

30 responses so far

  • Daniel says:

    I always used a bandana to keep my hair out of my face (and from falling into reagents) when it wasn't long enough to put in a pony tail.

  • hozishka says:

    I usually use small claw clips - the ones that are like 3/4" long. I have a pile of them in varying colors (including a brown that matches my hair for when I want subtle) and amount of glitter (from "none" to "all of it"). My hair just falls out of barrettes and bobby pins, but the claw clips hold it in much better. Plus the smaller ones are pretty unobtrusive and you can do a decorative line of them to catch all the strays.

    My only caveat is not to squeeze them too hard. I've snapped them in half by mistake, so I keep a big bowl of them around. The Scunci ones are pretty hardy, though.

  • physioprof says:

    Baseball cap or beanie.

    • scicurious says:

      I can safely say that's not going to be well received at my lab. People here are nicely dressed with chunky jewelery and stuff.

  • fizzchick says:

    If you can't do a baseball cap, can you do one of those slouchy crocheted hats? If you get a stretchy one it might stay on better than a bandana.

  • Crystal Voodoo says:

    I second the claw clips though that requires a certain amount of foresight. I've been known to MacGyver chopsticks out of disposable inoculation loops and hair ties out of parafilm. With a little pomade and some practice you can french braid down the sides kind of like a headband to get them out of the way. That's my preferred method if I'm trying to look less like a homeless person.

  • Rejectedbanana says:

    How about the semi-grungy hack I call the wide headband? Just cut the sleeve off an old t-shirt and just wear that as a headband. It's not glamorous, but it works. The width gives more surface area so it stays on pretty well. I wore mine under my lacrosse helmet to keep the hair out of my eyes. Tighter is better, but too tight can give you a headache. Also you can trim the length of the sleeve to a length that doesn't make you look like you just escaped from a hippie camp.

  • KK PhD says:

    Oh man, I was just struggling with this the other day! I have a chin length bob with a side part and it was just NOT working in a hood. I was so annoyed. I used stretchy headband (the kind with rubber treads to hold it in place) and it helped a lot.

  • Ilovepigenetics says:

    Nothing stays in my hair--except yoga headbands. They have grippers on them, which really helps.

    • Wendy says:

      I was just going to suggest these - I went from waist-length hair to a shaved head two years ago and have not been enjoying the in-between lengths. Goody makes some "ouchless" elastic headbands, about 3/4" wide, with little rubber gripping dots on them which help keep them where they belong and help keep your bangs from escaping.

  • My daughter says:

    snap-clips, the ones you push inverted to grip your hair: don't overload the clips, use multiple clips with less hair gripped; they're also decorative

    She also suggested the headbands "with teeth", but says they can be tight and give you a headache, especially if you wear glasses.

    (After cutting her mid-shin-length hair, she's now growing it out, so Xperience.)

  • katie says:

    This is literally my life. Luckily a lot of the work I do is computational! But anyway, I generally find bobby pins and a LOT of hair spray does the trick.

  • Jen says:

    I have heard great things about Bondi bands. I'm going to get one myself today. They are sold at running shoe/yoga stores or you can buy directly here:

  • Food service has an answer for you: the hairnet! They work, although it takes a while to get used to how they feel.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Wtf kind of academic lab had a sartorial set where a baseball cap isn't okay? This is science FFS!

    • scicurious says:

      The kind I'm in! I'm the postdoc who feels slackin' cause I wear jeans to work! All the other ladies wear slacks and nice sweaters and chunky jewelery.

      • DrugMonkey says:

        So naturally the menz wear a jacket (with elbow patches?) and tie?

        • scicurious says:

          LOL.Well, there are SOME postdocs here that actually do, a couple of VERY snappy dressers. But otherwise I've noticed a double standard. When many of us became postdocs, we wanted to be taken seriously. The guys had no fear of being taken seriously regardless of what they were wearing. The girls felt they had to dress more professionally. So around here, dudes wear t shirts and jeans, women wear nice sweaters and blazers and nice pants. I see this a lot at conferences as well.

  • eeke says:

    Hair product. Gel and lots of it. You'd put those nicely dressed ladies to shame.

  • So, once upon a time, early in grad school when I had that kind of hair, the kind that dangled in front of my face no matter what.... I glued a small strand between the slicing chuck and the mouse brain I was prepping for electrophysiology. When I stood up (from bending over the bench), the brain came with me, but the chuck stayed on the bench. I don't remember if I was able to save the brain and do an experiment that day or not. The End.

  • confluence says:

    I often put my hair up by plaiting it and then folding or rolling up the plait and securing it with a single hairstick. I mostly started doing this because I live somewhere that gets really hot in summer, and walking around with my hair loose or even in a ponytail in that kind of weather is extremely unpleasant. It does, as a side effect, make my hair look tidy and keep it out of my eyes.

    Here's a TL;DR description of my exact method -- I'm including it because I have found other instructions for putting hair up completely useless for my hair, and if I hadn't worked this out I would probably still think that it just can't be done.

    I do this when my hair is wet or at least damp; when it is completely dry it is far too slippery and comes loose. The plait is important because it keeps layers or strands of different lengths together pretty well. I insert the hairstick up through the right side of my hair, pivot it to pull that hair up (increasing the tension a lot), push it horizontally through the bun formed by the folded or rolled plait (catching the top of the outermost layer), then pull up the hair on the left side of my head with my fingers (also increasing tension) so that I can push the stick through it and end up with something vaguely symmetrical. The tension on both sides of the bun pulls the stick down and towards my head, keeping the bun in place.

    This hairstyle has served me well through various lengths of hair, from the awkward stage following my second (and last ever!) ill-advised haircut to my current long and layered hair. The only thing that needs to be adjusted is the exact method of arranging the plait into a bun as the hair becomes longer. Depending on how I cut my layers, I sometimes need to pin back short strands from the front, but if the rest of the hair is up I find that this doesn't look weird or require special hairpins. I can also usually catch more of the short strands if I make the plait a little higher on my head.

    Caveats: you may find the tension painful or just annoying. Also, if you have thick hair it may not dry on the inside until you have taken it out of this hairstyle, which may or may not be a problem. It is also going to be wavy when you unplait it, which I consider to be a feature but to some people is apparently a bug. If you're left-handed, it may be helpful to swap left and right in the instructions.

  • bsci says:

    If a cap would do the job, but isn't fancy enough, why not other hats that hold tight around the head, like berets? There's enough variation in hat style that hopefully something can be sufficiently functional and still fit your style.

  • Bashir says:

    This whole long hair struggle is completely foreign to me. I don't know how, or why you guys do it.

  • cheshire says:

    Gel, no I don't mean like the above commenter, but gel in your hair when wet, just enough to stop it falling forward. Takes two minutes in the morning, gel is cheap and I keep a toothpaste tube sized pack of hair gel in my bag so that I can redo it if I get rained on/go swimming

  • Robin says:

    If your bangs look like those pictured. I like it. I find that style of bangs very sexy and playful. You definitely do not look like Cousin It.

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  • Gilly says:

    I have fine chin length hair with eye-level bangs. My workplace solution is the snap clips that were previously suggested. Something like this:

    You can buy them in neutral colors too, so they won't draw too much attention if that is not your goal. They don't work for me if I pull the hair up on top of my head, the trick is to pull your bangs to the side, and clip them to the side, at the temple. Otherwise, if you really want to clip them 'up' on top of your head try a barrette more like this:

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