10 Common Hair Styles That Look Professional And 10 That Look Like A Mess

When you're running late, it's really tempting to throw your hair up in a messy bun or simple ponytail. While your work colleagues or classroom peers might not say anything about your look, they're all thinking about it. Some hairstyles are known for looking professional and others are not. When you're prepared to deliver a speech in class or if you're on your way to work, you need to dress for the part. Your teacher or your boss is expecting you to look professional, so you can't just throw your hair up without considering whether it's appropriate for the environment you're about to enter.

It may sound like a hassle, but that's because for most women it really is. No one wants to spend hours on their hair only to wash it and have to spend hours again the next day. The good news is even if you're in a rush, there are still plenty of hairstyles that are quick and simple that can make you look professional. The trick is knowing exactly what to do and what not to do. If your teacher, boss, or even a friend or family member have approached you about cleaning up your look, please consider these ten common hairstyles that make you professional and ten that make you look like a mess:

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20 For Long Wavy Hair, Add Mousse To Control Frizz


Midge Wilson, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and women's and gender studies at DePaul University, told Cosmopolitan that many companies view curly locks as unprofessional. Unruly curls are often seen as an indication that a prospective or current employee is high maintenance or may seem "free-spirited, even wild."

She adds, "In pop culture, deranged women often have big, uncombed curls. Well-groomed hair is seen as no-nonsense and serious."

This stigma makes curly or wavy hair difficult to pull off in the workplace, but it doesn't mean you can't!

Just throw a little mousse in those curls to handle the frizz and you'll look like you just stepped out of the hair salon.

19 The Name "Messy Bun" Says It All: Don't Wear This In A Professional Setting


There are mixed reviews for whether a messy bun is appropriate for a professional environment. Some claim it can be, provided the rest of your ensemble is professional, but others believe it makes you look too low-maintenance, and if you aren't willing to put in the effort for your hair, you are not likely to be taken as a serious employee.

While one's hair shouldn't be a measuring tool for one's work ethic, the bottom line is that looks matter in specific environments. Perhaps the fact that there is so much debate is enough to show it isn't worth the risk. If you're going to a new job or interview, try a nicer style first and test the waters before attempting to pull off a messy bun.

18 If You Love Straight Hair, Consider A Straight Perm To Save Time


According to Stylish Walks, there are several pros and cons for getting your hair straightened, but if you're always straightening it anyway, a permanent might be the best bet for you.

Straightening your hair is always a sleek look, so why not make things easier on yourself by treating it?

It may be expensive, but certain treatments, such as keratin hair straightening, has no known side effects, there are no chemical hair products and it offers extra protection from the sun. It adds shine to your hair and makes it more manageable as well — go for the perm and live without your straightener for a while.

17 The Average Ponytail Isn't Going To Cut It In A Professional Environment


Ponytails are tricky hairstyles for a few reasons — if they aren't high or low enough, they can't be considered "professional," so what's the magic height? Do fly-aways matter? What about curly vs. straight locks?

According to Corporette, ponytails can be worn in the office but they need to be secured. You can't have tons of fly-aways or it looks too messy, so really, if you require a ton of bobby pins and can't get a clean ponytail, then no, it isn't acceptable in the workplace. If you want to wear a ponytail, be sure you aren't frizzy anywhere and it's got some kind of (literal) twist to it to keep from looking too plain Jane.

16 Medium And Long Hair Can Be Parted To One Side And Held Back With A Bobby Pin Or Discreet Barrette


Glamour reports short hair can be styled with as many bobby pins as you'd like. They can be kept out of sight, such as in the image above, or can make bold statements when used in unstructured placements.

The online magazine compares the look to Kristin Stewart's bob shortly after her Twilight days and reminds readers to keep the "face-framing pieces of hair on the opposite side of your face loose in order to keep the style from appearing too harsh."

If you wanted a professional look but have super short hair, Glamour encourages the use of barrettes and bobby pins alike!

Enjoy this style and play with it often to find your favorite look.

15 Frizz Always Makes You Look Like A Mess


The New York Times reported women with curly and frizzy hair shouldn't feel out of place in a professional environment, but eliminating frizz does help make you go from a messy look to a more professional one. There are several frizz-controlling products and it's important to note that curls and frizz are not the same things.

Curls are just that — strands of hair that come together in curls, while frizz is the hair that refuses to stay in place or join the ranks of the other strands, resulting in flyaways and oftentimes messy appearance. Taming your hair isn't the same as being ashamed of your natural look, it's just a matter of keeping it from becoming a distraction to yourself (when it flies in your face) and to others.

14 A Bun Looks Professional, If You Control Frizz And Fly-Aways

According to Corporette, an inverted chestnut bun, Gibson tuck or chignon variations can be professional hairstyles for any workplace — provided there aren't baby hairs flying all over the place. If you don't want to do a simple bun, try a "voluminous puffy bun" or other comfortable and sleek-looking styles.

Even if you have curly hair, buns aren't outside your grasp!

Just make sure to dampen your hair beforehand and add a little frizz-controlling product before forming your bun and you should look just fine. You can even embellish the look with a few chic barrettes or visible bobby pins as well.

13 It's Time To Let Go Of The Middle Part


Elle describes a middle part as "distracting," though it also serves as "a strong look." The impact of a side part is "less distracting and frames your face in a softer way, so it puts more emphasis on the total image you are presenting," therefore test the waters by showing up to a job interview with a side part or no part at all.

Once you get a feel for the environment, then you can branch out a bit and use a middle part whenever you feel like it. If no one else in the office has a middle part and your supervisor seems to care a great deal about meeting the dress code, stay away from the middle part.

12 For Shorter Hair, Use Barrettes


According to Total Beauty, hair accessories don't need to stop after high school. You can keep great statement-piece barrettes to "look chick and put-together" even after age thirty.

If you have short locks, try adding texture to your hair by using scarves, bows, or even ribbons.

A simple headband can elevate an updo and a bun cuff can make all the difference to your look. A sleek hair brooch is also an accessible and timeless piece to add to any wardrobe, as are ponytail wraps. When it comes to short hair, stick to statement barrettes, charms and fashionable hairpins.

11 Blunt Bangs With Curly Hair Usually Doesn't Look As Put-Together


Tyra Banks may have pulled off this look with her wavy locks and blunt bangs back in the day, but guaranteed she wouldn't try that look now. According to Women's Hair Styles, long curly locks and blunt bangs equals a lot of maintenance. They suggest a long side-sweep bang to the blunt look to help look sleek and keep your hair as low-maintenance as possible, particularly if your curls tend to be a bit unruly.

Once again, professional companies have strict dress codes to help make the workplace as efficient as possible and if you're constantly sweeping hair from your face, your look is probably out of code.

10 A Twisted Braid Can Look Elegant And Professional


According to Glaminati, there are several twisted side braid styles that can make a woman's hair go from just okay to freaking amazing!

Not only does the site explain how to braid your hair, but it goes into detail on what products to purchase to make it look sleek while also delivering on volume.

You can get a "romantic effect" or can pull a few strands to make it appear effortless, regardless of which particular style you're going for, you can play with your twisted side braids all you like and most will be professional enough for your work environment.

9 Long, Unruly Hair Can Make You Look Unpolished


Allure promises you don't need to spend your life with long, unruly hair that just refuses to give in to your attempts at taming it. There are several products you can use to help detangle and smooth your hair down or opt for a simple topknot to keep your crazy hair from going wild. The whole point of taming your hair, of course, is to provide a more professional look.

As controversial as it may sound, countless studies have found that women are more objectified in society than men and that is particularly true when it comes to hair length. Long hair is preferred, as it appears more traditionally feminine, but if a woman can't control her hair she is considered unprofessional. As messed up as it sounds, if you're going to keep your hair long, you need to keep it under control in a professional environment, as professed by Elle.

8 In A Rush? Throw Your Hair Up In A French Roll To Look Amazing!


Also known as a French Twist, Corporette says it can be a classic way to look "pulled together."

Yes, this look will require a few bobby pins and tons of hairspray to keep the shape... but it looks so good!

A sideways French Roll is also appropriate for a business setting or other professional environment and it can be as high up or as down low as you'd like. Knotting your hair into a twist is yet another way to make short- to medium-length hair stand out without being too flashy or over the top. The next time you're on the hunt for an updo, give the French Twist a try.

7 Unnatural Colors Are (Unfortunately) Still Considered Unprofessional


According to Women's Weekly, there are plenty of office-appropriate hair colors you can play with before HR comes at you like a bull in a china shop. While these colors are fun and flashy, none boast the trendy unicorn look of rainbow colors of all shades. This carefree, whimsical look is often mistaken for the hairstyle of a high-maintenance woman with little to no work ethics.

It's wrong to make these assumptions, but they remain firmly in place at higher end companies and even some of the more basic fast food restaurants. If you want to look professional, save the color for your next job or try a temporary dye for your next vacation or long weekend.

6 If You Have Natural Curls, Try A Faux Pixie Cut With Help From Some Bobby Pins

Pretty Designs

Brit+Co explains how to make different faux hairstyles for women with longer or even shorter mid-length hair.

One of the best looks is the Asymmetrical Pixie, which is an "uber chic cut" and requires very little work to achieve.

In fact, ex-hairstylist and current fashionista blogger Sarah Angius shared a YouTube video showing how to create a fast and easy faux pixie haircut. The video is a mere fifty seconds long but has been viewed over 72,000 times. This cute look doesn't have to be permanent to be cute — just give it a try and see how you like it on hot summer days around the office.

5 Over-Sized Bangs Tend To Look Messy


Any hairstyle that looks like it might be too much maintenance is considered unprofessional. Shaggy, over-sized bangs can get in your way and if you're constantly trying to push them aside, guaranteed your boss is noticing. A professional environment is one in which there are limited interruptions and distractions.

If your hair is a distraction to yourself or anyone else, it's not considered professional. According to Elle, bangs can be fashionable and fun, but they mention blunt bangs and a side-swept fringe, not over-sized bangs that get in the way of your vision and come between you and your concentration.

4 Ready For Something New? Try The Inside-Out Ponytail


The inside-out ponytail is a refreshing take on the casual ponytail. According to PopSugar, this style takes "your ponytail up a few notches" and "provides an unexpected twist to your style."

All you have to do is blow-dry your hair (if it's naturally straight or slightly wavy) and create a smooth base by running mousse through damp strands.

Add some volumizer at the roots and part your hair. Add a little bit of wax to tame frizz and create enough grip to allow you to pull your hair back into a low ponytail. Use your fingers to create a "hole" at the base of the ponytail, just above the rubber band, then twist and tuck. Grab the twisted ponytail and stuff it into the opening, then pull it taut and you're done!

3 Braids Can Be Fun, But Are Rarely Professional


Much like its lazy cousin, the ponytail, braids are fast and casual styles for your hair. There are several intricate braid styles and designs you can use to make yourself workplace appropriate, but if you stick with the basic braid, you aren't going to look sleek or stylish.

According to Corporette, the "milkmaid" braids or the "braided-halo look" can emphasize you're young enough to pull it off (aka inexperienced) or you're too old to pull it off, meaning you shouldn't braid your hair in the workplace at all unless you've got a good take on it, such as a ponytail wrapped in a braid instead of a simple wrap, or some other stylish variation to the age-old simple braid.

2 Love Your Natural Hair? Show It Off With A Wrapped Ponytail!


According to StyleCraze, a high ponytail wrapped with hair is considered "one of the easiest professional long hairstyles to try out." The site further explains you need to "keep the hair absolutely straight in order to maintain a neat and stylish flair and wrap the base of the pony with a thin section of hair."

Obviously, this is a sleek look for anyone with longer locks who want a simple but trendy style.

The look is more than just fast and easy to put up, it also works in both a professional and casual environment, making it the perfect hairstyle for any occasion.

1 Dreadlocks Are Still Considered Unprofessional


Some companies consider dreadlocks to be unprofessional and there are several examples of people not getting the job they were originally offered or even getting written up for their hairstyles. It isn't just a race thing, as both black and white people with dreads are targeted, but part of the stigma are those who don't take care of their hair.

Some people, like those on Dreadlocks.com, believe dreadlocks are formed when you refrain from ever washing your hair, which results in crusty, smelly, disgusting, and ultimately gross hair. These are the dreads most companies want to shy away from, though there are others that refuse any kind of dreadlock, even if the hair is obviously clean and well-cared for. It is one of many controversial moves but for now, to put it simply, most companies do not consider dreads appropriate styles for a professional workplace.

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